A few weeks ago, I chanced upon the following letter in the problem pages of the New York Times magazine.
"A co-worker of mine has recently adopted a habit of having a glass of wine at lunch. She is the only one of our small group who drinks alcohol at lunch and others are finding this behaviour quite odd and even outright wrong. I have said nothing to our co-worker and written this off as a peculiarity, but do I have the ethical responsibility to do something in order to reduce the chances that she hurts herself or others?" Name withheld.
Once I'd stopped laughing (there's so much to laugh about in there), I treated myself to a happy mental montage of my own lunchtime abominations over the years.
The time I took a work experience boy along to a meeting with a famous two-to-three-bottler (the boy was later found in the office gents with his entire head beneath the cold tap).
The time an ingenious co-worker – there is no genius like chardonnay-fuelled genius – cut out sets of open eyes for us all after a gruelling pub session, and we stuck them to our closed lids as we had forty winks at our desks. The 45-minute interview with a celebrity chef that turned into a two-day lunch. No exaggeration.
When I hobbled back to work 48 hours later, I got a standing ovation from my desk, who had covered for me. I could have been sacked, but I don't regret a single sodden second. Because I was young and my life wasn't yet governed by various strains of fear. And because we all sensed, back then, that it was nearing the end of an era.
The death of day drinking
Now, it's official: daytime drinking isn't just "peculiar" and "wrong", it's over. With companies like Lloyd's of London banning its employees from drinking alcohol during the working day, hotels and restaurants have seen their profits fall over the past six months. Some have even been forced to bring out ranges of exotic teas – served in wine glasses – to sate their priggish clientele. And I trust no one will think me unkind when I say that I hope any deal or merger made on a few too many Assam Mangalams implodes in the most spectacular fashion.
We owe it to ourselves and to the country – a country that has never been able to function in any meaningful social capacity without alcohol – to bring back lunchtime drinking. It doesn't have to be a two-day affair or leave you with your head beneath the cold tap. And if you stick to the following rules, nobody has to get hurt.
The new rules
Don't ever start drinking before 1pm.
Pick an outdoor location if you can. This allows you to keep vaguely in touch with Sober People World while ensuring you revel in the fact that you're not currently a member ("Look at that boring little man picking up his dry cleaning! Ha! Another glass when you're ready...")
Always clear your afternoon and evening, because after bottle number three, anything could happen.
Never stop and start. Any chinks and the hangover will creep in, so either go straight through to dinner or go home and devour some cereal in front of a documentary about obscure skin diseases.
And, above all, make sure that somewhere in your workplace there is a "concerned colleague" who has logged your behaviour and is finding it "quite odd – and even outright wrong".
Would you do drinks in the daytime? Let us know in the comments section.
The Telegraph, London