Out there - The flesh is weak and so is the spirit
I don't have a drink problem, but I do have an occasional problem with prosecco.
As the Bible says, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. My spirit thinks "just one or two nice glasses of wine after work and absolutely no smoking" but my flesh says "Did you just say processo on tap is £3 before 11pm? I'll take six and where can I smoke?" My friend and I are drinking in a very cool and understated east London establishment where the clientele shop in The Kooples and the waitresses all have PhDs in topknots.
The wine is excellent but the food is terrible. They bring us half a cold slimy aubergine with four pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. After swallowing all the wine and pushing the food aside, I suggest somewhere less highbrow - a gay bar that does karaoke.
In this bar, you can be sure of three things - a lesbian will sing a Taylor Swift song, you won't get hit on and there will be prosecco on tap (the most pleasing combination of three words in the English language). When we arrive, the bar is empty, save for two men playing pool. There is a whiff of disinfectant and the barman is moody and doesn't like my accent, as he tells me. Usually I'd lecture him on the historic persecution of the Irish abroad and stomp out shouting 'You can thank us for The Beaufort Scale later buddy', but the prosecco is ordered and we've signed up to sing an 80s power ballad and Nirvana (to show versatility).
When the time comes to sing, I chicken out, but my friend takes to the stage for a triumphant rendition of the perm-tastic Heart classic Alone. A crowd circle her feet clutching at her legs in adoration. The scene is reminiscent of Botticelli's Birth of Venus but with professional gay dancers in tank tops and cycling shorts instead of nymphs.
At 3am both my flesh and my spirit are weak, so I make an executive decision to go home and leave my friend behind kissing the only straight man in the bar.
Eleanor Goggin - Stricker is causing me to be stricken
I think I'm on the road to yet another semi addiction. I don't really think I'm addicted to anything, I just embrace things a tad too much. Like wine and fags. My son started hyperventilating when he discovered that I have a betting app on my phone. "You're like somebody out of Coronation Street. You drink, you smoke and now you're gambling".
I might add he has never watched any of the soaps. I might also add that my drinking is limited to when I go out and my gambling to big events. OK, the smoking is fairly consistent. And there is a bit of a link-up between the other two. When I come home after a few drinks I think I know it all when it comes to winners. A bit like men long ago. They were all winners after a few drinks. Rose-tinted glasses and all that. I only put small amounts on. Three euro each way. Cover all risks.
My son says I have most of the field covered.
He sits watching some of the big golfing events with me and when someone gets a birdie I give a whoop of delight. "Jesus, don't tell me you have money on him." And so on and so on. Pretty much all the guys out there. And I still manage to lose.
I have what would now appear to be a fetish for an American golfer called Steve Stricker. I've always put a few bob on him and while he does well for a while, he loses it when it comes to the final day. If anyone knows anyone who knows him could they ask him to get in touch and let me know when he thinks he might actually win something? I reckon he has to win some day.
Maybe they could just let him know that I think he's great and even if he is in his late 40s, he can still do it. Would somebody just tell him to do it for me? I point out to my son that I'll be fine in the old folk's home. An internet connection, endless supply of fags and my vodka and Diet Coke. No need for them to visit me. I wonder is there a home out there with a poker school? Maybe I'll have to settle for bingo.
Aine O'Connor - Toxic lessons instead of sexual truths
In 1993 there was a film called Indecent Proposal in which Demi Moore was married to Woody Harrelson and they were broke. So, when squillionaire Robert Redford offered a million dollars for one unattached night of passion with Demi they were tempted, but horrified. There were lots of moral conundrums, how would they feel (apart from rich) afterwards? What would Woody do when Demi was bonking Bob? Plus Robert Redford was still handsome and Woody Harrelson wasn't handsome yet.
But the main dilemma was about money for sex, many's the pub that saw heated debates about "Would you sleep with someone for a million dollars?" More than a few people might have thought "Eh have you any idea how many idiots I've slept with for free?" But outwardly most people adopted some moral stance, divided roughly along virgin/whore and Gandhi/Gordon Gekko lines.
Throughout history, and still in some religious circles, sexual morality has rather overshadowed every other kind, with clinging womanfully to your virginity being prized above any other virtue. Presumably sex was so long venerated because the powers that decided these things just couldn't accept that humankind was so utterly enthralled by, not to mention dependent on, something so daft. Yet despite a healthy swing away from extremism in matters of how's your father, it is really depressing that the ghastly gender divide remains.
Young teens love reality TV shows about party-mad yoofs living and socialising together. There is an issue about young ones watching shows where there is lots of talk about sex, but arguably the biggest issue is not what they do, but what they say. Shows that celebrate a change in sexual morality often just prove that there has been little change. The men often speak horribly about women, the women's usual defence is to call themselves sluts before anyone else does. That's a far more toxic lesson than any sexual truth.