Thanks to a combination of night-time curfews, social-distancing rules, pubs closing, restaurants failing, the ‘rule of six’ and compulsory mask-wearing, that basic and necessary human need for people to meet for a drink has never been so difficult. Now, with the government’s new three-tier Covid strategy in place, anyone at any moment could find their local pub shut, their parties cancelled, and all forms of indoor mixing prohibited. Millions in the UK are already living under these restrictions. It’s a fair bet that millions more will soon join them. And if the government gives in to demands for a ‘circuit breaker’ — a short-term lockdown — it would in effect totally suspend social drinking as we know it.
In the wake of these restrictions, a disgruntled friend of mine spoke for many when he said to me: ‘What the hell are we supposed to do, drink on our own?’
‘Yes! You should try it,’ I said.
When I told him that I’d discovered during the first lockdown back in March that solitary drinking, contrary to popular thinking, is one of life’s great pleasures, he looked concerned and said: ‘Are you OK? Want to talk about anything?’
We solitary drinkers — we prefer to be called solo drinkers — have always been stigmatised. Drinking on your own is seen by the medical profession as a sign of such mental health problems as depression and alcoholism. And the public at large regard solo drinking with suspicion, particularly when it comes to men. It’s what sad, lonely men do. Sad men in smelly rooms. Sad sloshed men watching porn and drinking cheap wine. Sad lonely depressed men sending tweets they will regret in the morning. Sad men who weep themselves to sleep.
Nothing could be further from the truth — at least for me. I can just sit with a nice cold martini and Sinatra in the background and just chill. No noisy pub with poor service. No smoky parties where you can never find a drink. And there’s none of that bullying talk of, ‘Go on, have another one! Don’t be so boring!’ Plus, you don’t have to try and make clever or amusing chitchat for other people.
I don’t like to drink in public because I get drunk so easily. I always wanted to be a tough hard-drinking journo like Mailer or Hemingway, but when it comes to booze I’m a Bambi. I just have one Babycham and I’m blotto. Two drinks and I’m over the moon and under the table. Three and I’m under the hostess. So I’ll do my drinking on my own, thanks.
Solo drinking has its practical advantages as well. It’s much cheaper drinking on your own, because you don’t always have to buy endless rounds of drinks. And at the end of the evening you don’t have to get that expensive cab home, because you can just pass out on your sofa. Perfect! And best of all, the only drunken bore you have to suffer as a solo drinker is yourself.
So man up and drink up — on your own, that is. You’ll feel liberated from that dependence on needing other people around to enjoy a drink. After all, you can enjoy listening to music on your own, or eating a good meal on your own, so why not enjoy drinking on your own? Cheers.