Was it my father's Irish blood that drove him to drink. Buggered if I know really. The one thing I can say is that it was my father's drinking that drove me not to drink. And that's not the full story either.
I grew up thinking that it was normal for a bloke to drink beer, and drink it until they were drunk, and then eventually they would fall asleep. Dad wasn't a violent drunk but there were plenty of arguments and fights caused by his habit. I remember lying awake in bed at night waiting for him to come home, wishing I could hear the car pull up the driveway and then hearing the opening of the door and the inevitable shouting match that would start.
"You're nothing but a drunken sod!!!" Mum would yell, and continue with a verbal barrage for what seemed like ages. Dad's tea would be spoiled in the oven or on a foil covered plate kept warm on top of a simmering saucepan.
So these are the images I retain from my childhood together with the times we would go out as a family and Mum would end up having to drive home because Dad was too pissed.
I remember one night where I almost belted him. I was about 16 or 17 and he took a step towards Mum with a beer bottle. If I had hit him, and I came close, I would have put him through the window. I left the house after he fell asleep and spent the next few hours just walking around the street. That was the only time that I saw any real hint of the possibility of physical violence from him, but it made me even more determined not to drink and risk the possibility of losing control.
That strict self control is something I've lived with all my life.