Thursday, 28 August 2014

I have not had an alcoholic drink for 8 months

Bavaria Wit Beer 0.0%
“All the calories, none of the fun!”
I’m kinda over it now. If my attempt to stay dry were a mid-Atlantic row, this is the bit where I would be struggling with various existential crises. 
I’ve done the hard part. I’ve got past half way. I’m already thinking about what’s going to happen when I get to the end, but first I’ve just got to get through… this.

And what is this, exactly? What am I trying to prove? What am I not trying to prove? Do I care? Does it matter?

All these questions I will answer in another blog post, because right now I want to talk about the joys of alcohol-free beer. 
Nick Wallis
Photo: A. Wallis
I do not wish to denigrate the service alcohol-free beer provides. When I was on holiday in France, it was nice to be able to return to our villa after a hot day, open the fridge and pop the lid on an ice-cold alcohol-free beer. 

If it were real beer the first would be followed by the second in pretty short order, then perhaps a third or a fourth. But it wasn't and so it didn't. That is what is missing from alcohol-free beer. It's not very moreish.

In fact, I bought twelve "Bavaria" alcohol-free wit (wheat) beers (pictured above) on the second day of our one week holiday. By the end of the week I had three left. I gave them to my brother-in-law who was driving his lot to England whilst we flew. I saw him the other day and he returned two of the three bottles to me unopened. He didn't really like Bavaria Wit 0.0%, and as he is not Not Drinking for a year, didn't see the point.

I don't think I'll be buying any more alcohol-free beer, just as I won't be having a go at any more alcohol-free wines. Back to the water, and the diet coke, and the endless rowing, rowing, rowing...

Monday, 18 August 2014

Completely random kindness

Recently, an article about the dangers of alcohol appeared The Independent and was syndicated to the Times of India.

It was written by Dr Nick Knight, a man I have never met.

An gentleman called Jasmit Chadha in Dubai read this article in the Times of India, and was so taken by its content, he felt moved to find out more about its author.

Jasmit Chadha. What a nice man.
I'm guessing he chose to Google “Nick” and “alcohol", because he ended up on this blog. Putting two and two together and getting at least seven, Jasmit not only decided to send me a complimentary tweet, but also made a donation to the charities I am supporting, saying 

I read ur article on Times of India and it was brilliant! then i stumbled upon the interview. P.S: My dad was a chronic alcoholic. This is for Him :)

Whilst thanking Jasmit for his donation, I politely pointed out that I was not the author of the piece that inspired him to make the donation.

I am pleased to report he was happy to make the donation anyway. 

If you are a random stranger who has landed on this blog by accident and feel moved to part with your money, particularly if you think I am someone completely different - please click here. I promise you your money will go to four very fine causes.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

A note of thanks

Just a quick note of thanks to the charities who are receiving your kind donations.

Despite my raising a relatively small amount of money compared to some people I have met, all four of the charities I am supporting have been in touch over the course of the last seven months. 

Some have been kind enough to read this blog and correspond via twitter and email. It has served as a reminder that there are some wonderful, engaged and enthusiastic people doing great things in the charitable sector, and I am delighted to have been put in touch with them, simply by being a conduit for your cash.

That is the one part of this project where there is only upside.


13 things I have learned

I seem to have fallen into the habit of ticking each month sober off with a blog post. This time around a list of the good things and a list of the bad things.

Good things:

1. I am being slightly more productive. Just. With one less thing to think about and one less drain on my time, I am getting more stuff done. For a freelancer, this is a positive.

2. I have a bit more cash kicking around.  Before this year I'd maybe go out locally one or two nights a month, and up to town once a month. That could add up to £100 quite easily. A hundred extra quid in the kitty per month, and lo, suddenly I have more tech everywhere.

3. I don't just drink for the sake of it. I used to do a lot of this. Have a drink because I'm offered it. Have a drink because there's a cold one in the fridge. Have a drink because it's been a long, long day and I deserve it.

4. I must be healthier. I don't feel it. I haven't lost any weight. I don't feel any more energetic. But there are no physical benefits to taking alcohol, so I must be going through some kind of mild detox.

5. I am doing some reading around the subject and forming a reasonably coherent position on psychoactive drugs. Alcohol is far more damaging than some of the illegal ones. There's an inconsistency there that needs to be addressed. In the long term I think that means making access to alcohol more difficult and legalising some of the other psychoactive drugs. Big change in our culture, but it makes sense.

6. Once you stop using alcohol as a way getting through an occasion, you find other ways to enjoy it. That can mean gravitating towards other people who aren't drinking much/anything and making new friends and connections.

7. Getting home after a night out is an easy, stress-free process.

8. Your mental editor never goes awol, leaving you less likely to type/say something stupid.

Bad things:

1. I'm enjoying music much less. The sort of music I like goes well with alcohol. I'm not sure what good "dry" music is.

2. I do like sitting around and chewing the fat with like-minded people down the pub. I've tried that sober a couple of times this year. It's not the same.

3. The anticipation of seeing good friends and (as my former housemate used to say) "feeling boozy" is sometimes as much, if not more fun than the actual drinking and socialising itself. That's gone.

4. I don't really have an off switch, or a hobby that is so absorbing I can just focus on it and forget everything else. Alcohol is a very good off switch and its capacity to destroy the awareness of time allows you to live, briefly, in the moment. There's a price to pay for that, but sometimes it's worth it.

5. Living outside of the alcohol bubble for a moment does reshape your views. I am always happy to learn, but when you see what alcohol is, the way it's pushed and the way we have welcomed a destructive and insidious substance into our culture it makes you think twice about the wisdom of drinking. Now, knowing what I know, I'm not sure how comfortable I should feel about giving alcohol as a gift or letting my children drink before they're 18. I'm sure when this is over I will remember how to enjoy a cheeky pint, but for a while it will be tempered by knowing that the brief period of release is more than compensated for by the damage it is doing to you both physically and psychologically. At the moment I feel like having a drink is an act of conscious stupidity, not something someone my age should be doing.

That said, we're all going to die anyway, so I'm not going to get too hung up about it.

Happy Christmas!