Now ensconced in front of the laptop, glass of wine in hand, my thoughts turn to yet another year of the righteous anti-alcohol onslaught; an exercise in infantilising nazi-esque social engineering epitomised by the BBC's 00:05 1st of January "Happy New Year" story.
The cost of treating the growing number of people drinking heavily threatens to cripple NHS hospitals, warn experts.Now where was I? Sorry went through to the kitchen to chop some leeks into my soup and lost my train, and as for trains - what about that new year hike in fares, during a time of recession? I thought the fares tracked the RPI? (sorry) That was about 0% over the last year, was it not?
Erm, sorry that wasn't it, I'm obviously struggling to get back into this blogging thing - or is it just holding back the floodgates of outrage that's the problem?
Oh I've found it, there's my gall bladder, and my train of thought - my poor excuse for a cogent intellect...
It would appear that us naughty adults are under attack from all angles over alcohol, the SNP are on the bandwagon whipping the horses in this cheery New Year propoganda release, radio and TV repeated the same kill joy "press-release disguised as a story" ad nauseum - and to top it all the sorry excuse for a stink-tank, Policy Exchange, thinks we should all pay £500 if we turn up at hospital after imbibing a couple of drinks.
The Filthy Smoker over at the inestimable Devil's place has a poke at this story, revealing some of the life-hating villains behind this festive guilt trip; topping it off with an exemplary demolition job on the already very dodgy financial claims - it's worth a read if you haven't already.
I have a slightly different angle; the anti-alcohol lobbyists have derived considerable self congratulatory justification in their festive message by the timely announcement that the Russian government have decided to impose the second minimum vodka price in 5 years, increasing the minimum price of a bottle of vodka to $3. This increase has been hailed by the SNP, campaigners and the press as an anti-alcoholism measure, and who are we to doubt that?
Well informed people that read non-UK based media, perhaps?
The motive behind the Russian minimum price is not health, it is officially about putting a stop to non-excise duty paid cheap vodka - hooch, or 'samogon'. It's about tax revenue, as always - follow the money. The Russian government and health campaigners alike publicly acknowledge that minimum pricing will not reduce deaths by alcohol, they know - it's been tried already. The consensus of opinion is that the causes of Russian alcohol abuse are much more deep rooted; social, financial, climatic and education - to name but a few.
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Minister ignores Moscow's real intent; co-opting their hike, to £1.60 per bottle, to help justify an ill-informed social engineering policy that will ultimately fail - I wonder if we will see a retraction of that 'news' piece?
As for alcohol deaths in Scotland, the statistics are quite clear - there were 1360 deaths wholly attributable to alcohol in 2003, not 3000, of a total of 58064. There were 14049 wholly attributable patient-specific discharges, not 42000, of a total of 569269 [Alcohol attributable mortality and morbidity: alcohol population attributable fractions for Scotland, June 2009].
The difference in the actual figures and those quoted by politicians and press? The inclusion of 'partially attributable' figures, make of that what you want - personally I see it as symptomatic of lazy thinking and scare-mongering of the most risible kind. Behaviour typical of campaigners who choose to ignore reality to further their campaigns - grabbing at meta-data straws and anecdotal evidence does not a case make.
The reality is that many of us drink, and regularly - given that, a biased researcher could cite alcohol as contributory in many medical admissions/conditions even if an actual mechanism does not exist, and that's exactly what the much inflated and well publicised Scottish figures demonstrate.
Drinking is normal behaviour, not aberrant and dangerous - surely an analytical starting point should take heed of this fact? Not to do so is to set an unrealistic norm from which to measure the expected "adverse" influence of the demon drink - you might even get the lazy lazy campaign backing and terror inducing results you want for your social marketing exercise.
Me? I can't fly - personally I blame the booze, need to drink more.
And stop wagging your finger at me, bastards...