Well, there goes that joke about the slow wildebeests (the bewilderbeasts?) being thinned out by the marauding hyenas, thus sharpening up the survivors’ gene pool.
Scientists once believed that the number of nerve cells you have in your brain, once you reach adulthood, was all you’d ever have. Thus, damaging these cells could be extremely detrimental to the individual. However, this isn’t correct.
Ha! New neurons are created all the time in the adult brain, in a process that is called neurogenesis, or more technically, imbibing wisdom. I knew it!
Yay! Neurogenesis! I just made a few new brain cells to host this new info. The picture above is a snapshot of me while that process was happening. Voila!
The alcohol you people drink is called ethanol. C2H5OH. This is a molecule that, in highly technical chemistry terms, looks like a hound dog with its leg cocked. Two carbon atoms (black) are stuck together to support an oxygen head (red). Six hydrogen atoms (white) spread out over the molecule to give each of the carbon atoms two feet, the oxygen atom a nose, and the rear carbon atom a tail. Ethanol is small, mobile, water and lipid soluble, so like a dog it can get into all sorts of places that maybe it shouldn’t. Like a dog it can also (sort of) head butt you in the crotch while sniffing to find out, or let others know, where you’ve been.
And where do you people want your ethanol? Why, in your brains, of course. That’s the point, innit? You might bulldust that you drink for your nose, or your palate, or your stomach or your blood. Rubbish. You drink to get that stuff in your brain. Once in the brain, alcohol acts on the nucleus accumbens. This area is a midpoint between the reward centre of a brain and the parts that make associations and memories. Ah, those memories, right? The good ones that you remember. And then there are those that your “friends” always insist on reminding you about!
Now everyone knows that too much alcohol at once can kill you, but how? It depresses nerve function, makes you sleep and suppresses the gag reflex, so people who are passed out can choke on their own vomit, like rock stars. So if you’re a wannabe rock star but can’t sing, can’t play, can’t grow your hair – there’s always that. The brain also controls things like breathing and heart rate, and enough alcohol can shut down those parts of the brain too. People pass out and their brains simply forget to breathe.
BUT: Alcohol also has its good side, don’t forget! Scientifically, its a solution, and according to Homer Simpson, the solution to all life problems.
It causes a bunch of dopamine to be released, hot-wiring your brain-ular system. It makes you feel confident and talkative, because it depresses some Shut Up! brain functions and deadens the Be Discreet centre. It also makes you feel good, dunnit? And invincible, right? Erudite, and a very good dancer and singer. Remember Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl?
So alcohol is brilliant and worth investing in. Also, depending on what research you choose to believe, a glass of wine per day can either not do any harm, prevent heart attacks, or make you functionally immortal. I believe the latter. Does that make me a Latter Day Saint? Long after you finally die, they’ll have to beat your liver to death with a stick. Or transplant it into some lucky recipient who can wake up in the operating theatre pre-pickled.
It’s kind of nice to know that – sometimes – relaxation, cheer, wittiness and immortality can literally be bottled. All that’s needed is to take care just how much alcohol you let into your brain at any one time.
– – Paraphrased from a lovely article by Esther Inglis-Arkell. It’s worth a visit! It showcases Doug Adams’ cocktail, the ‘Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster’ from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and shows you how to set fire to grog in spectacular fashion. Marvelous stuff!
Durban ca 1980 – I’ve been sent here by the army; I know very little about this Last Outpost of the British Empire, but my friend Steve Reed has been here a year so he knows everything. And he knows some girls.
Some comet was due to approach Earth and (we extrapolated) threaten our way of life, our partying, our poison of choice (alcohol) and perhaps even kill us.
We determined to protect ourselves and our beloved planet from this unwelcome alien intruder. Steve hired a beach cottage at Blythedale Beach on the Natal north coast and we repaired there with a bunch of female friends and adequate stocks of various powerful potions and elixirs to be taken internally. We also bought tinfoil.
In the self-catering kitchen we found plenty with which to arm and armour ourselves: Spatulas, colanders, pots and pans made good headgear. Braai forks, braai tongs and wooden spoons made anti-galactic weapons. We warmed up our IQ’s by imbibing aplenty and so started a rip-roaring Defend the Planet Party which ended successfully in the wee hours on the beach.
Was it perhaps Comet Aarseth-Brewington? Well, we made it saweth its arseth by our brewing and distilling.
Actually, it was more likely Comet Tuttle. There it is. It came back in 2007 but it knew better than to approach too close:
Only after recovering from my hangover did I realise another of the planned missions had once again been a complete failure: Snaring any girls. As so often, the booze had won.
Ah, well! Hail to thee blithe spirit!
Pic by Robogun - http://www.vcastro.com/contact.htm, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3308145
April 1986: Disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine.
September 1986: Disaster in the Gillmer’s old kombi near Cradock en route to the Fish.
The trouble started with Black Label beer and Ship Sherry. I had wanted to buy a bottle of Old Brown, but I had fallen amongst thieves and my chairman was in the bottle store with me. “No man Swanie”, said Allie Peter, “Buy Ship Sherry. Then you can get TWO bottles”. Who was I to argue? He was a Kingfisher heavy, he was a Eesin Kayp local and I was blissfully unaware that this decision would not turn out to be in my medium-term best interests.
The night at Gattie’s place was a lot of fun and I clearly remember that clever feeling as I decanted more Ship Sherry into my bottle of Black Label. There was an aura of invincibility at one stage, but eventually – as happened too often in my youth – I looked around mid-sentence and found I was lonely. There was no-one else still vertical. I had no more friends. I dutifully (why does one DO this!?) downed the last of my blend and found a floor to lie down on.
Very soon after this I heard a loud noise. It sounded like someone was slitting the throat of Gattie’s prize bull. I knew vaguely that it was actually me and the loudness was due to the porcelain bowl echoing my distress. Gattie came to check, but seeing that it wasn’t one of his bulls protesting lustily, went back to bed.
Very soon after this it was morning. I was fine, but on the way to the race in the light blue Gillmer bus there was a low rumbling and some inner turmoil and I considerately thought to warn the inhabitants of the kombi of the pending gaseous pollutant. “Open the windows! There’s been a Chernobyl-like disaster” I shouted. They looked at me uncomprehendingly for half a second. And then the green cloud hit their nostrils, and they understood.
The hardest part of the Fish River canoe marathon – by far – was keeping my upchuck behind my tonsils on the dam we were cruelly forced to navigate before we were allowed to start the real paddling. Once on the river all was hunky dory and I ambled downstream in my white Sabre at my usual blistering pace (equal to the current) with frequent stops to stretch my legs or tie my shoelaces.
That night I ignored Allie’s advice and stuck to plain Black Label. Much safer.
Just returned from a gathering in Harrismith where my sole function was to bring the average age of the attendants down to a respectable level.
Pierre’s joint 60th along with Jill Venning and Mark Raz Russel. Pierre builds, Jill farms, Mark runs Finlay’s general trading store – and the golf club – in Harrismith. At their age a “joint” gathering also describes one of the main topics of discussion among the creaking decrepit.
60’s themed, most of the inmates came predictably dressed as hippies. I went as a hippie who admired Elvis’ dress style post-cheeseburgers. I was Sure to Wear some Flowers in my Wig. Some wore safari suits with a comb in vey sock. One wore an old English-type boys school uniform: blazer, cap, short pants and polished shoes. Most wore wigs – and most needed them. Oh, and John Venning very predictably – but later than usual – got round to dropping his trousers.
Actually the evening was saved visually and average age-wise by a flock of kids and their friends, so I could relax and act second-childhood. There were two of Pierre’s blondes there, Michele & Natasha, Mark’s son & daughter and Jill’s two as well, Kirsty was one. They were also dressed as hippies, and they were looking like the pictures from back then and how we all imagined we looked. Luckily there were no mirrors at the venue that I saw. Some aesthetically-delightful sixties-style minis and boots on show.
An excellent one-man band played all the right stuff, so it was a good thing it was loud or it would have been ruined by everyone singing along. Myself I would have had half-hour gaps with no music so we could hear each others’ lies, but no, when the band-man was resting someone cranked on some good ole vinyl LP or other. Probably the bloody youngsters (we must start practicing to grumble).
Pierre gave a speech! Well, he joined Jill & Raz in a well-rehearsed threesome form of poetry rending in which they painted themselves in a good light and we listened politely.
Sheila rounded up a flock of ancient Methodists for a group shot, so three Swanepoels, three du Plessis, three Woods, and Tuffy Joubert posed for the Methylated Spirits Revival. Lulu tried to join in but we wouldn’t have it, her being blerrie NG Kerk an’ all. She protested that she had come to guild once, to no avail.
Funniest thing was the youngsters drilling us for tales of yore. We told them tales of what their Moms and Dads got up to when they were their age to gasps of outrage when they thought of how their folks had raised them all strictly and with rules and curfews. I had to tell Lettuce Leaf’s kids the old one about how all the trouble started in the Garden of Eden when Adam said to Eve “Ek het your leaf”.
I went home soon after 2.30am leaving quite a few senior citizens and even more young uns still dancing. A few were slurring so that I couldn’t get what the hell they were saying but they seemed happy with my nods and smiles and ‘Quite right!‘s and ‘Serious?‘s. Of course some of those were nearer 70 than 60 which makes the ‘hoesê?‘s quite frequent!
We stayed at Heritage House, Pierre & Erika’s beautifully restored old house-next-door which they run as a bed & breakfast, so post-party we gathered in the kitchen till after 3am. Later we gathered for a big breakfast at the Table of Knowledge in Heike’s restaurant on the slopes of 42-second Hill just below the quarry where Jock Grant would blast his dynamite, rattling the dorp’s windows.
Some of the Harrismith farmers are doing spectacularly well. Lodges in Tuli Block, Lodges near the Olifants river, big herds of disease-free Ramaposas, massive wild free-range earthworm farms, lodges on their farms (see http://www.buffalohillspgr.co.za/ and http://www.lalanathi.co.za/). They’re also buying “townhouses” – big old sandstone houses in town which they revamp and extend for staying over if they’re a bit too aled to drive home to their farms! I spose you could call them Safe Houses.
And so some more upstanding citizens became senior citizens!
That whistling noise you hear in your ears is not tinnitis. It’s the sound of the plummeting reaching terminal velocity . . . . .