When I was 18, I wrote an article for a magazine asking why alcohol was deemed acceptable but smoking marijuana was not. I couldn’t understand why people were allowed to get drunk, become abusive and anti-social and yet, it was in the main felt to be ok. While smoking a joint, which produced quiet and reflective behaviour was illegal. I was surprised that it got printed. My parents were not amused. Although my brother did once persuade my mother to have a puff. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” she said, “I don’t feel anything.”
I was a hippy spreading peace and love, fighting for freedom, and not associating with men with short hair! Now in my Sixties – oh how I wish it still was the Sixties – while I haven’t smoked for decades, I still believe that marijuana should be legalised. Experts – don’t you love that word it covers a multitude of sins – say that of all the people who smoke pot, in other words, about 9 percent will become dependent. But of all the people who drink, about 16 percent will become alcoholics.
So why am I talking about this right now. Yesterday I was reminded of how destructive alcohol can be when an ex-lodger of mine, Ian Royce died aged 51 from severe pneumonia and multiple organ failure. You might have read about him in the press. He was a stand-up comedian and well known warm up man. He was a lovely man, a gentleman, very funny, brilliant at his job but he had demons and those demons resulted in his alcoholism. In my life I have know a few people who have battled with alcohol but sadly they didn’t survive.
Actually the lodger before Ian was also an alcoholic. At one point when we heard a thud in her room we had to break down the door to check if she was ok – which she wasn’t. Maybe it is something about our house.
This is not a blog about alcohol or alcoholics, and I am not preaching but it saddened me to see such a waste of life which is why I felt impelled to mention it. And I guess I worry that in times of stress which is what we are all currently experiencing one can drink more often and more heavily. Look I am no puritan as my friends know I like a drop of good whisky, but I am mindful that alcohol doesn’t heal wounds, only stops the pain temporarily and can easily become a habit.
On a more cheerful and banal note I am thinking about winter and social distancing. How am I going to see my friends if it is cold and we can’t sit in the garden? Throughout the summer I have happily entertained friends in the garden and on the patio – but what is going to happen when it gets cold. I was thinking about installing an awning on the patio but apparently fixing them to an Edwardian Bay window is notoriously difficult and expensive. So, I am contemplating putting up a semi-permanent winter gazebo across the patio so I can continue to be sociable. In the meantime we have been experimenting. Toby and Linda had their best friends for dinner in the kitchen at the weekend. It was raining so they social distanced with the french windows open and a heater by their table.
Fortunately I have lovely neighbours so if I am in need company we can meet out front, with our coats and hats. Yesterday Nadia who lives next door shared a post her 20-year-old daughter had written about living with a severely disabled brother. It blew me away. Beautifully written with such insight and honesty. I asked if I could share it here and the answer was affirmative. So, if you have the time, I urge you to take 5 minutes to read it. Here is a taster of one of the things that she says:
“This is another thing having a disabled sibling teaches you: to simply love people for who and what they are rather than loving an idea of something, which is actually really easy to do. When you love the idea of something, or you fall in love with a hypothetical you actually stop yourself from loving what actually is or what actually does exist. “
A young women with a very wise head on her.
“Let’s be careful out there”