Here’s something that’s been worrying me lately: how on Earth do teetotal people ever get off with anyone? To illustrate this, in the pub last night I saw two couples.* One was sharing a bottle of wine – her face was lively, nay a little flushed, her eyes sparkling, his body language relaxed, the conversation was animated, love was very much in the air. On the other side we had a couple drinking coca-cola (not mixed, because the glasses were too big and there was lemon involved). Their expressions were doleful and their postures did not suggest individuals at ease with themselves. Now, of course I do not know the details of either pair but it brought home to me how impossible it must be to find even the most fumbling and desperate human contact without a bit of Dutch courage. Every single relationship I know the circumstances of started after at least some alcohol had been consumed: this may say more for the sots I hang around with than for the grisly state of romance in the (inaptly named) noughties, but it’s a powerful statistic nevertheless. Not to mention that in many countries the pubs close just in time for somebody to have missed their last train or bus, nudge nudge, say no more. Alcohol: good for the death rate, good for the birth rate.

*We won’t go into the pub last Friday night with the swingers. Or rather we will, but not now.