Grog – lessons and tips

The Christmas party season is coming up. Summer Bacchanal and all, season of fruit pies, plum duff, beaches, barbies and sandflies.

And lots and lots of alcohol.

So please take the foregoing as a different version of the usual seasonal warnings from those po-faced finger waggers who get paid to deliver those sorts of warnings.

Although an extremely well behaved type these days, I’m blowed if I’m going to turn all pious about other people letting loose. Just get someone else to drive, and try to keep the noise down if other people are trying to sleep, OK?

I stopped drinking – voluntarily – when I decided to try for law school and I vowed I would not drink again until I got accepted.

My pledge became academic (hah!) part way through that year when I got glandular fever and managed to get hepatitis at the same time. The liver has never been the same since, and these days I confine myself to the odd glass of wine, the odd beer, and, on occasion, a good single malt to round off the week.

Until my mid 20s I liked Jim Beam and beer. In that order. And on occasion I was very silly and paid for it in the usual ways..

So here’s a few lessons learned, generally the hard way.

Drinking and children’s playgrounds

Drunks are often attracted to children’s playgrounds after dark. It seems a real hoot to play on the gear in the middle of the night when you’re completely chooked.


The sequence of events, many moons ago, in Picton:

1. Drink a lot of cheap wine. (mostly Blenheimer, although someone* had the bright idea at one point of mixing vodka with it.
2. Think – woohoo! Trampoline! EXCELLENT!
3. Run out to trampoline, which is quite a way away.
4. Take flying leap onto trampoline, landing double footed in the middle of it.
5. Yell “YEEHAA!!” or something equally profound.
6. Fail to take momentum into account.
7. Notice a slow uneasy feeling in pit of stomach as the rebound hits, going up up up…
8. Notice in particular the nice forgiving trampoline drift slowly back below and – THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT – behind.
9. Look down and realise the Marlborough earth, at the tail end of a long, drought-stricken summer, is a bloody hard thing to land on at speed, drunk or sober.


1. Don’t drink them on an empty stomach.
2. Don’t then think, Ooh, I need some sustenance, and grab the nearest thing available.
3. Especially if the nearest thing is a handful of pineapple lumps.
4. ESPECIALLY don’t do this just before taking part in an impromptu public speaking competition.


I used to get the urge to climb things. This is strange, as I was pretty bad at it, but a lot of people try to do things they are bad at when they are pissed.

On the way from a do at the old Press Club in Auckland, yelling suddenly “Stop the car!!!” the driver (who, some years later, capped off a distinguished career as Editor of the New Zealand Herald)  hits the brakes, everyone thinks I need to chunder.

But no. We’re going past a building site with a large crane and I have decided I can climb the crane. Right Now. I leap out of the car and run towards it. Got up a few rungs before three of the guys from the car hauled me down. (I actually have no memory of doing this, but the friends who pulled me off it do, and they showed me the bruises.)

Lunchtime drinking:

Be very wary of lunchtime drinking if you are going to be drinking in the evening as well.

A rule of thumb – which I found to be accurate – is that, to get an idea on the impact on your system, double every drink you took at lunchtime, and imagine ingesting the lot in one go at 6pm.

That’s roughly what happens if you start drinking again in the evening. I don’t know why.

– for every drink of alcohol, drink a glass of water. Amazingly effective.


Milk thistle. This is a herb which is very good for the liver and which can even moderate the effect of the post-drinking headache. It’s a wonderful discovery. You can get in most chemists and health shops and even the supermarket these days.

Before you go to bed – glass of Berocca. Use it to wash down a couple of milk thistle pills.

For breakfast:

Lambs fry, bacon and fried sput, along with orange or grapefruit juice and coffee.


*Possibly me. Details of the precise chain of causation are, for reasons which should be reasonably obvious, somewhat unclear.