Rose Prince: The experts would say I'm a binge drinker ... but give me a bit of credit
By all current assessment, that makes me a raging social alcoholic and groups me with the girl in the purple miniskirt and white court shoes, splayed face down on the pavement outside a pub in the city centre on a Friday night. But I credit myself with a more sophisticated approach to my drinking, something akin to Madame Bollinger’s to champagne: "I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad," she said "Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty."
Quite so, except I tend to drink water when thirsty and I am extremely fussy about the quality of wine that I drink. If it is disgusting, I will not take more than a couple of sips. I am a middle-class, middle-aged social drinker with taste – and that, I believe, is the saving grace when it comes to my alcohol intake. Unfortunately, the British National Health Service does not agree.
For the purposes of research, I visited the NHS Choices website, which provides a link to an online gadget that calculates whether you drink too much. “How often do you have 6 or more units [three glasses of wine] of alcohol on one occasion,” it asks. I tick “Weekly”.