Posted by The Reluctant Emigrant—Denise Hession in Features.


So I’m standing at the counter in the chemist, picking up a few bits and pieces, 600ml of Paediatric Nurofen (Orange Flavour), 800ml Calpol (Original, please), 24 sachets of Dioralyte, Paralink, 36 sachets of teething granules, 6+ Calpol Fastmelts, 24 Uniflu, anything for mosquitos on special offer, 48 pack of Nurofen Plus, 48 Soluble Solpadeine, Piriton tablets and 3 packets of Wartner. The usual bits and pieces one picks up before heading to Doha for 10 months with a family of six. Qatari doctors and chemist have no issue in prescribing medicine galore but the placebo effect alone of our own known brands are essentials in the expat medicine cupboard.

So I’m standing there waiting for my order when I notice it on the display shelf at the pharmacists counter. Tucked in neatly between Durex featherweight (featherlite, rather) and the Clearblue pregnancy tests. Just under the Glucose lollipop and above the Dora the Explorer waterproof plasters, it sat on the shelf, taking up no more space than a couple of inches but punching well above its weight in the social acceptance arena, A hangover preventative. Drinking Tonight, Busy Tomorrow… Get a Lifeline, Hangover Defence.

Now, I’m no prude but surely in an environment that every day on the radio, television, posters, papers and pamphlets we are hearing how thousands of Irish area falling victim to alcoholism, there should be a slightly sterner approach to the over consumption of alcohol and the language surrounding same. When you can order a hangover breakfast in a café or a drink called the cure are we making light of serious underlying problem. All you need is a break away from Ireland for a few years to notice that the approach and general acceptance towards the over consumption of alcohol is what is causing us to become a nation heavily spiked with alcoholics.

I would hasten to add that rather than the glass of wine at wine o’clock being the problem or the vodka when the kids are gone to bed being at issue, it’s the subsequent wine and vodkas and the language surrounding them, ‘one more for the road, may as well finish the bottle, hung for sheep as a lamb, a bird never flew on one wing’, truth is the bird won’t fly at all if she finishes the bottle!

Not only is it quite acceptable to mention that you have a hangover, it is also very acceptable to mention a pre-emptive hangover, ‘I’m going out tomorrow night so I’ll be hungover on Sunday morning, the kids will have to fend for themselves for the morning’ or better again, ‘I was out last night so I’m planning an easy morning at work!’ Not alone are admissions such as these no particularly frowned up they are generally socially acceptable. What if there were one use inhalers available at the desk, Smoking yesterday, emphysema today?… Take a Breather. Or tabs next to the till… Coked yesterday, paranoid today?… Take a Chill Pill. Would we find these as acceptable?

Suffice to say that I enjoy the occasional (by occasional I mean nightly) glass of red myself and would by no means want the party to go dry altogether. The issue around alcoholism is sustained abuse and of course, excess. So rather than hate on the supper’s who tipple without consequence, why not hone in on the swillers and clamp down on all talk of drunkenness and excess being in any way acceptable.

Just then the voice came from behind the counter, ‘excuse me, we are not allowed sell Paracetamol in such quantities, for fear of overdoses etc.’ This would never happen in Qatar you could buy as much Paracetamol as you wanted but Alcohol is by permit only, and limited at that.

So one hour later, when I was filling my Supermarket trolley with a dozen bottles of wine, (gifts, you know) the irony was pitifully plain, not allowed buy 48 Solpadeine but no bother with a bootful of booze. Admittedly I recognise that restriction is different because to try to overdose on 12 bottles of Merlot would be quite a longwinded approach but a bottle a night is quite acceptable and therein lies the problem.

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