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Peter Rhodes on a TV star's boozing, giving up the red and the email dangers of being a man called Lol

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

A READER writes: "My name is Laurence but everybody calls me Lol. In this internet age it is extremely difficult for me to send a sympathy card. Sorry to hear about your sad loss. Lol."

Adrian Chiles

I CANNOT compete with Adrian Chiles' prodigious boozing, even if I wanted to. In a recent documentary, Drinkers Like Me (BBC2), the TV presenter admitted to a 100-unit per week habit and said he'd had a drink virtually every day for the past 36 years. I have never boozed on that scale, but I did like my plonk. Almost every day for the past 30 years or so, I waited patiently for 6pm to come round and then poured a large glass - or two - of red to go with our evening meal.

I LOVED the taste of it. I loved the mellow, relaxing effect of a quarter-litre of pure bottled sunshine coursing through the body like the drug it undoubtedly is, and making everything fine. I was a social drinker. I never drank to dangerous levels but Rhodes and Rioja went together remarkably well. And then, quite suddenly, the spell broke and the partnership was over.

IT was Monday, June 18. We'd arrived home from holiday a couple of days before and over the weekend I'd enjoyed the usual glasses of red wine. But on that Monday evening I picked up a bottle of Merlot and simply didn't fancy it. Ten weeks on, I still don't. I have no idea what has changed, what chemical micro-switches have been flicked in my palate or my brain but the wine I once loved now repels me and I'm not mad about beer or cider either. My consumption has dropped from about 15 units per week to one or two.

NOW, at this stage I'm sure the NHS and Alcoholics Anonymous would like me to sing the benefits of abstinence. Truth is, nothing much seems to have changed. I don't feel any cleverer. My blood pressure has not dropped. I haven't lost any weight. And having turned away from alcohol without an ounce of effort, I can't even enjoy the moral superiority of the convert. In fact, the only physical changes I've noticed are that I'm saving money and our glass-recycling box, once heavy with empty bottles, is now unnaturally light.

FOR all I know, my taste for wine may return tomorrow, but I hope not because, even for social drinkers, the problem is not where the booze has taken us so far but where it may go in the future. Giving it up is like losing an old friend, and then discovering you never really liked him anyway.

DID my eyes deceive me during Vanity Fair or was ITV having the old, old problems with subtitles? Someone announced that cowardly Jos (David Fynn ) had fled to Cheltenham. The subtitles said China.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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