Raise a glass to our heroic boozehounds

Why we kept help but admire Gerard Depardieu's gargantuan drinking exploits.

In The Daily Telegraph, Jemima Lewis confesses to a "discomfiting twinge" of admiration for Gerard Depardieu. I feel the same.

Depardieu says he can drink 14 bottles of wine a day, and even if it's only half-true, well, one has to admit there's something heroic about it. After all, we're a sober lot these days, and not just "Generation Yawn" as the current 20-somethings are often dubbed.

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Not long ago Carol Midgley complained in The Times about how boringly sensible the middle classes have become. "People would once boast (tediously, I admit) about how much they drank, now all I hear is people bragging about how much they've cut down Only two glasses of wine this week,' they'll trill."

I know what she means: all those smug people asking for mineral water. It's too much to bear sometimes, especially as I can see myself turning into one of them.

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And then along comes Depardieu saying he's still able (at 65, no less) to put away 14 bottles a day. "In the morning, it starts at home with champagne or red wine before 10am," he told So Film magazine.

"Then again champagne. Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, champagne, beer and more pastis at around 5pm to finish off the bottle. Later on vodka and/or whisky."

Despite this gargantuan thirst, Depardieu says he's as fit as a fiddle and never gets drunk "just a little pissed". And if he oversteps the mark he quickly sobers up. "All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of ros wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy."

From the point of view of "us common folk", says Jemima Lewis, there's something "superhuman" about a boozehound who can put it away in such volumes.

"Even the Norse god Thor, who prided himself on being the biggest drinker in all the nine worlds, would balk at a night on the tiles with Depardieu." And unlike most of us, he doesn't live in fear far from worrying about drinking too much, he boasts about it.

But let's not get too carried away. As Lewis says, we may like vicariously living through the antics of hell-raisers like Depardieu, Oliver Reed and Peter O'Toole, but in reality most drunks are both sad and annoying.

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No one wants to sit next to one at a dinner party. And even Depardieu, "who clearly holds his drink better than most, would no doubt be a crashing bore by the time he'd polished off the 14th bottle". She's right, I suppose. But he'd probably be more entertaining, drunk, than most Hollywood stars sober.

Sing and be merry

Yvette Cooper reveals that her family spent their summer holiday on a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria. "It was absolutely brilliant," says the shadow home secretary. "We were singing the songs as we cycled through Salzburg.

We even had headscarves that we'd made out of curtain material." Sounds fun. What a pity she didn't cheer up the Labour Party Conference by singing about some of her favourite things.

Tabloid money: grovelling to the Scots is beneath us

"So, about Scotland," says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. "The half of me that is Scottish is glad they voted to stay in the union. The half of me that is English is spitting nails at the pleading, begging and grovelling our government has done to bribe them to stay. It was embarrassing and frankly beneath us because the suggestion was the rest of the union would collapse without Scotland which is rubbish I'm also hacked off that the political tsunami which is about to hit will involve the total rewriting of our constitution all because 1.6 million Scots wanted independence, resulting in political meltdown for the other 62 million of us."

"It has emerged that the British Charitable Fund, established to help destitute expats living in France, is now dealing with a record number of cases," says Jane Moore in The Sun.

"Many of them are people like 51-year-old Heather Davey. She sold her home in Kent seven years ago to pursue the dream life' near the Loire Valley. After various unforeseen problems, she ran out of money and asked the French authorities for financial help to feed her children. She says she was told that because I hadn't paid into the system, I wasn't entitled to anything from the system'. And this is the response from our European neighbours. So the next time the British government cites EU regulations as the reason for dishing out millions in benefits to asylum seekers who have crossed several safe countries to get here, take it with a very large pinch of sel."

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"US boxer Floyd Pretty Boy' Mayweather, 37, upset staff at Las Vegas's Hard Rock cafe by failing to offer a tip, despite earning £20m defending his title," says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. "But his party, including actor Jamie Foxx, spent £20,000 on food and champagne. And the Hard Rock Cafe (there and in London) is hardly haute cuisine. Being only a cut above McDonald's. Maybe Pretty Boy coughed up enough."

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