Monday 19 February 2018

John Daly: Raising a glass to when abstinence was the norm - with no '12 pubs of Christmas'

'Does anyone practise abstinence anymore?'
'Does anyone practise abstinence anymore?'

John Daly

I was confronted by one of the less palatable sights of the yuletide season earlier this week, when a throng of young men well into 'The 12 Pubs of Christmas' invaded the mellow interior of my local.

By the volume, the swearing and general disorder circulating about them, I estimated they were probably at the 10th station - and wished, like most in the pub, that they had embarked on this annual inebriation expedition to somewhere like Newcastle or Nantes. Anywhere but here, in fact. After they finally departed the premises an hour later, we were prompted to wonder - does anyone practise abstinence anymore?

During the All Souls month of November, a long-standing Irish custom saw many people choosing to go 'on the wagon' as a sacrifice for the salvation of the departed. Apart from getting some credit in the world, there was the added bonus - given the expensive excesses of December - of having a few bob in the bank to boot.

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