I’ve not drunk alcohol since 1976; I blame David Vine.
Before then, albeit for one legal year, I’d have the odd half in pubs near where I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s Balham. I wasn’t cut out for drinking, but I’d tag along. On Friday nights, when the Salvation Army sellers of War Cry would come into The Hope on Wandsworth Common, I’d be one of the few in our group capable of finishing the picture crossword in their weekly newspaper.
On 5th April 1976 (my 19th birthday) I went with my mates to the Surrey Tavern. We’d play pool there and put millions of pounds into the juke box to listen to Save your kisses for me; Fernando and Music by John Miles. These were the top 3 singles on my birthday. You really got your money’s worth with Music as it went on for about a week.
As I was singing along “Music was my first love” etc. etc., my mates thought it’d be hysterically funny to empty that month’s Smirnoff factory output into my half a pint of lager and lime.
Later that evening, when the world was spinning faster than anything they’d ever had at Battersea Funfair, I decided alcohol wasn’t for me.
The next month I went on holiday to Austria with my dad. He tempted me with what he called ‘innocuous’ light ale. What I didn’t realise, despite him being very well-read, was that this was one big word he didn’t fully know the meaning off. The words from the Tony Newley hit, ‘Stop the world I want to get off’ rang round my head again.
Travelling on a coach around Innsbruck the next day, I’ve never felt so ill; I still can’t listen to the theme tune to Ski Sunday without feeling nauseous!