...which was, unbelievably, the name of a semi-successful pop group. I'm sniffing, coughing and weeping with the tears of a flu-ridden invalid, and yet it's on with the show today at two. No weakness must be shown.
Anyway, here's another Nippy Sweetie from the current Shetland Times. It was partly provoked by comments passed at the press conference before Up Helly Aa. The thuggish xenophobia which lurks beneath the surface of "Europe's greatest fire festival" reared its all-too-ugly head. "No soothmoothers" indeed! What with the "no women" rule that already stands, it's no wonder that militant anti-Up Helly Aa forces are beginning to muster. Watch, if you will, this space.
The Nippy Sweetie
Alcohol, my alcohol, how I love you! What a wondrous boon to humanity you are! What benefits you have brought to us, what insights, what boosts to the spirit of common decency! How could I possibly live without you, oh great companion of my rosy hours, inspirer of higher thought, douser of evil mental inflammations!
I must control myself. But I get enthusiastic about alcohol’s amazing, nay magical powers. Take intelligence. Alcohol increases it, makes people brighter, more capable of deep thought, and heavens, a great deal more articulate. How else do you explain the tremendous advances in human knowledge that have emerged from repositories of intellectual attainment like Captain Flint’s and the Thule? The deep meditations on the workings of soul politics and salsa sauce: none could possibly occur without the application of libations. We drink, therefore we think. What bliss. And even better, memory is increased by alcohol too, so we remember every tiny nuance of the argument, every jot and tittle of brain cell activity, in the bright dawn of the next day.
Because that’s another thing about drink: It actually makes you feel better in the mornings, the more you’ve consumed the previous night. Try it and you will experience a blissful clarity when you awake, joyous with expectation of what the new day can bring. Also, it provides mental and physical energy, sustaining you through even the most testing tasks. Wondrous!
Even better, alcohol increases physical and mental co-ordination, enabling the regular user to operate complex machinery in imaginative and expressive ways, and to achieve new levels in roadcraft, in car, truck or lorry. More and more aeroplane pilots too testify to the fantastic increase in their aviation skills after partaking of a Carlsberg Special or three. And for that, many of us who remain mere passengers, can be eternally grateful.
Whisky or beer, vodka or rum, what a difference they make to all personal relationships, bringing peace where violence once reigned, love instead of indifference, sensitivity rather than the boorish bullying of the typically sober. How many marriages have been saved by drink? Too many to count. After all, sex is vastly improved by alcohol, both in the expectation and the performance.
Children relish the behaviour of inebriated parents. The caring skills of mother and father are multiplied by the excessive use of Aftershock and alcopop, and how satisfying it is to see young children learning at their parents’ knees how to consume ethanol cocktails in an excessive and liberating manner! And of course, drinking makes you wealthy, too. Sometimes overnight.
Those of us who live in the Zetlandic Archipelago must also take great comfort in the way that the availability of industrial drink has benefited that fine Lerwick festival of Up Helly A’, bringing new levels of responsible social behaviour, concern for the image of the isles, literacy and a truly heartening negation of past xenophobic tendencies. How much more the historical Vikings might have achieved had they possessed the appetite for strong spirits and the extraordinary physical condition and glittering criminal record of this year’s Jarl Squad! But alas, history cannot be rewritten. Other than by the Up Helly A’ committee, obviously, which is the law.
Alas, many of the journalists and broadcasters brought to the isles this week by our fine tourism officers at vast expense were sorrowful excuses for that once fine breed of men and women. They did not drink, or did so minimally, and were thus left befuddled and bewildered by the high flown eloquence and brilliant strategies of the Up Helly A’ denizens. Despite the honour of being dubbed ‘soothmoothers’ and banned from the burning site by men – real men, men of such titanic standing, journalists are unfit to even lick their ritually unwiped arses, though indeed some tried – the sober hacks were pathetically upset. They moaned, they writhed, they threatened to withdraw funding and even invoke the race relations act. Fools! Do they not recognise the level of alcohol-enhanced brilliance they are dealing with? Get thee hence, southern hacks and hackettes, consumers of mineral water and cappuccino! Do not darken our isles again, and take your tourist moolah with you! We do not need such mediocre money while we have the prospect of an invisible distillery, and such a profitable aquaculture sector!
Meanwhile, to the bar, my friends, and let us become better people the only way we know how: by getting absolutely pished, falling over and being sick. It is a calling; it is a religious, a humanist, a consciousness-raising experience. It is what we live for. Oh alcohol, how much we owe you. How can we ever repay you for what you’ve done?