One book on alcohol is enough, surely? Well, not quite, which is the reason I recently put out Alcohol for Nerds, a slim compilation of self-contained pieces on alcohol. Here’s why.
The alcohol science presented in Alcohol Companion produced many useful answers, at least for me. But it also raised many difficult questions.“Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” as Adam Ant neatly put it in 1982.
With Ant’s queries still echoing my mind after my first book I felt I should at least try to offer a few solid answers. There is the recreational vacuum Ant notes, but also the ingrained beliefs and ideas to re-mould.
The science makes it abundantly clear, for instance, that drinking alcohol to deal with tension, low mood, shyness or to gain inspiration is liable to backfire. But then, what do we do? In Alcohol for Nerds, I explore some alternatives, like learning improv, soothing my woes by plunging myself in icy water and taking imaginative flights of fancy through psychogeography.
It is also clear that the sense of freedom we get from alcohol has the fundamental flaw of coming with a disabled brain. But what is the alternative? There are performance skills, as I found. And we can also broaden our ideas of freedom. Freedom is not just about lowering barriers to commerce, it is also about self-realisation and an absence of dependence.
The science I explore in Alcohol Companion has universal implications, but the way we deal with these implications does not need to be universal. Alcohol for Nerds is the product of me, a nerd, wrangling with the issues it raises for the last four years. I hope the results are of some help.
There are many other perspectives on this which each chime with different people. They have one thing in common: there can be few more concrete ways to improve our mental and physical health, and our personal finances than to come to terms with consistent low-risk drinking.
With a pandemic running riot, this is, perhaps, a uniquely good time to give it a try. ■