London - I have been thinking a lot about women and alcohol. My theory is that, much as women have been admonished to shop, and be tiny, we have been brainwashed into believing that drinking is part of a “lifestyle choice”.
The marketing has been blatant (Moet & Chandon ads in the glossies) and subliminal - a champagne flute in the hand in a fashion shot.
Everyone talked about how much Carrie Bradshaw of Sex And The City spent on shoes, but did you not notice how much she drank? And smoked! No wonder no one is planning a third movie because by all rights she should already be dead.
I am embroiled in the thick(!) of London Fashion Week, which is, of course, always awash with champagne.
The Topshop show traditionally offers champagne and canapes, to be consumed moments before etiolated children are paraded before our eyes. The talk before that show last season was all about how many carbs were in a narrow flute of bubbly, not what it might do to our live(r)s.
I remember being seated slap bang opposite Whitney Houston and her then husband Bobby Brown at a Dolce & Gabbana fashion show in Milan. Their limbs were intertwined, like a pretzel. Whitney was clearly drunk, with heavy lidded eyes. In Milan, champagne is proffered as you arrive at a show, and backstage afterwards (I could publish a list of all the fashion directors, male and female, who’ve had to check into rehab - but this column is only 800 words long).
As nut-brown supermodel Gisele Bundchen stalked within inches of Whitney’s nose, which had that traditional chalky hue of the African-American woman who wears too much foundation in a bid to look less black, she lifted a flute of bubbly unsteadily to her lips. Her decolletage was damp, where she had missed her mouth. After the show, she staggered, blaming her shoes.
Mindful there is a history of alcoholism in my family, I’ve been teetotal since New Year’s Eve. I was going to write a column saying why on earth shouldn’t women drink, and shorten their lives, given all we have to look forward to in old age is a rough bed bath from a sadist.
But that would be flippant. Who would want to live like an old friend of mine, who thinks she is so smart, disguising her drinking.
I admit there were a sticky few days at the beginning of this month when I suffered the loss of a loved one, but I have managed to stick to sparkling grape juice. I’ve been keeping a diary of my moods, mainly because I was instructed to do so by my hypnotherapist.
Rather than wake each morning feeling a weight of doom pinning me down, I have occasionally felt cheerful, optimistic, which isn’t like me at all. I have had more energy: jogging with my dogs, which they find very exciting, rather than sticking to a brisk walk.
I knew in theory that alcohol was a depressive but had thought this more government propaganda. If I sip a glass now, out of politeness, it tastes and smells like poison, which of course it is.
When I went to Warrington not long ago, to observe young women binge-drinking in their natural habitat, I found the reason most sat in gutters at the end of the night was because of their Carvela shoes. To a woman, each said they drank only once a week, and would still be up for work at 7am the next morning.
Driving to my hotel, I was pulled over by a patrol car. “Would you mind getting out of your vehicle?” the policeman said. “You were walking unsteadily earlier.”
“Yeah, I’m wearing Prada,” I said, and he didn’t even breathalyse me!
I condemn most alarmist health-scare stories - such as the recent one that said people who walk slowly are at risk of heart failure (people who dawdle on pavements, usually in couples, are more likely to give me a heart attack as they obstruct my super-busy path).
But surely it’s middle-class dinner-party givers who should be outed in print, not teenagers who show their knickers.
Only middle-aged, middle-class women know how we long for that first ice-cold sip. We tend to keep it together until we fall apart, when it’s usually too late to save us. - Daily Mail