Before I begin, I want you all to know that I tried. I really tried. For months I have been trying to think up a better title for this as it's crucial to my point. However my grey matter has failed me; "alcoholic socialising" it is.
Thanks to a variety of campaigns we all know the dangers of social drinking. It's a dangerous trap that can lead people towards alcoholism without them realising they're walking that path. However, I feel that there's another problem lurking in the drinking culture. It's not as serious, but it is far more insidious and underhand. I have termed it "alcoholic socialising".
As any Daily Mail reader will tell you, there's a large drinking culture in this country. We Brits love to drink. There's pubs everywhere, and every town and city centre in the land is filled with inebriated souls stumbling around on a Friday and Saturday night, pissing on kebab vans. The humble pub acts as both the start and end of an evening - a meeting place and a post-event social space.
That's all well and good, but it's the start of a slippery slope. You might think it's just a social thing, and you can give it up any time. You like doing other things, and only visit pubs with friends, right? Here's the acid test: name one social thing you've done in the past two weeks that didn't involve alcohol.
It's quite tough, isn't it? That stuff gets everywhere. You might have gone out for a meal, but there would be wine and beer there too. You might have gone to the theatre, but there's an interval. And even though there's only 15 minutes to drink everyone rushes to the bar and insists on paying through the nose for a flimsy plastic cup full of beer or wine. Before you know it your entire social existence is going out to the pub with a few mates. There's not a lot to do in Camberley, and to be honest it's the kind of place that's likely to drive you onto the sauce. We've got hundreds of pubs though - not that it stops people queuing to get into the Wetherspoons on a Friday night. We Brits like to drink but we don't like to pay a lot for it.
Everything seems fine with this at first. All your friends are doing it, why shouldn't you? Well, it can be a teensy bit exclusionary. Your non-drinking friends - well, friend - probably come out less and less. There's only so many times you can watch your peers drink themselves into a stupor while you sit around nursing a lemonade and smoking passively.
So what's to be done? The first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem. After that it's easy. We have no 10-step plans here, nor do you have to give up those evenings of vomiting and kebabs that you love so much. Just call up your teetotal chums every now and again and suggest doing something with no alcohol and no pubs involved. There's more out there than you think, and they'll be able to cling on to the memory the next time they're forced to play "I have never" with a pint of water.