I don’t have a problem, but sometimes I long for a night on the lash. One of those brash drinking sessions, with sloppy kebabs and raucous bus rides and a blurry 3am trip to the cash point that has you declaring a week later that your card has been cloned. Not to mention the savage hangover that necessitates an entire day on the couch watching the top 50 power ballads of all time, before going out for a curry. I’ve always enjoyed a spot of binge drinking – I don’t much bother with the after-work wine or the Sunday pint, it’s all or nothing as far as I’m concerned, and lately it’s just been nothing. Pre-dawn nappy changes are quite enough sober, doing them hungover – or still drunk – would be unwise.
It’s been this way for a while, obviously. At my work leaving drinks I did have a glass of champagne, and the young beauty intern, who was sweetly clueless about the politics surrounding childbirth and its many rules, said to me, ‘But are you allowed?’
Before I could say a word the editor turned to her and said flatly, ‘Shut up. I’m sick to death of no one being allowed to drink when they’re pregnant. Just shut up.’
But ever since the NHS said that no alcohol can be considered safe in pregnancy, sporting a glass of Rioja and a big belly in public is liable to get you well and truly tutted, by complete strangers. Then, once you’ve had the baby, it’s not really an option. In fact, the last time I got utterly, gloriously smashed was Halloween 2009. We ended up at Passing Clouds and annoyed a rather scary bloke (possibly the resident dealer, judging by his vile temper and bloated sense of his own importance) by dancing too close to his perch, where he apparently ‘always stands’. Ooops. We rounded up the night after one friend got vomited on and another got kicked out for following a girl into the Ladies, and adjourned the next day for fry-ups at Hackney City Farm. Happy days.
Anyway, I do have a point here. At Exmouth Market you can conjure up a similarly excessive night (albeit less cheap than necking plastic cups of vodka and pineapple juice at Passing Clouds.). There’s Cafe Kick, Medcalf and my personal favourite, Moro.
However, if you’re currently skint, not drinking, hibernating or sporting a ‘cling’ (my sister’s word for a baby), Exmouth Market has also turned into a fine spot for lunch, as this is when the restaurants put on good-value deals – think a tenner instead of a fifty. Medcalf was doing burgers when I went there last, and Moro does lamby-pita-salad type things. And next door to Moro is now Morito, a tapas bar with the same food served in tapas sizes, where you get just as full for about half the price (well a bit more than half, it’s not actually that cheap). We had jamon with padron peppers, a game pate, chestunut and chorizo soup (personal favourite), some seared pork and, best of all, raisin ice cream (and this is my point), which arrives plonked into an unannounced glass of sherry, so even if you’re abstaining you can gulp it down without a care. Because in the same way that a Snickers bars bought with change you found in a vending machine has no calories, booze you didn’t knowingly order is completely harmless.