As an eight-year-old, at Christmas, I believed there were two ways I could get drunk – like my relatives.
The first was Pimm’s:
My auntie, who also lived in our Balham flats, whilst being sponsored by Embassy before they ventured into supporting snooker and darts, would have bottles of virtually everything alcoholic in her flat except potcheen (and she didn’t have that because of her allergic reaction to potatoes).
It was tradition on Christmas evening to go to my auntie’s and, whilst everyone else got Pimm’s, I had a glass full of half the contents of the greengrocers opposite the flats, lots of lemonade, a tiny umbrella, as used by The Borrowers, but not a sniff of Pimm’s.
The second route, I believed, was with the help of the mandatory Christmas box of chocolate liqueurs.
However, after eating a third, I’d already began to feel nauseous. Given that you need to eat 700 grams (that’s fourteen Picnics!) to get one shot of liqueur, I’d have had to have eaten one anti-emetic tablet every time I’d tuck into a Tia Maria Bounty (never did quite learn the names).
A consequence of this lack of alcoholic intake meant I remained stone-cold sober, although often felt sick and burped a lot courtesy of more than enough chocolate and a surfeit of lemonade!
A third route could have been with Advocaat, but I didn’t like the taste of “Snowballs”, having massive doubts about the colour and felt the texture was like that of blancmange which was past its sell-by date.
So, needing to go to meetings saying, “my name is Michael and I think I have a problem”, was never necessary as an eight-year-old!