There’s long been speculation about the existence of a mysterious “Churchill gene” which enables some people to remain healthy and brilliant despite alcohol consumption that would kill others. Other than the great man himself, who quipped “always remember that I have taken more alcohol than it has taken out of me,” William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Graham Greene, Beethoven, Van Gough, Jason Pollock and Francis Bacon also appear to have fit the mould. Drinking, it seemed, enhanced their creativity, rather than vice versa.
But now, reports Philip Hunter in this month’s Prospect, scientists at the University of Colorado have hard evidence that 15 per cent of Caucasians have what is known as the “G-variant gene,” which makes alcohol behave more like an opiate, like morphine. This has a stronger than normal effect on mood and behaviour, prompting an endorphin release which—far from causing people to become morose or drowsy—is “positive and pleasant to behold,” lending weight to the theory of alcohol-enhanced creativity.
So, does this mean that the government should scrap its earlier advice and abandon its plans to set a minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit? Or is this “Churchill gene” a very suspect, indeed self-serving, notion? Weigh in here.