Paddy's Feeling For Thirst

Written January 2007

There was that terrific urban myth that the Inuit peoples had a gloriously high number of words for ‘snow’. It's been debunked over and over, which is a great pity, because it's an only gorgeous assumption. How wonderful to have that richness of language for describing your surroundings - it's a concept awash with innocence, isn't it? Taking pleasure in the simple beauty of your environment, taking meaning out of the idea of home . . . In Ireland, we have a similar approach to drunkenness. Because in Ireland you can't just be drunk. To be merely drunk is to make little of the experience. No, you can be pissed. You can be fluthered. You can be jarred. You can be trousered. You can be polluted, ossified, twisted, stocious, bollixed, plastered, tanked, locked, blethered, blathered, smashed, banjaxed, shitfaced, pickled, scuttered, soused, hammered, blind, battered, lashed, poleaxed, slaughtered. You can be either langers or langered or even langerated. You can be steaming, pronounced shtaymin. Or mouldy, pronounced mowldy. Or you can just be plain fucked. But rarely, simply drunk. Describing the state of drunkenness needs thought and care and a lot of hand-waving and eye-rolling. Being just drunk . . . Ah, sure, how would that explain anything? How would that bring a stranger into your world?

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