While I am teetotal, I have been drunk before. That experience is not why I don’t drink, though, especially given that it was a completely accidental overindulgence in tiramisu at Euro Disney when I was eight years old.
This experience did temper my disgust upon first hearing the news that 72 year old BBC presenter Angela Rippon had been caught completely off her face on opiates.
Rippon ate a loaf of bread with poppy seeds and a poppy seed bagel over the course of three days for the fourth series of Rip Off Britain: Food. She then gave a urine test in which was found traces of morphine, which is derived from opium.
This was an experiment to replicate the story of a program contributor about how he was fired from his job at a power station after a routine drug test showed opiates in his system. Dumbfounded at first, he realised that the answer must be the poppy seed bread he’d eaten for his breakfast.
For her part, Rippon was surprised:
In more than 50 years of broadcasting I’ve found myself in a number of extraordinary situations. But I must say I never thought I’d find myself taking a drugs test, let alone have it come back positive.
It’s not reported whether she cared or not, given how great she felt.
There is a bit more science to go with this, because apparently there can be a 600 fold variation in the amount of opium in poppy seeds.
On a serious note, there are obviously some lessons to be learnt for workplace drug testing, especially in positions of responsibility. But this story is far too good for serious! The bit that amused me was the fact that it was on a program called Rip Off Britain. Sadly, I didn’t watch the program but my brain thought of a show complaining about how expensive heroin was when compared to baked goods.
Then I cast my mind back to my drunken jaunt with Minnie Mouse and wondered whether, a decade or two later, it was the coffee or the lemon and poppy seed muffin that used to my Monday mornings in the airport on my way to work bearable!