DRINK, Marx said, is the curse of the working class. Work, Oscar Wilde retorted, is the curse of the drinking class. But just as society has become more middle class (2000 was the year the UK became more middle than working class), so drinking issues have also gone up the social scale.

This year, following a bit of overindulgence at Christmas, I’ve been attempting to cut out red meat and alcohol for January. Regular readers of this column will know that Mrs B is not a regular reader of my column, so I can safely mention the steak sandwich I had on a work trip to London. But while my red meat abstinence has slipped, I have managed (for once) to stick Dry January out. And hopefully, by publicly shaming myself this way, I’ll make it through the final week of aridity.

Drinking problems feel the opposite way round to when I was growing up. Recent statistics show that while abstaining from alcohol has grown sharply for 16-24 year olds (non-drinkers rising from 18 per cent to 29 per cent over the last decade), middle-aged, middle-class drinking is continually on the rise. And while the young tend to drink only at the weekend, the middle-aged as a group are much more likely to drink throughout the week.

That’s my drinking down to a tee. I’m very much a glass of wine when I’m cooking sort of a guy: little and often, rather than going out to get drunk. Last year, I had one of those regular health checks where they take your blood pressure and quiz you about drinking habits. How often do you have a drink before midday, I was asked? Having gone in ready for a telling-off about my drinking, I came out thinking, maybe I’m not that bad after all.

Few of us, though, are completely honest about how much we drink. Last year, the BBC showed a documentary, still available on the iPlayer, called Drinkers Like Me. The programme looked at drinkers like, well, me, and followed presenter’s Adrian Chiles’ attempts to cut down on his drinking. One of the most striking statistics from the programme was that the UK buys twice as much alcohol as it claims to drink.

Attitudes need to change. As Adrian Chiles says in the documentary, alcohol is the one drug that you have to apologise for not taking. Pubs and restaurants can help here – there are now some half-decent non-alcoholic beers like Nanny State and Adnam’s Ghost Ship, but my experience in Salisbury this last month is that the non-alcoholic option is often limited or non-existent. The thirst for such drinks is growing, but many of our city’s landlords are yet to catch up.