It isn’t just Covid-19 that’s catching in lockdown London
BACK WHEN the Coronavirus was just getting warmed up, I woke for a few days in a row with some worrying symptoms.
My throat was tender, my body was hot and sore, and I had a blinding headache.
I started to tell my wife, already imagining being isolated in the top room.
I pictured myself sweating and moaning on the lumpy sofa bed, constant bloody Netflix, meals left outside on trays…
Which was when I remembered the five beers I’d had the night before and realised that I didn’t have Coronavirus: it was just a hangover.
“You’ve got the Beer-o-Virus,” my Better Half declared.
Aside from the symptoms I’ve already described, the main sign that you might have the Beer-o-Virus is a total inability to stop oneself drinking alcohol of an evening.
Like Coronavirus, Beer-o-Virus spreads rapidly when people are in close proximity to one another”
And, like its more publicised cousin, Corona, it spreads rapidly when people are in close proximity to one another.
So, with all four of us in lockdown, my wife and kids soon caught Beer-o-Virus too.
Looking back, I guess the contagion really took hold when my wife and daughter wrote ‘cranberry juice’, ‘grapefruit juice’, and ‘vodka’ on my list of – ahem – essential lockdown shopping.
While they and my son got stuck into a jug of Sea Breezes in the garden that sunny evening, I stuck with beer. But with just three Heinekens in the house, I soon needed reinforcements and so bought eight more.
It was then that our 16-year-old boy switched to beer and – in a flash – all eight of the ’Kens were gone. Make no mistake, I was holding my own, but he must have been inhaling them, they disappeared so fast.
It’s neither legal, nor big, nor clever for a 16-year-old to be hitting the sauce like ours is”
Shocked, I reminded him of the old Dutch proverb: Be a man in the morning as well as the night, meaning: “I hope you can cope with that hangover tomorrow morning.”
He replied that, as school was shut for the foreseeable future, he had absolutely no intention of surfacing before noon. Thanks all the same, Dad…
Of course, it is neither legal, nor big, nor clever for a 16-year-old to be hitting the sauce like ours is.
It’s no excuse that my generation started underage drinking even earlier, and were largely unsupervised in pubs instead of supping ‘safely’ at home with our Dads.
Of course, my dream was that The Lad and I would have a quiet, ritualistic, sort of pint on his 18th birthday (preferably after we’d played some kind of team sport together, and he’d laid on the pass for my match-winning score).
I’d assumed that he wouldn’t have a sip of alcohol until he was absolutely ready – physically, mentally, legally – but like almost every parenting idea I ever had, that one soon went out of the window.
I never imagined he’d get so close to out-drinking me so soon”
About a year ago, my son and some friends had a brief, but almost catastrophic, brush with drugs.
When his Mum and I found out, we cracked down hard on his social life, his school work and his pocket money.
But we also offered him the chance to channel his temptations and drink a certain number of beers at home – seeing booze as the least worst option if he really wanted to dabble in mind-altering substances.
He accepted, and his drinking life began. And, although it’s been a big success in terms of keeping him out of trouble, I never imagined that he’d get so close to out-drinking me quite so soon.
I mean, at 16 and two-thirds he’s almost as tall as me, though not quite as strong. He’s faster than me, although he can’t yet run as far, and already he’s my superior when it comes to proper manly stuff like DIY.
But the thought that he might be a better drinker than me? It’s really making me feel strange.
It takes me eight mugs of tea, a lie-in and Ibuprofen to get over the Beer-o-Virus, while the kids wake up symptom-free”
All of a sudden, I have empathy for my Father-In-Law, who’s in his late 80s now and has only just stopped trying to match his own three boozy daughters tot for tot.
I remember, about a decade ago, feeling a mixture of admiration and pity when I saw him the morning after a heavy session: cheerful, uncomplaining, functioning – yet shuffling around like he’d been hit by a medium-sized truck.
These days, it takes me about eight mugs of tea, a lie-in and the occasional Ibuprofen to get over the effects of the Beer-o-Virus, while the kids wake up fresh as dew and symptom-free.
As with its deadly cousin, it seems that those least affected by the Beer-o-Virus are the young and strong.