I loved going anywhere there was people and alcohol.
I remember my first drink, which also turned out to be my first hangover.
Mum thought it would be funny (well I'm assuming that is what she thought) if she gave me a bottle of red wine (that she would never have drunk), to take with me to the Church Youth Group's end of year function so I could "spike the punch"!
Yes, you can all draw breath after exhaling in complete shock ... you may want to draw another breath now though so you don't pass out when I tell you, I was 14 years old at the time.
A friend and I headed off with said bottle concealed in her big purple parker and we were trying to find the opportunity to pour the bottle in the punch, but were too afraid we would get caught ... so we did what any 14 year olds would do, we destroyed the evidence!
Half each, problem solved.
Mum was in disbelief when the Youth Pastor delivered me home explaining to Mum that he thought we were drunk and apologetically telling her he had no idea where we had got the wine from and how sorry he was etc. As any responsible adult would do when they were in charge of our well being at the time we became COMPLETELY PISSED.
Oh how I felt so sorry for that man later in my life as I realised. SHE. NEVER. TOLD. HIM. THE. TRUTH!
Of course, I suppose she was embarrassed. But what did she think two 14 year olds would do with it? And did she really expect us to spike the punch at a Church gathering?
That one incident, was the beginning of a very long and drawn out list of events that were considered to have been all my fault, including the "Year 10 School Dance incident", and so, when I had left school and Mum and Dad had no real say in where I went or who I went with, I drank.
I don't know why. That first hangover should have been enough to put anyone off drinking for the rest of their life. I recall feeling like I was going to fall out of bed, not to mention the pending vomiting, and so I slept on the floor. At least the room stopped spinning enough for me to get to sleep.
Later, I drank so often I got to the point where I could pretty much out drink most people, but of course it started to cost more money too. That was about the time I switched from Scotch and Dry to wine. Cheap crappy Moselle, I moved onto Riesling and Eventually Chardonnay. But who really cared, least cost most effective, that was all that really mattered.
It was probably also about the time that I started to spend more time with an old school friend of mine. I would go to her house for dinner or to celebrate events with her and her family, and as we were over 18 by this time, we would have a glass or two of red wine with dinner.
Mr S was a bit of a connoisseur and enjoyed introducing us to different wines and talking to us about how different wines complemented different foods. Mrs S always had the different foods covered. Mr S also introduced us to Port. Not in the same way I had been introduced to wine initially, no, he taught us to savour it, to smell it, to taste it, to feel it, he taught us to appreciate and respect it.
I learnt to truly enjoy the real value of the combination of alcohol and people. We would talk and listen to music and sit around with their extended family also at times and we would just be.
I was always made to count my drinks or stay the night. Another good lesson.
So tonight as I sat and enjoyed a couple of glasses of red (which I rarely do these days) in the comfort of my own home, I raised my glass to Mr and Mrs S and the lessons they taught me.