Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has obviously been on the sauce. How else can she explain her extraordinary outburst about drinking and the risks to health?
My late father used to say: “Give a man a whistle and he’ll want to blow it.” In the case of Sally Davies, give the woman a title, and she’ll expect to be taken seriously. Not so, I cry, and I am not alone. And on this evidence, do we need a chief medical officer, if this is as good as it gets.
You may have read her report, the first for 25 years, and frankly, it’s not worth the wait, where she opines that men should not drink more than a bottle and a half of wine a week. Yes, you read it right, and it gets worse. She continues, without breaking step or wind, that any drinking is bad for you. Poor Bacchus, never so maligned!
The goodly dame, of pantomime proportions, trots out the discredited ‘units’ calculations, which have been around since the dawn of time and which nobody, not even she, understands, and undaunted, she waffles on about limiting our intake to 14 units a week, not a day, where she would get my vote.
The problem about these perorations is that they are overkill, and risk being ignored. According to a number of experts, her ‘advice’ is described at best as vague, inconsistent, and confusing. Even she admits that her advice may go unheeded, and she is absolutely right, because put in these terms, nobody is going to take her or her advice seriously. Intelligent people will know, without Davies telling them, that abusing alcohol by excessive drinking is dangerous to the health. Stupid people, who can’t follow the advice if they wanted to, and they don’t, couldn’t give a flying f**k.
Dame Sally’s advice has provoked comment from learned quarters that I never knew existed. For example, at the University of Cambridge, there is a professor called Spiegelhalter, which back in the Fatherland means ‘mirror mounts’, strange or what, and he specialises in the public understanding of risk, I kid you not. I suspect he’s related to Doctor Strangelove. Anyway, he states the obvious: “It all seems to come down to what pleasure you get from moderate drinking.” Wise words indeed. And then there’s Matt Field, professor of addiction at the University of Liverpool, who states, with wisdom beyond his years: “It’s important to bear in mind that most activities carry some risk.” I wish I’d thought of that. Finally, Chris Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs, dismissed Sally and her advice as scaremongering and ordered another round.
Everything in moderation. So Sally Davies should go back into her box, and if absolutely necessary, emerge in another 25 years’ time with an update which, once again, we will ignore. In the meantime, I shall continue drinking, and when it’s time to go, I shall go with a smile on my lips and a glass of fine cognac to see me on my way. Bottoms up!