Sober thoughts on the Mail’s 42 pages about that engagement…

SOBRIETY is the new drunk, apparently. I’ll address that in a moment after issuing a heartfelt an apology. My efforts yesterday to write about two people getting engaged were  woefully inadequate. A measly 550 words against the Daily Mail’s 42 pages.

Yes, you read that right: 42 pages just because Prince Harry and his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, are going to get married sometime next year. The date has been announced and the venue, but I lack the energy to look them up: sometime in May in the Windsor Castle register office, something like that.

Thanks to the New Statesman’s Media Mole column for alerting me to that superfluity of pages. The mole’s coverage begins as follows: “There are 42 pages in a daily newspaper about two humans getting engaged. Two human beings deciding they like one another enough to both write their names on the same piece of paper. 42 pages about this. Forty. Two.”

When I complained about the BBC News rolling out lickspittle sticky-backed velvet by the yard, I wasn’t yet aware of the Mail’s even more sterling efforts at saying a lot about little.

That, by the way, is often the role of royal correspondents: speculating, bluffing and fluffing about bugger all, while also drinking deeply at the fountain of obsequiousness.

Anyway, 42 pages. That’s at least 41 more than I  wish to read. As Media Mole points out, backed up by a YouTube film flicking through all those pages, the Mail’s coverage is daft, weird and more than vaguely creepy, as it features family snaps of the teenage Markle and pictures from her Instagram account.

Oh, and some “very tame screenshots of a mildly saucy Suits scene – or, “TV ROLES SHE’D RATHER FORGET… AND THE ONES HE’D RATHER FORGET.”

I hope you will accept my apology for not being inventive or weird enough to come up with such a pile of “Stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.”

That, by the way, is the dictionary definition of ‘bullshit’, should you be wondering. Incidentally, with the Mail in mind, at what point does fawning become stalking?

On now to not being drunk. It’s the latest thing, according to a report in last Sunday’s Observer, which claimed that millennials are discovering the joys of “mindful drinking” as the party season begins.

Everything is mindful nowadays, and I would warn you to be, ahem, mindful about anything which is being sold to you under that banner.

“Mindful drinking” is basically just not drinking; abstinence reinvented; temperance for trendies – that sort of thing. It’s all the rage in London, according to the Observer, where alcohol-free party nights are the latest thing. One of those quoted in the report is journalist Hannah Betts, who says she has been sober since September 2014. Hannah uses a phrase I have never encountered before – “sober-curious”, which embraces people who want to know more about sobriety. She also admits to a degree of what you might call sober scepticism about the ‘bandwagon element’ in all the books being published about people giving up drink.

My message on this is simple: cutting down alcohol, being careful around alcohol, perhaps not having that extra glass of red (that’s a note to self, by the way); all of that is sensible, in the same way that eating less meat is sensible.

But I do hope that (sensible) drinking is here to stay. My claim to sobriety isn’t as strong as Hannah’s. Will ‘since last Saturday’ do?

I do realise that alcohol can be a serious problem in society; it can also be one of life’s great pleasures. Finding a balance is  the trick for many of us: more alcohol-free days than drinking days, in my case.

Chacun a son gout, as the not always entirely sober French say.

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