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Drinking to our health

Spare a thought for your colleagues in London or New York. Most of them are still working from home, juggling over-crowded, pointless conference calls with parental oversight and even the odd bit of real work. Those of us in Hong Kong are back to normal.

That is not necessarily a good thing. One of the ironies of the coronavirus is the relative improvement in health many of us have achieved. As the pandemic spread around the globe, people drank less and exercised more. Nor was that a conscious response to the pandemic. The reduction in calories and units of alcohol was almost entirely down to the inconvenience of getting sozzled.

This week, I met with a few old friends to reverse that unwelcome course ─ let’s call it a spot of retox. The coterie included a former banker who has frequently featured in this column. He arrived looking every inch a man who was enjoying a break from banking. He left looking every inch a man who needed a break from drinking.

The conversation barely touched on the coronavirus. Those elsewhere might struggle to remember when Covid-19 did not dominate every conversation, but those of us coming out of the pandemic can now go back to concentrating our attention on other end-of-world scenarios: North Korea blowing up the DMZ liaison office, tensions between the US and China, JK Rowling OMG.

It is true: this is not a good year. But those with a sense of perspective should remember that historically speaking, we are still the lucky ones. Cavemen did not have draught beer. Ancient Egyptians had no disco. Sumerians lacked even the most rudimentary whoopie cushions. These great inventions, and many more, should make us grateful to be alive in 2020.

That is not to say we shouldn’t consider the costs. I considered the cost quite seriously this week. Luckily, I managed to scarper before the bill arrived.