I drink. Probably more than is good for me. That's what I'm inclined to put down on medical questionnaires. Yet I don't know when I was last in a pub. Certainly it is probably more than a year ago. I don't follow the practice of going home for what in Ireland is known as "the tea". And then abandoning respectability, as it were, and heading for the pub, where real life will begin.
I prefer the French style: alcohol (in my case red wine) as part of living, and frequently accompanying food. And I love what is called in the tropics a sundowner, a glass at the end of the working day, watching the 6.01 news if at home, (and yes, I live alone), or meeting a friend for a quick catch-up, maybe in our new (and wonderful) local wine bar. Then heading home for supper. In other words, not ending the day by staying in the pub until throwing out time.
And yes, I do know first hand the damage alcohol abuse causes, and am inclined to have a lot more sympathy for those around the alcoholic. Alcoholics can be selfish, manipulative, dishonest and destructive, even if alcoholism is an illness.
In Ireland, when we say "a few drinks", we often mean getting ossified; drinking into near insensibility, with no memory the next morning of what happened the previous night. And the practice has resulted in official Ireland finally acknowledging our "unhealthy" relationship with alcohol. Translated, it means we can drink to get drunk, not to enjoy or taste.
Yet there is a sense in this country that drinking is kept in control if it's concentrated in the pub, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
It was the reason, way back when, that our first Minister for Justice, Kevin O'Higgins, introduced the now long-gone "holy hour" between half two and half three, to try to drive the dockers and other labourers home to their wives and food. The modern version of that seems to be the mantra "of course I don't drink during the week" - and come 6pm on a Friday, the speaker heads for the pub, drinks steadily until stocious, before staggering to a club.
But they don't drink at home: that's dangerous, a sign of alcohol abuse.
Michael McDowell, as Minister for Justice, tried to civilise our drinking habits by introducing the concept of the "cafe bar". It got nowhere; alcohol had to be kept where it belonged: in the pub.
When I started in journalism, an elderly colleague (probably the same age I am now) told me during my first week, that when I "began to drink" (I already had) that I should follow his late father's practice and advice.
"My father was a drunk," he told me sunnily. "But my mother never even knew he took a drink; he had too much respect for her ever to drink at home."
It conjured up visions of the Edwardian era, of the shivering, miserable wife standing outside the pub in the rain, her baby in her arms, waiting for her lord and master to come out and give her the money for food before he drank away his wages.
It may have something to do with Jansenism, the puritanical version of Catholicism which considered that anything beautiful or pleasurable was sinful. So we ring-fenced alcohol consumption, putting it outside family life. And our authorities are actually endorsing this: the assumption is that if we drink alcohol at all we will do it to excess. And there are signs of a belief that legislation should be tailored to deal mainly with those who abuse it, which is about as sensible as drafting general censorship laws aimed at under-12s.
Accepting that alcohol is a joy and a pleasure rather than something which we use to blot out reality is what we need. And a good start would be bringing its civilised moderate use into family life.
Already, the anti-alcohol lobby is claiming that the pandemic will be shown to have resulted in a huge surge of alcohol abuse; the vintners counter-claim that, when the sums are done, it will probably be found that there has been less overall consumption.
We'll have to wait to find out.