OPINION: I love drinking and I'm pretty sure it loves me right back. Over 20 years it's provided me with some tremendous fun, the odd ill-fated short-term romance and a few other disasters I needn't announce to the world. In return I have contributed an immeasurable amount of money to the liquor industry's coffers. I consider alcohol and me about even.
I don't think my introduction to drinking was any different to most other blokes in New Zealand. My first trip to the pub was on a rugby bus trip. I was 16 or 17 at the time and the drinking age was 20. My rugby coach said if anyone asked, I was his father. No-one did and this continued into summer. All my cricket team were men, I was a boy, we were all drinking.
By the time I was 18 I had convinced my mother to buy me six beers if I was going out to a party. This put me in a favourable position compared to many of my friends. Their parents didn't want to supply liquor to minors; my mum thought it was better I got it from her than anyone else. It meant I had to share and I can tell you six beers doesn't go far with four friends.
As I've got older I've drunk more in my 20s and now less in my 30s. I still enjoy a cold beer on a hot day, an after-match drink and the odd big night out. Drinking makes me dance extravagantly and sing karaoke when really I shouldn't. It also gives me a very sore head in the morning and I have learnt children have no sympathy for a dad with a fat head. They still expect the full parenting service.
So I like liquor and I've stayed on its good side. It hasn't cost me my relationship, my job or my driver's licence. I've been lucky and I'm well aware others haven't been so fortunate.
So with this in mind I would hypocritically like to suggest we would be a much better nation if we all ditched the alcohol. I'm not suggesting we all quit, that would be asking the impossible. Let's just ban it instead.
I admit life in New Zealand without booze would be tough. What would police do with all their spare time? They wouldn't have to mop up our streets every Saturday and Sunday morning. They could perhaps turn their attention to burglary, domestic violence and working with our youth.
As a nation we would get our Sundays back. This country's lawns would be better kept as men would have a whole extra day in their weekend for working their back yard or even spending time with their family.
I can hear you saying it will never work. It's a phrase I've heard before when society talked about banning smoking in pubs and alcohol sponsorship of sports teams, and even changing the give-way rule. We seriously underestimate society's ability to change its ways when required.
I know it's a radical step, but you have to ask yourself: Is the damage we are doing to ourselves and our country worth it?
On a Sunday when I've got a slight headache and my daughter wants to use me as a jungle gym, I really doubt it. I just hope when she gets a bit older, candy-flavoured booze in bright little bottles won't be so readily available to her.
Hadyn Jones is a drinker and surprise prohibitionist. He writes a fortnightly column.
- The Dominion Post