MacPhail: The double-edged sword of a good dram!

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Although I’ll not be joining the thousands of those who are going Sober for October, the frequency of wild partying has reduced somewhat for me over the past few years.

Our relationship with alcohol is a strange anomaly of self-damage and self- gratification combined. If the aliens are looking in on us, they will no doubt be wondering why on earth we do such things to ourselves as fill our bodies with poison, do silly things because of it, wake up feeling physically awful and mentally remorseful, having spent a fortune on the exercise, and then do it all again. And again!

It really is ridiculous and I tend to agree with the logic of the friends I have who are non-drinkers. However, logic has yet to be enough to lure me away from the enjoyment I get from having a good dram even if it’s only an occasional one nowadays.

Having operated a nightclub for 10 years, I have certainly seen the worst aspects of what alcohol can amplify in human behaviour, and in my younger days my own behaviour was not always angelic.

There is no doubt that alcohol is bad for our health, bad for society, bad for our bank balance and even worse for the wider economy but, my goodness, it can be good fun when taken in the right circumstances with the right people.

My love of whisky and my at times over-enthusiastic consumption of it has led to some of the most ridiculously bad and wonderfully good situations I’ve found myself in and many of my lasting friendships have been forged over the roaring fire of a good spree.

A good spree was exactly what we enjoyed last Friday and Saturday as the stag weekend of Alasdair Murray was celebrated. Ally, who has worked with us and played in Skipinnish since 2011, is a connoisseur of good whisky and the crack team of accompanying celebrants was the perfect combination to set Ally off on his road to a great Highland wedding in November.

Those present were a good representation of the many varying approaches to alcohol consumption. Some were not drinking much at all, some were going for it with gusto and some went just slightly over the score.

Most importantly, all were having a great time together and none felt any pressure to conform to the consumption rate or expectations of others.

Some great food, good tunes and songs, fine company, meeting new people, seeing new places, an enjoyably bumpy crossing to Ballycastle and Rathlin Island and an over -arching feeling of friendship, celebration and excitement for Ally’s future were all very significant parts of the weekend’s magic. All would have been enjoyed regardless of any drams taken but were better for the addition of a few and that is how a good party should be.

A big thanks to Flora and her team at the Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown for making us feel so welcome, looking after us all and showing truly warm hospitality to us all.