Friday, 31 January 2014

One month down, eleven to go

Photo copyright Nick Wallis
What is this stuff, again?
Look, a picture of me holding a glass of neat vodka. Only joking. It's water. Something I still don't get enough of. One day last week every single thing I drank contained caffeine, so I'm cutting down on that, now, too. There's always something.

Well, I've lasted a month without booze, and it's time to say goodbye to most of my fellow travellers who will be launching themselves off the back of the Dry January wagon with an Olympic-standard vengeance into a large vat of something well-deserved.

Good for them.

The main thing I've noticed about not drinking, and not having any prospect of drinking for a very long time is that you don't get too thrilled about things.

I used to be enthusiastic about each forthcoming weekend, and the various injustices of the world I may or may not put to rights with different groups of friends. At the weekend, that enthusiasm would get magnified, largely in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol imbibed.

Now that joyous unpredictability has been removed from my weekly prospects, I find myself becoming more contained, reserved, and yes, sober about everything.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a new thing. Knowing the weekend is going to provide little in the way of escape from the daily hustle and general drudgery forces you to appreciate your work and your family more. It's all there is.



1) It makes me pathetically grateful to see the amount of money people have contributed going steadily upwards. It also serves as a salutary reminder of my likely bankruptcy if I do fall off the wagon. If you can spare a fiver, or even two quid or whatever the minimum donation is, please find it in your heart to do so, gawd bless yer guvnor, luv a duck, ect ect…

2) One donor (hello Matt!) suggested I write a blog post on how I have motivated myself to stop drinking and generally be more healthy. I've taken up with a gym and over the last few months got myself down to the lowest weight of my adult life.

I like the idea of accepting commissions, so in my next post, sponsored by Matt, I will reveal the secret of losing weight, cutting out drinking and getting fit. If you like, you can be the sponsor of the post after that.

I will write about anything that takes your fancy. All you have to do is make a donation, communicate your chosen subject matter to me and a minimum four hundred words will be yours.

That's got to be a good deal, especially if you only donate a fiver.

My keyboard is primed and ready. I await your patronage with obsequious servility.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Email updates via email to your email inbox

Photo by Nick Wallis
Mmm… booze.
As well as betting against my ability to stay dry, you can now receive semi-regular insights into the existential disintegration which is already establishing itself as the defining characteristic of this challenge.

That's right, either by clicking here, or if you are looking at this on a proper computer, by entering your email into the box here ---------------------------------------------------------->
(the one that says "Get new posts by email" - that's it, just underneath the legend "Enter your email address" - well done), you can get information on how miserable I'm feeling without a drink, how I'm regretting signing up for the long haul and how much money it's going to cost me if I do have a drink.

Terrifyingly, the last blog post prompted donations of £155, which means we are now at £225 in total. For reasons explained on the donations page, that means any drink I have in 2014 will now cost me at least £450, something which makes the glass of wine in the picture above significantly less tempting. That and the fact it's 10.35am on a Monday morning.

So go on. Why not? Sign up to receiving regular email updates via email to your email inbox. Use it as an aide memoire to donate, or track the effects of your donation as this exercise in abstinence builds towards its calendrical climax, or just use it to receive hopefully diverting but essentially pointless missives about a challenge which can actually be achieved by sitting and doing nothing other than writing essentially pointless missives.

Go on. Go on. I imagine it's reasonably easy to unsubscribe. Go on! Go on...


It's okay.

It's all over now.

Thank you.


PS I'd like to promise your email address won't be used for other purposes but as this blog and FeedBurner are both powered by google they're probably flogging it to the NSA the moment you type it in. I won't do anything with it, if that's any comfort.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Frank Skinner is not drinking either

Good morning. It is 7.46am I am on a train from Woking to Southampton. I should be asleep, but the heating isn’t working very well and I am freezing. Not happy. As you can see.

Nick Wallis on the 0757 from Woking to Southampton 21 Jan 2014
MacBook view of an unhappy passenger
Anyway. Woo. Not drinking. Yeah. I was listening to Richard Bacon on BBC radio 5live yesterday talking about his attempts to do Dry January. He said he lasted until 1 Jan. Then he said he thought he’d try again and lasted until 2 Jan.

The reason he brought this up was because he was talking to Frank Skinner, who is a recovering alcoholic. Richard was concerned his own drinking had reached a worrying level and asked about Frank’s consumption when he was still on the sauce.

Frank told Richard he used to keep a bottle of sherry at his bedside, which he’d have for breakfast, but didn’t really think things had got out of hand until the bottle of sherry became a bottle of Pernod. 

Richard seemed to find this reassuring.

Frank was then asked what it was like doing comedy whilst he was drinking. He said he gave up drinking before he started. 

In fact, he said, that’s the thing about stopping drinking - you end up with a lot of time on your hands. 

He thought he should do something to fill it and gave stand-up a try. 

As a devotee of Frank’s Absolute Radio podcast, I’m glad he did.


If you haven’t sponsored my own attempts to stay off the booze, please consider doing so. The more you sponsor me, the more it’ll cost me if I crack. It’s a good incentive. Your money will also help some people in very disadvantaged circumstances. We’re at £70 so far. If you can spare a fiver, it would be great to reach £100 by the end of the month.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

January: headaches, mild depression and whisky

I've written about not drinking in January before, you know, for Surrey Life magazine. I decided it was a terrible idea:

"I’m not going to pretend I like January. It’s horrible.

The feasting and bonhomie of Christmas and New Year have gone. The weather is grim and wet, and the county’s poor, huddled commuters gather once more to board their wheezy carriages, silent and miserable in the morning darkness.

You don’t enjoy January, you get through it. Or at least, you used to.

In recent years it's changed. Instead of retreating into the warmth of our homes, venturing out only to work and buy necessities, we are being encouraged to treat the entire month as a giant weight-loss opportunity.

The fitness DVD adverts start on Boxing Day. The newspapers start using the d-words - detox and diet - in the run up to New Year.

Why do we do it to ourselves? Why massively over-indulge through the Christmas period and then pretend we’re going to act like ascetic monks from the first Monday of the New Year? 

Because we’re told to, by people who stand to make lots of money from it. Fatten up, little piggies, now join a gym and get on the treadmill.

Last year my producer Emma ran away from the BBC to take a job with the charity Alcohol Concern. Emma is a wonderful human being, but went up in my estimation considerably when she told me that during her interview she asked if the staff ever went for a drink. That could have gone badly for her, but it didn't.

Emma’s big project for 2013 is a campaign aimed at encouraging us to dry out for the whole of January. The idea being you try not to drink any booze for a month, whilst people essentially bet you do, by way of sponsorship. Any money raised goes towards helping people with ongoing alcohol problems.

I’m not going to do it. 

It’s taken me a long time to realise moderation is a laudable aim. In the run up to Christmas that means giving mince pies a hard stare, rather than a cheeky, conspiratorial wink. In January, it hopefully means I don’t have to join the temporary teetotallers, forever boiling strange lumps of vegetable matter in the office microwave whilst pretending to enjoy their herbal tea. I’ve been there, and I never want to do it again.

My New Year’s wish for the readers of Surrey Life is that together we stop doing what we’re told to and remember the true meaning of January - headaches, mild depression and whisky. 


What a hypocrite. 

After an initial flurry of donations, there has been a lot of tumbleweed blowing through my just giving page. If you want to help some people in various disadvantaged circumstances and possibly win double your donation back, please click here. It will make a difference. Thank you.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

One week down, fifty-one to go

And yet I seem remarkably chipper. I did have my first "Christ I need a beer" moment tonight, but then it's been a stressful few days.

In today's NiND tape we reflect on vicars, charity and a book I've been given called The Diseases of Alcohol.

Hope you are all having a wonderful 2014.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Let's make this interesting

Happy New Year. Last night was spent getting plastered. I drained the last of my champagne as the pre bong Ben chimes rang out of my television speakers and then stayed up for a further two hours gasping alternately in horror and admiration at Jools Holland's Hootenanny.

So here we are. In order to raise some money for charity, keep you interested and provide me with an incentive to stay off the booze in 2014, I have set up a donations page. With a twist.

Every pound you donate will go to charity. If I cave and have a drink at any stage in 2014, your money will still go to charity, but I will also refund double your donation out of my own pocket. Like an old-fashioned bet.

So why not click on the link (or if you're having difficulty, copy and paste this:

into your web browser), donate a tenner, and then spend all of 2014 constantly badgering me to go for a drink so you can get double your money back, still raise money for some excellent charities and have a right old laugh at my expense.