Notes from West London

That two pint feeling

Here’s a question for you, if you’re the kind of person who still drinks beer or cider: how many pints is enough? The answer for me, as with so many questions, is “it all depends”.

About 15 years ago I would occasionally have a few drinks with an old work colleague, someone I had worked with in the late 1990s. He had been severely asthmatic in his childhood and, unlike me and most of my friends, he had spent very little time in pubs in his teens and 20s. He couldn’t sit in smoke-filled rooms. Pubs were bad enough for non-smokers like me, but for someone with asthma they were no-go areas.

Now, in his 40s, three things had contributed towards making pubs more accessible for him: the smoking ban; his asthma was less severe; and he had taken a liking to our local brew, Fullers London Pride. We did the Fullers Brewery tour together and visited a few local pubs over the course of a year or two. He wasn’t a big drinker. Maybe he had as many as three pints on one of our jaunts, but usually it was just a couple. I worked out something that I had probably known, deep down, for a long time. Often, when you go out for a drink, all you really want is that “two pint feeling”, the buzz you get when you’re slightly over the drink-drive limit but no more than that. That buzz is rarely improved by having another couple of pints, or a couple more after that. Different feelings kick in, not always for the best.

As I have noted before on these pages, much of my teenage drinking took place in bars with live music, long-gone venues like the Red Cow in Hammersmith and The Nashville Rooms in West Kensington. There are still pubs in those locations but they have not hosted regular live music for decades. There were also afternoon drinking sessions with my father, in local pubs that didn’t even have recorded music let alone live acts. These sessions were limited by the opening hours of the time: pubs closed at 3pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays. It was usually six pints on a Saturday or four pints on a Sunday.

At various times my father mentioned a concept that he had heard about, equating the number of pints with how you felt, each stage described by an adjective ending in “-ose”. It started with verbose and jocose and ended with comatose. We never quite knew the order (or the number) of the adjectives in between and repeatedly attempted to work them out. Morose, bellicose, lachrymose were probably in there. We thought that there might be a seventh but never knew what it was. Adipose, dextrose, fructose, it couldn’t be any of them.

A quick web search has revealed that our original set of adjectives is out there and easily found. One search research suggests five of them, in a slightly different order, and excluding morose: jocose, verbose, bellicose, lachrymose, comatose. It also offers grandiose as a seventh option. I’m surprised we never thought of that one. Whichever way you look at it, whether you end up feeling jocose or verbose, most of the time that “two pint feeling” is good enough.


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