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  • Jack Martindale

Life in a Bottle

Updated: Nov 24, 2018

Last week, the Friday of my 30th (I inadvertently typed 18th on my first attempt, whatever that says), I had to go on an obligatory Residential Weekend With my Level 4 Diploma in Integrative Counselling at Holborn’s City Lit College.

It is what it is I reluctantly thought and it was what it was. Not that I want to reflect on this intimate (without the “oh matron!”) bonding experience here, it does bring me to how this blog was formed.

As an introductory activity, we had to create a “self-puzzle” of our choice to present in front of the entire group. This is a sort of nemesis activity for me to perform. I just find it so trite and can’t help but feel that there is something rather inane – not to mention patronising – about being asked to define yourself in the shape of a 10 minute presentation!

To keep it as humorous, identifiable and as detached a portrayal of my core as possible, I chose to put my existence into an allegory, in terms of the alcoholic drinks that I have enjoyed at selected points of my life and here goes:.



Sherry and Baileys (Lambrini for other Nan)

When I was little, my nan used to look after me for several days a week whilst my mum went to work in the house where she spent the majority of her childhood (Hewitt Road on the Harringay Ladder of you know) and she certainly spoilt me rotten in a child centred way and even relented went down the alleys in my buggy so that I could look at all of the dog poo. (Apparently this childhood fascination is not overly uncommon…)

Anyway, my late Nan used to hold her “coffee mornings” for Phyllis, Flo (God rest their souls, in an atheist’s way) and whatever other old cronies were about… I loved being the centre of everything and I suppose that you could say that the last stage of my weaning was on sherry or baileys (more on the Irish side of my family later).

Of course it was only a thimble-full equivalent and my Nan would be appalled to think that she in any way ever encouraged me to drink.

I think that what it cements to me is the fact that I always relished the company of adults from an early age and always felt that I needed to be involved and provide my two-penith into conversation.

Ultimately, I needed to be incorporated in all conversation and have always craved attention if I’m honest and being dependent on being able to make my voice heard and have my little unrounded opinion voiced in conversations.

Also, it can probably be traced to my general love of smut (my other Nan (Nana) loved nothing more than a Carry On Film) and general penchant for soap operas and the like. The other Sunday, I spent the entire day watching the 1995 BBC series of Pride and Prejudice back to back with my Mum and loved it.

A highlight of many summer family get-togethers, was the bottle of Lambrini or Asti, that my Nana would present to us out of her person in a similar way that you may have expected a teenage boy to have carried a blue movie.





Guinness


This is not only tasty and beneficial to up your iron (like marmite, I’ve heard that they used to provide it in a ‘baby bag’ for the mothers of new-borns?) intake, but it also relates to me being half Irish.

My mum was born on a farm in County Meath before moving to north London aged 4. They were actually Protestants, as my granddad (who died before I was born) was born in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. Good Irish family, but mum’s only 1 of 6, whereas my granddad was one of 11!

Still, I’ve always loved having a big and supportive extended family and welcome my grandad’s foresight in selling their farm in 1961 (still had a well when they moved in!), so that they could move back to my Nan’s home of London and all of the family could stay together. This succeeded as all siblings still live within an hour’s distance of each other. Otherwise they’d inevitably be dotted all around the world searching prospects.

On the other side, my grandam then faced extreme discrimination in finding a job for being Irish and this legacy to me only emphasises the importance of their not being bias.

Gin and Tonic


It was before it became fashionable (old enough!) when I first started to indulge in this little number. This probably resonates in the fact that I always enjoyed having any feeling of exclusivity.

I also strangely loved the romance of its old gin lane sand Mother’s Ruin associations. This illustrates my deep rooted penchant for nostalgia. Recently I’ve come to associate this as demonstrating liking for control over things. You are free to interpret and formulate your understanding of the past – whenever you revisit a memory, you are rewriting it to fit in with the picture than you desire and make sense with your own understanding.



Wine

For as long as I can remember – although he doesn’t drink so frequently now that he is retired – my Dad would have a bottle of wine every evening.

This was so normalised in my eyes. He was never at all violent or physically aggressive, the effects of alcohol are impossible to understand if you do not yet drink yourself. As my dad never really drank with dinner or much before my bed time as a child, my job from the age of about 4 or 5, was to take the first sip of his drink “to see if it was good enough for him”.

Whatever you may think of this, I still see it as a pretty healthy attitude. Drink was never seen as sordid or the solution to any of my problems and I have been lucky in so far as being able to enjoy drink without seeing it as anything taboo.



Lager and Ale

Definitely a bit more of a wino really, but I certainly do love a beer too at times.

Lager was the first thing that I would drink down the pub. Now I’ve grown into ale. Except in the summer when I regularly go for the ‘60s/70s throwback of lager and lime!

With this I can rant about my hatred of our ID culture and how I resent the power trip that it can appear to provide people with. A more holistic attitude in my eyes for the safety of all, would be to just use discretion of an establishment i.e. if you’re behaving appropriately. It’s surely for all surely to obtain a final part of your socialisation in a pub or bar, than on street corners of in parks drinking vodka or something and often seems lead to needing people’s stomach pumped…


Espresso Martini

You can probably imagine than pretentiousness and I often end up in bed together and this cheeky cocktail is representative of this fact. Suave sophistication vs falling over.

Tequila and Jagerbomb

These drinks represent the side to me that never wants the party to be over and also at times relishes the feeling of completely having let go. For a person that frets and worries aplenty, this can represent something of a big ask!

They are at times the source of a much needed second wind. The danger I suppose that whilst they may appear to boost my cognitive ability, the reverse is most probably occurring at a greater abundance. This could go on for a lifetime if I'm going to recount all of the tipples that I've enjoyed, but I hope that you've found this reflection at least vaguely interesting and perhaps even able to be related to at certain points...

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