Governments are used to piling on the grief while the populace is already feeling a bit vulnerable, and post-Christmas/New Year is an ideal opportunity. Everybody is broke, feeling fat, and nursing the remains of a hangover of 14 days duration, so a clever nanny state will kick you while you’re down.

The Chief Medical Officer in the UK, Dame Professor Sally Davies, started the new year with a bang. She has suggested that there is no safe limit to alcohol consumption, and recommends men and women consume no more than 14 units a week, with at least two days a week off the sauce.

This ranks in stupidity with the notion of having wine labels carry photographs of the effects of alcohol, a subject I’ve brutalised previously.

This is all yet another bit of scaremongering. Put the words risk, hazard, danger into anything and you can spin it pretty much as you like. Stick in the word cancer, and you’ll have people on the ropes pretty sharpish. Look at the pile of bullshit there was a couple of months ago about a bacon sandwich being as carcinogenic as a smoking habit. That was palpably untrue but the press bought the story, even though that wasn’t what the researchers said at all. They merely said that there were chemicals  in cooked preserved meat that should be added to the list of known carcinogens. At no point did they suggest having a bacon sarnie was as risky as playing with brown asbestos in a confined space.

The alcohol guidelines fail to be persuasive, not least because they don’t quantify the risks. There’s a lot of the term ‘increased risk,’ but no ‘50% more likely’ or any other scarey statistics. Because of this lack of quantification, the number of units looks suspiciously arbitrary because of the scarcity of epidemiological backup.

Then there’s the issue that people who like a drink, and I freely admit to being one, like a drink. The end. We don’t like and don’t want to be whacked around the head by some do-gooder trying to send us on a guilt trip. Smoking is definitely bad for you, but smokers don’t want to give up because they like it. I gave up because much as I liked a fag, I disliked the coughing rather more.

Let’s also not forget that the CMO is a representative of Her Majesty’s Government, and that operates from premises where the bars are open all the time the House is sitting, and subsidised at the expense of the taxpayers of the realm. They need to put their own house in order, as it were, before beating up the population.

A few of us were discussing the guidelines yesterday in the pub, where we had all gone on principle to cock a snook at this new bit of nannying, in the same way I shot off to the caff for a sausage and bacon sarnie the day the papers warned us that such fare was carcinogenic. All of us were a bit fatalistic. You can live on organic quinoa and water all you like, but you’re going to die of something eventually.

Somebody was once telling me what foods they were giving up because ‘They’re not good for you.’ I asked, ‘So what do you want to die of?’ Same with liking a beer or two. We all know it’s not terribly good for us, but when some busybody tries to micromanage our lives, we dig in our heels. Getting flooded out of your home four times in two months isn’t good for you either, but the government is keeping very shtum indeed about what they intend to do about that.

The Toffs are also very keen on the idea of choice, particularly informed choices. Hence some earlier buffoonery from them about the demon drink.