Being offered a beer while getting your hair cut shouldn't be the norm
AFTER my law exams on Friday, I was asked what I was going to do next. I replied that I was going to the gym.
I don't expect a medal for so doing, and mention it only in relation to the bewilderment with which people greeted the news, unable to understand why I wouldn't be working off my stress in a pub.
Part of the reason, without wishing to be in any way pious, is that it's a tad hypocritical to be commenting on how tragic it is to have your life consumed by alcohol - the pictures of the latest round in Jonathon Rhys Meyer's tragically one-sided battle with the booze is a sad testament to how it can end up - and on the other hand start downing pints at the merest of opportunities.
It's a point well made by clinical psychologist Dr Fiona Weldon last week, who remarked: "The message appears to be that wine or alcohol is the only way to relax or de-stress."
She was responding to figures which show that alcohol consumption is on the way back up again. Ireland consumed 1.3 million litres of spirits during the first quarter of this year, up 16.5pc on last year, meaning that the average Irish drinker consumes, quite literally, a staggering 411 pints, or 124 bottles of wine, in a year.
While it seems to be equated to a rise in the economy, with more disposable income to spend on booze, Dr Weldon also astutely commented that the Government's current "solution" to the problem - tackling the sale of cheap alcohol - is inadequate.
"What we also need to look at is how much drinking has become normalised in Irish society," she said, "to the extent where people are now being offered alcoholic drinks while getting a hair cut."
Ireland needs to have a serious conversation about our relationship with alcohol, and no, let's not do it over a drink.