A new arrival and thoughts on alcohol…

NEW year babies are a tradition on the newspaper where I used to work, and other papers too no doubt. These rituals can be dulled with time, trundled out because it’s that day again, duty calling.

But of all the endlessly circling habits employed to fill newspapers, I enjoy this one. Babies suggest hope and possibility, newness and human potential. I seem to recall other matters too, such as interrupted nights and foully filled nappies. But hope is good. We all need hope.

A Facebook alert led me to this year’s first baby in York. The city’s newest arrival is Hanna Cichosz, who was born 17 minutes into the New Year. She arrived just as I was drinking a little too much prosecco than was advisable for the hour (more of which hardly unexpected news in a moment).

Little Hanna is the second child of Monika and Dariusz, who moved to York from northern Poland and have lived in the city for four years. Monika said in The Press that she could hear fireworks going off over York as she gave birth.

It seems cheering that the first York baby of the New Year should be Polish, an indication that this city is less mono-cultural than it was when we moved here more than 27 years ago.

York is not as racially mixed as some parts of the country, but the city has changed slowly over the years, and for the better if you ask this resident. Not everyone will agree, which is perhaps indicated by the comments section below the story on the newspaper’s website, where a number of comments have been deleted. Were those contributions from the usual suspects, with their dull and unimaginative rants, their silly little hatreds and suspicions? Who knows, but it seems likely.

So good luck to Hanna. May you thrive and become a part of the fine city in which you have had the good fortune to be born. May you help to make York the interesting, vibrant and socially inclusive city it needs to be to thrive in the world we all now inhabit.

I failed to shuffle on to my ledge yesterday. The celebratory prosecco left me with a bucket of acid for a stomach. I had a small ulcer a couple of years ago, so should have learned by now, but you know how it is. Sleep came late and we were due out for a walk in the morning, so there wasn’t time to write.

Alcohol is in the news this morning, as it is most days. Newspaper stories about booze follow two basic patterns. Either alcohol is worse for you than previously thought – or that glass of red wine might be doing you some good (until a day or so later when it is sending you to an early grave, although with a smile on your face).

Here are two examples to be found lying about the place today. First up the country’s nagger in chief, sorry chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, says there is no safe limit for drinking. We should all have at least two alcohol-free days a week. The NHS guidance on alcohol is more than 20 years old, and so new suggested limits are to be introduced, apparently. Men should reduce their intake to the limit for women, and the guidelines are to say there is no safe limit and even small amounts of alcohol could cause illnesses including cancer.

And a Happy New Year to you too!

Now as it happens, some of that is advice I always follow, apart from at Christmas (hence the bucket of acid). My preference is for three or four days in a row without a drink, freeing up the weekend for pleasurable consumption of alcohol.

I recognise that too much drinking causes all sorts of health and societal problems, but sensible consumption of alcohol is one of life’s great pleasures.

Having a few days off is sensible – which is more than can be said for the advice from the Local Government Association, which wants calories to be displayed on alcoholic drinks. Oh, come on – is that really going to make any difference? Will knowing that a glass of wine has the same number of calories as a doughnut really put people off? I’d choose the wine over the sugary dough ball every time.

The LGA thinks this warning will help reduce the obesity crisis. Oh really? Isn’t this just another bit of nonsense information that won’t really make a difference? Most people already know that alcoholic drinks contain calories.

My own formula is simple: have more alcohol-free days than boozy days; go for a run sometimes; eat proper food; avoid fizzy drinks. That’s about it really.

And a Happy New Year to young Hanna and to everyone else too.


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