18 December 2008
For my 15th birthday in South Kensington, one of my neighbours surreptitiously gave me a bottle of Beefeater gin. My neighbour was a buxom French-Egyptian woman with blonde hair and green eyes and two children my age who attended Wellington College and the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle. The gin bottle was in a gift box. I hid it in my room upstairs. Over the course of a couple of months, I drank it straight. No tonic, no water, no lime. I had been drinking ale, bitter, and lager for almost a year. Even whisky and vodka. But the Beefeater was something new, my introduction to more sophisticated material, the beginning of a love affair. No other substance affected me the same way, except perhaps wine and whisky. I participated in messy pub brawls and snogged svelte public school girls. My first jail term was due to drinking too much gin. Over the years gin has served me extremely well, on the whole, and today I can attribute new horizons to drinking it. To gin, I raise my glass.