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It seems strange to contemplate now, but earlier in my life all really wanted to do was to be able to spend long and relaxing evenings at the local pub.

Strange, not least because I took myself off to a land where there are no pubs (a few hearthearted attempts notwithstanding) nor the social setting that encourages such behavior.

Perhaps this is just as well. My desire for beer has shrivelled to about one bottle a week; same goes for most other alcoholic drinks. At one point, a day without alcohol would seem unusual – these days a day with does. I can ramp up the consumption for short spells – like a vacation – but then it fizzles away again.

The downside of this is that I have a rather large collection of barely opened malt whiskies filling up the end of the dining room, along with bottles of wine and beer bought with my old state of mind in operation, assuming a rather more rapid consumption than actually occurs. It means I'm always good for a drink should someone drop by – only most of our friends barely drink as well.

So it's doubtful that I would have adopted the pub life even if one was next door. My grandparents bought a house that indeed did have a pub next door, and suited to them it was. Not, I think, to me.