'Getting drunk in front of your mum is too embarrassing to contemplate'

I think I would make a terrible alcoholic. I get drunk quite easily and suffer the most appalling hangovers. So I hope I never develop a dependence on the strong stuff.

Living and working in areas where you frequently see grizzled-looking men and women getting stuck into the Special Brew at 8am is a powerful tool.

I am fond of a tipple but I find it amazing how much booze it is acceptable to imbibe these days. My paternal grandparents barely touched more than a snifter of sherry. My maternal grandparents thought the odd milk stout or tot of Bells their right, but were hardly prime-time boozers.

Even when I was growing up, I recall mum and dad's alcohol consumption being confined largely to the occasional night out among the inauspicious surroundings of Prestwich Hospital social club. The continental wine and water approach for children was definitely not pursued in our house. Now it sometimes seems that all but the most teetotal of households have a bottle or two of vin de paysabout the place, although not necessarily dishing it out to children.

Some weeks, alcohol plays more of a part than others. I am writing before a week topped and tailed with friends' parties. In addition, it is filled almost throughout with Christmas drinks, formal and informal, the works do and the other half's works do. I plan to spend the following Sunday letting my liver take a break in the more sedate setting of a carol service, but then there is Christmas itself still to come.

That said, regarding Christmas Day, I think my body has less to fear. Getting drunk in front of your mum is just too embarrassing to contemplate. As for being any more than mildly tipsy in front of the in-laws, well, let's just say I do not think we know each other well enough for that just yet.

On that note, may I wish you all a very merry (for the right reasons) Christmas and happy new year.