Why is it, when we have had a few pints, the urge to sing comes upon us?
My favourite intoxicated singer has to be the man who was arrested earlier this year, and put in the back of a police car by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After a little befuddled explanation he is recorded on the on-board camera singing the most perfect rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
I used to sing my way home, every now and then. I even remember doing a spitfire impression down Rochester High Street at 1am on one occasion, though I was not the ringleader.
But those halcyon days of rolling home through the village from a Kent pub seem far gone now. We just don’t seem to be as good at the whole alcohol business as once we were.
The scientists are adamant that age increases sensitivity to the effects of alcohol.
It’s all the fault of water. As a baby we are 70-80 per cent water but that balance changes subtly as we journey through life. A young adult is around 60 per cent water; by the time we reach 50 we may be only 50 per cent.
So the alcohol has less water in which to dilute, according to NIAAA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. They have a higher Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). While they can metabolise alcohol as well as a youngster, they suffer more marked effects.*
And the effects were sadly most pronounced in my husband, this week.
Phil likes to visit his friend in Wimbledon. After an evening at a restaurant, made jovial with good wine, he ambles home through the village to a very nice flat indeed to keel beerily over and snore ’till the morning.
The morning after, Phil called from work. He was coming home early. He didn’t feel at all well. We were concerned for an instant, until the penny dropped. Mr Philip Shrewsday may conceivably have over indulged a little the evening before.
Much later, we arrived to pick him up from the station. And he told us sorrowfully that it wasn’t his fault: that it was all on account of the pair’s fastidious honesty.
The evening before, Phil and his friend had managed to make it 200 yards down the road from his friend’s flat, to the Italian Restaurant almost opposite.
After the meal the bill was miscalculated – an error in the boys’ favour – but they dutifully pointed out the mistake.
The owner was delighted by their honesty. He vanished, and reappeared with a yellow bottle. It was filled with lemon liqueur, and it had two tiny shot glasses squatting alongside, ready for action.
Phil- usually fastidiously abstemious- filled a glass and tasted it. Delicious. Before he knew, rather like Goldilocks with the bears’ porridge, he had had three.
And then, while he could still focus, he looked at the bottle.
It declared- my husband insists- that the spirits within were 40% proof.
Out of the restaurant, across the road and upstairs to bed: Phil woke six hours later with that unmistakable dry-mouthed headachy queasiness. Oh, dear. And on a work day, too.
Never again, he has sworn.
It is fortunate, then, that as we have got older we have become more excessive without the alcohol.
We do not need it to sing raucously all the way home.
We are off to a village in Cornwall, where we shall visit the village pub, tank up on Coke, and sing ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’ all the way back, just to prove a point.
It is perhaps fortunate that for a few days, home is all of 200 yards down the road.
* Dufour, M.,and Fuller, R.K. Alcohol in the elderly. Annu Rev Med 46:123-132, 1995.
Picture Source here