Hello and welcome to the latest installment of 'Bill Tries To Justify His Drinking', my ongoing series in which I try to convince myself and the world around me that actually, a couple of cans of a week-night is not such a terrible thing.
Today's episode is packed with truly delicate reasoning, with everything from 'preserving my mental health' to 'supporting Irish SMEs' being abused in my pursuit of a guilt-free drink. But, as any parent will tell you, the only pleasures left to us are those of the guilty variety.
My wife was the one to start sounding the alarms when she realised that since early March I have spent around €500 on Irish craft beer, leading to what she has called a 'candemic', with a veritable kaleidoscope of weird-looking cans taking up precious hoarding space on the bottom shelf of the fridge and in the corner press. Don't worry, I reassure her, I will get through them. And I have, for if there was ever a time that justified wallowing in the joys of alcohol, then the middle of a pandemic is surely it.
I'm not a big drinker, just a consistent one, and while during non-plague times I would normally only enjoy an adult beverage on a weekend or within its penumbra - which, to be fair, can be anything from Thursday noon to Monday midnight - I rarely have more than two. And, to throw another self justification onto the pile, I usually drink beers with low strength - Whiplash's micro-IPA Northern Lights is a family friendly 2.8pc, and if my craft abacus is correct, four cans of that is equivalent to one DIPA banger. So more tasty liquid, with less alcohol therein, and more support to a small Irish business. Not all heroes wear capes, some of us just chug cans in our pyjamas whilst watching The Big Big Movie. For me, a drink at home is part of family life. I struggle to remember the last time I was in a pub.
Long before our red, round, spikey friend the coronavirus drifted our way and laid waste to our social life, I had more or less stopped going out. It sounds a bit odd when put like that, but in my mind it's a fairly natural progression - you just reach that point where a pint in the local doesn't warrant the price of a cab home, because it's the same pint, in the same pub, that it has been for years. It's great to meet up with friends, but a good day's hillwalking is infinitely more enjoyable than breathing moist air in a crowded pub. So when it comes to drink, I'd sooner do it at home, where the selection is better, and I am marginally less likely to get barred.
Obviously alcohol is a drug, and we are told that using it as a crutch is some supreme evil, but in times like these, when people are releasing terrible cover versions of the song Times Like These, or forcing you to listen to them drone on about an incredibly boring dream they had, you could do with a crutch of any description.
A sure sign that we are in some sort of Twilight Zone is the fact that I have allowed my eldest child to have a drink at the weekend. Just the one, as a consolation for the fact that her summer is, in fact, cancelled. Snoop Dogg was postponed, the school tour to Amsterdam was cancelled, as was Longitude, and those were just her big ticket events of 2020. Aside from those, it appears there will be no day trips to the beach, no sneaking into pubs with a fake ID, nothing.
All she has to look forward to right now is a Leaving Cert year from hell, looming on the horizon, and after that, trying to pick a course that will guide her into a recession-proof career. She turns 18 early next year, at which point our pubs may or may not be open, and she may or may not be able to buy me a pint in one, but until then I will continue to justify my own drinking, and occasionally her drinking too.