Ian McEwan on Drinking

November 18, 2010

Like many before me, I had come to the slow acknowledgement that the mind-altering substance of choice in a pressured, successful middle life is alcohol. Licit, social, with one’s mild addiction easily concealed among everyone else’s, and in all its infinite, ingenious manifestations, so colourful, so tasty, the drink in your hand triumphs by its very form; its liquidity is at one with the everyday, with milk, tea, coffee, with water, and therefore with life itself. Drinking is natural, whereas inhaling a smouldering vegetable is at some remove from breathing, as is the ingestion of pills from eating, and there is no penetration in nature that resembles that of the needle, except an insect’s sting. A single malt and spring water, a cool glass of Chablis, may improve your outlook by only a modest degree, but will leave unruffled the glassy continuum of your selfhood.

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