MAN’S WORLD: The wine drinker within

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MY lovely wife was away at a conference.

So the good news was I could please myself.

The bad news was that the kitchen needed tidying. Urgently. As in, before tomorrow.

I debated briefly and decided to please myself.

The Thai Curry and a bottle of beer.

Then the FA Cup on telly.

Leave the kitchen until tomorrow. Us real men like to live dangerously…

Damn it, no beer in the fridge.

No matter, here’s the wife’s bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

Better make that ‘very dangerously…’

But I’m not stupid. There was hardly any gin left. I’d say about one measure. And when Jane has driven 120 miles back home in the dark what will she want? Precisely. No point spending a day as an A&E statistic.

So no beer and no gin.

Red wine it was.

Clearly that meant I couldn’t have a Thai curry but there was plenty of cheese in the fridge.

But there was only the good stuff left on the wine rack.

The bottles I’d so carefully hidden from Tom and Jessica over Christmas.

I couldn’t justify opening one of those on a cold and lonely Tuesday night.

Fiddlesticks.

“Where are you going, Dad?”

“To the shop. For a beer.”

“Do you really need a beer, Dad?”

“Well technically no. But as you’ll discover before you’re much older, Ben, you can’t really have a curry without a beer.”

With that I boldly went where I’d frequently gone before. The corner shop. And became quite depressed…

Tesco do not see early February as the time to seduce their regulars with special offers.

The beer was resolutely full price.

And I was bored with it. The days when San Miguel carried me back to a Spanish beach are long gone.

So maybe a bottle of wine after all.

But the more I watch water ooze out of supermarket chicken and the more I see their bacon visibly shrink on the grill, the more I wonder what they do with the wine…

I clearly needed to make a decision: a) I was hungry and b) I was uncomfortably aware that I was spending far too much time staring at bottles of alcohol.

I grabbed a bottle of Australian Shiraz.

And some dog biscuits so I didn’t look like a desperate wino.

“I thought you were going to have curry, Dad?”

“No. Just a couple of crackers with some cheese.”

“And a bottle of red wine.”

I explained that I obviously wouldn’t be drinking the whole bottle.

That a glass of wine was scientifically proven to have health benefits.

I still felt guilty as I opened it.

Once upon a time – when we read textbooks on parenting instead of standing computer screens on them – we didn’t drink much.

Certainly not through the week and definitely not before six o’clock.

Somewhere along the line those boundaries became blurred.

Then they disappeared completely.

Have we been a good influence on our children? Tom – as you know – comes home from university and demands to know why we haven’t any dessert wine.

Jessica has a beer funnel in the corner of her lounge.

When I was their age I was drinking lager & lime. No, not Mexican lager with a wedge of lime stuck fashionably in the bottle. Draught lager with lime cordial. It’s a wonder I’ve any teeth left.

The phone rang. Jane, I expect. “Can you get that, Ben? I’m just in the kitchen.”

“Dad’s fine,” I heard my son say. “He’s in the kitchen. No, he’s not tidying up. He’s pouring himself a large glass of wine. Then he says he’s going to watch football…”