Saturday, 29 March 2014

A quarter of the way there

Life has reached a certain equilibrium. I still fancy a drink now and then. I wonder if that ever fades. When you read Russell Brand on the easy availability of heroin, and how simple he finds it to score wherever he is in the world, I think "really?"
What I'm spending the money I've saved from not drinking on

I'm not sure I would be able to get hold of heroin that easily. But alcohol is different - it is available everywhere, including my fridge. A moment of weakness is that much easier to act on than other drugs, which must make it tough for alcoholics. With illegal drugs, you can attempt to push yourself into an environment where those drugs are no longer present, or at least, in your face. That's tricky with booze.

My family and work responsibilities are such that the opportunities to drink a few pints don't come up very often, and haven't done for two or three years. That's not to say I haven't grasped those opportunities with both hands, but in the last year or so it would be less than once a week.

Since starting this project I've been out and around alcohol two or three times, and on each occasion I was rather grateful not to be drinking. I don't know why.

The occasion to be slightly tipsy comes around much more regularly, but it is so time-consuming, expensive (calorifically as well as financially), impractical (I am entering the Dad's Taxi phase of parenthood) and ultimately not that exciting, it's been easy to pass the opportunity up.

That's not to say I think I could give up alcohol permanently. Well, of course I could, but I'm not yet sure I want to. My default thought to counter most impulses to drink is - "ah well, next year". If that prospect had been removed I'm not sure I would be so relaxed about things.

PS If you're wondering about the badge, this link explains all.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Me? At a free bar? At a St Patrick's celebration?

Myself and the lady barmaid lady behind the bar
'Fraid so.

Last week I stayed in a place which translated as Hotel Wine. I was offered a dram of whisky in reception. I was told the bar had more than 400 different malts. My room was called Freixenet.

Today I was "backstage" at the St Patrick's celebrations in Trafalgar Square, and yes, the free Guinness was flowing like water. I had a diet coke.

Is this some kind of cosmic joke?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I've just been to the doctor

I've just taken myself to the doctor to assess the state of my health now I've spent two months, 12 days and what feels like thousands of long tedious hours without drinking.

Proof not every photograph livens up a blog post
Given the main reason I gave up drinking was to be more productive, the fact its taken me two months to go for a check up speaks volumes. Sobriety has not made me more productive, it has not made me feel better, and I haven't saved any money. In fact I got so bored I bought a new computer, so it's actually costing me money. This two month tardiness has also made a complete mess of my original plans to do a revelatory before/after analysis of my liver function, blood glucose, skin condition etc.

The doctor patiently listened to me explain what I was doing. His view was more that as I have never exhibited any obvious sign of ill-health through drinking (other than the usual crashing hangovers and memory loss), then the only meaningful check worth carrying out was a blood test. Any long term damage caused by a quarter of a century of drinking would show up in that. The fact I've been dry for nine weeks would make next to no difference.

It's a sign!
This is comforting to a point. The reason I don't feel any better or healthier for not drinking in the short term is probably because I wasn't drinking the sorts of quantities of booze likely to cause short, or mid-term problems. If I was, I would have suffered the effects of ill health.

If I've been building up long term problems, well, I'll find out next week.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Two months down, ten to go

My glass is not half empty. But it's no longer half full. My cup definitely doth not runneth over. It hath not even got wet for eight weeks.

The first month was okay. Fun, even. Lots of people were doing it. Lots of people were talking about it. Money was being raised, blogs were being written. It all felt, a little, well, less tedious than it does now.

I'm in the bit where the novelty has worn off and everyone starts planning the good times, getting ready for the summer and remembering how to enjoy life. The bit when everyone starts drinking and socialising again and I don't. It's okay, I expected all this. I also expected I wouldn't enjoy it. I'm not.

But I do take a certain pleasure in not enjoying things. After all, I was a teenager once. The masochistic, self-denying element feels quite racy. I said before it's like trying someone else's personality on for size. If you live that personality for long enough, do you become it?

I was having a working lunch with my daughter in Costa earlier this week (we were planning how best to approach her mental maths shopping homework ahead of an assault on Sainsbury's), when my brother-in-law strolled by.

We discussed our forthcoming joint family holiday in France. "Looks like I'll be drinking those lovely whites and reds by myself" he said, faintly disappointed.

"Yeah" I said, faintly disappointed. We changed the subject.