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Rules for drinking

When I headed off to university, my mother didn’t tell me not to drink. Or even not to drink too much. Obviously both would be futile when advising a university student anywhere in the world at any point in history. So instead, she gave me my first rule of drinking:
1) Only drink when you can afford to drink well.
Drinking isn’t necessary; it’s not eating. And drinking cheap booze generally makes for a worse hangover. This is therefore an important rule, but one which is notably difficult to live by as a student.

I actually didn’t drink my first year. Not because I couldn’t afford to do so well. Georgetown, after all, is in the United States, so I couldn’t buy alcohol. Additionally there is (or  at least was) a tradition on the Hilltop that upperclassmen host free parties which underclassmen attend. I just didn’t fancy it. So I’m not sure when someone told me the rules of drinking at Georgetown…or who it was. But here they are:
2) No waste.
3) Don’t die. 
Now, we always said that the order of these rules was important. I still think that’s true. In my aged state, though, I’ve decided to revise the meaning of rule #2. Rather than leaving nothing on the table, I now treat it as: if one is drunk, drinking anything more is a waste. If it’s good, one can’t appreciate it, and if it’s bad one shouldn’t be drinking it anyway.

Oxford didn’t add to my drinking rules, perhaps because funds were rather tight. I did very much enjoy being able to buy a pint in the buttery for £1.50 before heading in to dinner in hall. Other than large quantities of wine in the GCR, or large quantities of bad cocktails at Cardinals, the evening pint was my main indulgence, and it was rather self-regulating–as so many things in Oxford seem to be.

Then, of course, I moved to London. Unlike Oxford, one can’t count on bumping to friends spontaneously; almost all social activity requires planning. I also have a job now, and some consideration must be made for that. And so, since it can take an hour to get between two points in Inner London, I created some new rules for drinking. Strictly speaking, I guess they’re rules about when & where to drink. But they’re important for maintaining my sanity in the metropolis, given my deep distaste for the tube.

4) Don’t drink in more than one neighbourhood in a single night. 
When I lived on Piccadilly I used to joke that if something was 3 or fewer tube stops away, I’d take the bus…and if it was more than 3 stops away, I wasn’t going. This rule can be partially modified to allow a second neighbourhood when it is one’s own neighbourhood. But it doesn’t allow going from home to, say, Southwark for a drink and then to Hampstead for dinner.

5) Don’t get farther from your bed after 11pm. 
If you change venues after the pubs close, make sure you’re heading in the right direction: towards bed. This is the rule I ignored to my peril last Saturday evening.

6) After 1am, head home if there are two songs in a row that you don’t like.
I’ll admit this rule is a bit arbitrary, but I’ve found that if I’m still out at 1am I need a (quite simple) heuristic for deciding when to throw in the towel. Otherwise inertia can easily carry me through to 4am, which is rarely a place I want to be.

After last Saturday, I feel I a new rule would be well worth making, and so:
7) Don’t go out after hosting a dinner.
Especially if dinner involved more than one bottle of wine per person. It won’t end well. Stay home. Tidy up a little bit, and crawl into bed with a book.

 8) Don’t drink after 5pm on Sundays.
This is more an aspiration than a rule for me at this point. Sunday pub lunch becomes Sunday pub afternoon. And then suddenly it’s last orders and you’re miles from home and all you want is 11 hours of sleep before starting in on another week. Must remember to avoid that in the future.


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