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by Guyon Espiner (Allen & Unwin) just published.- a jewel of excellence

By Stan Stewart

Not good news - but news we must think about.

My personal interest in alcohol.

I gave up drinking three months ago. I made the decision after un-glorious episode in front of my grandson. Tempted by a hip flask of Vodka, without me noticing it I became incapacitated. My grandson had to help me to move. On reflection I was so embarrassed I decided, “This is it!” And I gave up drinking alcohol. For other members of our family, including my wife, Pauline, they have taken a vow to not drink alcohol until our son, whose name is Walker, walks again.

There is also another background to my decision. Living in Brisbane, each morning I read the Courier Mail – Queensland’s main newspaper. The Courier Mail is a rather self-righteous newspaper. It’s headlines feature catastrophes and agonises about awful crimes in Queensland committed by ‘terrible’ people – often young people. What I have noticed about the horror stories is that alcohol and drugs feature in most of them. For instance, it is there in stories of people beating each other up, stabbings, impulsive shootings, torture, unbelievable traffic accidents, horrendous neglect leading to the death of children and partners. Alcohol is not the only component of brain fog leading to violence and horror, but it is usually a component.

I have been thinking perhaps I am the only one who feels uneasy about ever-present booze, but I am not. Many young people are becoming wary about its effects on health, judgement and relationships. For instance, last weekend in “The Herald on Sunday’ (March12) in their magazine ’Reset’ Rosin Kelly writes a major article, “I Gave Sober Dating a Go’. I believe there’s a trend out there.

THE DRINKING GAME: The author Guyon Espiner is one of New Zealand’s most respected journalists and has been so for years. He is currently an investigative reporter for RNZ.

This is a serious book with a depth of New Zealand and international research. Added to this, Espiner shares his own journey with alcohol; starting with teenage drinking and going through to late middle age. As one of New Zealand’s top journalists, he was at the coal face of New Zealand’s political life. Through the major political ups and downs of our country, he shared drinks with shakers and movers of our political life. If you’re interested in late night, bar room tales about our political masters, this is your book!

The negative results of our nations acceptance of alcohol as our normal social lubricant are many and widespread. One that caught my eye was ‘Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders’ (FASD). New Zealand’s expert neuropsychologist, Dr Valerie McGinn, estimates that in our country around 2,800 babies are born with this disorder every year. This is a very serious disability and individuals with it have a reduced life expectancy. Certainly, in every community in which I worked, I encountered one or more young persons with this disability.

The detrimental effects of alcohol on health are far beyond anything I had previously understood. He quotes a major study published in the Lancet in 2018 which in summary says, “There is strong support here for the guideline published by the Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom who found, “..there is no safe level of alcohol consumption”. This also includes red wine which we used to believe, if used in moderation, promoted health of heart and body.

He details the alcohol industry’s fanatical resistance to displaying health warnings on liquor. Their products are still promoted as elixirs of fun and essential accompaniments for any meal, especially fine dining. Recently there has been a focus on women – no gathering of girlfriends is complete without it. Really!

‘The Drinking Game’ is no joke. It is serious stuff. Read it. It may lengthen your life and add depth and enjoyment to your relationships.

In stock in Whitianga Paper Plus, and on order by the Mercury Bay Library.


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