Before my Mother got Alzheimer’s, her party piece was the song
There’s nothing so lonesome like a pub with no beer.
At every single family get together, she’d be asked to sing it. It’s a great party piece with catchy sing along lines. All of us, even the smallest kids would join in on the final line of each verse,
There’s nothing as lonesome as a pub with no beer
A happy childhood memory
We always loved when my Mother sang the song. She had a nice voice and could sing all the verses and choruses perfectly and with great emotion. I loved watching her sing , because she is a shy woman and this was one time she did not mind being the certain of attention. She would share the song with her audience looking at each of us individually.
We kids and the adults would all join in on the final words of each verse-
the pub has no beer.
The joy of singing along with all the adults and feeling connected and bonded -to feel like a part of this adult group is one of my happiest childhood memories.
A pub with no beer and a man cries
As a kid, I though the song was magical. In one of the verse the chorus goes
Old Billy, the blacksmith, the first time in his life
Has gone home cold sober to his darling wife
He walks in the kitchen, she says, “You’re early, me dear”
Then he breaks down and he tells her that the pub’s got no beer
I always wondered at this. Imagine. A grown man crying because there’s a pub with no beer. It shows how important alcohol is- a disaster when there’s none around. I could not wait until I was old enough to drink and be one of the adults.
The brain washing starts early
So the brain washing that alcohol is essential to a happy life starts early. People will say it’s just a song, don’t take it so seriously. But the songs we sing and the language we use make us part of what we are, it defines us and help us make sense of our world. Every generation growing up has its own singers who help them understand and live life. From the Beatles, Queen, Taylor Swift, Drake, the songs we hear influence us. What Irish person has not enjoyed the Fields of Athenry at a sports match?
Young children think being Irish means drinking
We don’t exist in a vacuum, we’re influenced by everything that goes on around us. A Trinity College study showed most children of just 10 years in Irish primary schools already believed being Irish mean drinking. When packing their spaceships to leave Earth most of them included alcohol, because we’re Irish, that’s what we do. The cute pictures they drew showed the Leprechauns holding a pint.
In Ireland, a hangover is a sign of a good night out rather than a sign of physical damage to the one and only body we have.
A shield is needed
Living in this toxic alcohol (alcogenic) culture, it’s really important we protect ourselves from absorbing these messages that alcohol is this harmless drug that’s a key part of living happily. That we need alcohol to connect to other people.
So surrounding ourselves with people who have a healthy attitude to alcohol is important. Make a point of listening to or reading content which goes against the majority view that alcohol is healthy and is vital to a happy life.
Even after years of listening to people’s stories of being harmed by alcohol, I can still find myself feeling isolated because I don’t want to drink or I only wanted one drink. One time, I’ve even given myself a hangover !
The cruel irony
Finally, My Mother can no longer sing. She talks strings of words which are hard to make sense of. On a good day, she can smile and hum along to a song. “Non-verbal” the doctors call it. A word that does not come close to describing the pain of my lovely Mother not able to talk to us.
What would I give to hear her sing the song, pub with no beer, one last time? To watch her sing and move in happy blissful connection with our family, lovingly looking at each of us in turn. Even just thinking about it, makes me cry.
I know I’d make sure someone would record her singing so I would have it for all time.
I’d also bring her to the new pub that does not sell beer .
The cruel irony is not lost on me.
You can hear the song below.