This week, Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe came out and said that he had been sober for a year, deciding to give up drinking after beoming reliant on alcohol to enjoy himself. This reliance on alcohol is pretty common amongst people in his age group, but the reaction to Radcliffe's admission has not really been one of praise. Instead there have been many sneering commentators with lots of (generally older) people suggesting that he is a bit of a lightweight and boring, as though getting blindingly drunk every weekend is the done thing for teenagers and people in their twenties. Now I don't want to come across all Daily Mail; I think young people should go out, have a laugh, have a drink and have fun. If you can't do it when you are twenty, with no responsibilities and a student loan to waste, when can you? However, I don't like the attitude that this should be the done thing for twenty-somethings.
People seem to find Radcliffe's admission interesting because there have been no - or very few at least - pictures of him falling out of nightclubs drunk, nor has there been any knowledge of his drinking. I think it this lack of awareness that is surprising people. There seems to be a general consensus that, if it was so bad, why didn't we already know about it? But for Radcliffe, this isn't the point. It isn't that amount that he was drinking that was the problem, it was the reason for doing it - his belief that he couldn't have a good time without it.
There is a very strange attitude in this country towards drinking, especially towards those who don't drink, or who want to limit their drinking. In the past when I have cut down on smoking, I have had nothing but encouragement from friends. Yet when I have told them that I won't be drinking this evening, I have heard only complaints that I am "boring" and spoiling other people's fun. In fact, the minute I say that I'm not going to be getting off my face, it becomes my friends' personal mission to get me wankered. These are the same friends who see me puking my guts up the next day, the trips to the toilet the only breaks in my weekend under a duvet where a Smiths CD, a loaf of bread and a crushing sense of shame are my only company. Don't get me wrong, I do the same, encouraging people to come out when they don't want to, buying drinks for those who have only brought out a tenner (normally for the reason that they don't want to get to wasted). However, I think it's time that as a nation, we became more tolerant to those who don't want to drink, or who don't want to drink to the excess. Everyone is happy to lambast Amy Winehouse when she turns up drunk to a concert and get on their high horses. Yet when a young actor says that he has given up drinking in order to regain complete control of his life, he is mocked. I think people see it as a criticism of themselves and their own drinking when someone says that they wish to give up. This is not the case here. Daniel Radcliffe is just saying that drinking doesn't do it for him. For that, he should be applauded.