But I returned to London from Cape Town some 15 months ago and was shocked by the relentless sensationalist newspaper headlines about binge drinking and antisocial behaviour. There is much pontification, wringing of hands, apportioning of blame. It's a very negative landscape.
Don't get me wrong, alcohol misuse is a serious issue. But there is an opportunity here, a possibility: to foster a drinking culture in Britain in which it's totally uncool to get drunk.
We can make a real and lasting difference to our communities and build on the great work we already do as producers and retailers across the on and off- trades. Indeed, we can achieve far more through voluntary action working with government, educators, police, the medical community and others than through the sledgehammer of a punitive, legislative approach.
As an industry we have a lot to offer. We can share best practice in terms of employee alcohol policies and programmes. We can use our consumer insight and marketing skills to further improve responsible drinking messaging. We can contribute to improving the night-time economy and experience. We can maintain high standards of responsible marketing and raise the bar on responsible retailing. And we can insist that under-18s are educated about alcohol.
The Campaign for Smarter Drinking, now in its second year, is an outstanding example of more than 40 companies coming together to create a £100m five-year social marketing campaign.
We have a choice. Accept things as they are or support the government in fostering a culture where it is totally uncool to get drunk. That would be good for our brands, businesses and society as a whole.
I'll raise a glass to that.
Guest editor Simon Litherland is managing director of Diageo GB.