In defence of getting pissed with Granny

Baroness Hayter, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, has advised the public against buying bottles of alcohol for older relatives this Christmas.

Apparently, drinking is on the rise among people aged over-55, and on the decline in younger generations who, Hayter claims, ‘have followed advice and favour the gym or sports field over the pub’. She added that we should give older relatives our time over the festive period, rather than a drink: ‘If loneliness or lack of company is the most important thing, then give them your company, don’t give them booze.’

She’s not the only one fearmongering about our elders’ drinking habits. Calling Time, a recent report published by the Drink Wise, Age Well programme, has also claimed that the over-55s are now the demographic group most likely to exceed the recommended amount of alcohol consumption. Tut tut. Those naughty, non-conformist Baby Boomers. Who would have thought Absolutely Fabulous would prove to be so prophetic?

It is deeply patronising to tell people not to buy booze for their grandparents at Christmas. Few people are stupid enough to purchase liquor for a relative who has a real problem with drink. We don’t need to be told not to do that. And the idea that people are buying booze for relatives instead of spending time with them is ridiculous. Christmas is a time for doing both. It’s the one time of the year we have to relax, indulge in life’s Epicurean pleasures and get a bit sloshed with our families.

In truth, this just seems to be another attack on drinkers, with the elderly as an easy target. If those who are health conscious don’t want to drink, fine. But they don’t need to make that decision on behalf of others. These health campaigns are creating the impression that drinking a bit more than the average is some kind of major issue that needs to be managed, so much so that younger generations should police the actions of their elders. It all goes to show how little public-health obsessives trust individuals, and how joyless they can be – even at this time of year.

Candice Holdsworth is the founder and editor of Imagine Athena.

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