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The glass is half-dry

January 9, 2016

On an unspecified day in December last year, upon waking with a cracking headache and little recollection of what had happened for at least three hours the previous evening, I made the rash but solemn promise to myself that I would embark upon ‘Dry January’. Later on that evening, whilst chortling over a large Gin and Tonic, I amended that promise to a dryish fortnight, with perhaps the odd glass of wine thrown in when the need arose. And then I realised I couldn’t start from the first of January because I had already organised a Champagne and Oyster Night on the second (my life is unbearably hard sometimes), so together with two other well-intentioned, but sadly deluded friends, we agreed to embark on a ‘fortnight off’ – all vices – from the 4th to the 18th of January.

It seemed pretty simple. We’d start on a Monday, with the intention of still being so hungover from Saturday night’s activities that the last thing we would feel like was an alcoholic beverage. (Mistake 1: Hair of the dog is never so needed when you know you can’t have it.) We thought that by the time Friday rocked around, our bodies would be toxin-free, our minds alert, our energy levels peaking and our determination levels, and willpower, sky-high.

Well, we were wrong. It is 6.30pm on Saturday 9th January, and I would gladly hand over all my worldly belongings for a sniff of something that isn’t lime and soda. It hasn’t helped that I started this enforced sobriety with a cold. A stinking head cold, the kind that doesn’t look too bad from the outside (little snot, minimal mucus) but coated the interior cavities of my brain with a dense, sticky fog, so that I was unable to work, sleep, read, or do much else apart from a fairly spectacular display of moaning, from underneath a mound of blankets on the sofa. To wit, I have been bored. So bored. To the point where I even considered filing my tax return. (That feeling passed.)

I am now ‘well’, but the boredom remains. It’s bearable in the day – I am actually doing adult things now like working, eating, and putting on clothes – but come sundown (or what might count for dusk in these parts if it weren’t already dark by 2pm because of all the sodding rain), my craving for something a little more exciting than a glass of pineapple and coconut juice becomes slightly disturbing.

On Tuesday I hit up the supermarkets for ‘interesting non-alcoholic drinks’. Optimistically, I took a trolley rather than a basket, and then cursed the world that I had to get in a longer queue because I couldn’t take said trolley (with three items in it) through the self-checkouts. I purchased fizzy water, a bag of limes, and some ‘red berry and hot orange’ lemsips, in the vague hope that they might taste a little bit like mulled wine. They do not.

Having discussed the matter with my friends in our What’s App chat group ‘Sobriety Support Clinic’, I was cheered by the rule that it is, indeed, OK to cook with alcohol, as the general principle is that all of the nasty (lovely) alcoholic stuff gets burned off during cooking, just leaving the lovely (middling) taste behind. On Wednesday I made a Spaghetti Bolognese with half a bottle of wine in it. I have the leftovers for tonight, and am worried that there isn’t quite enough for two portions, so thinking I may have to top it up. With wine.

It doesn’t help that my husband has not embarked upon this foolish endeavour with me. Feigning hurt, he asked why he had not been added to the What’s app group. I pointed to the glass of wine in his hand. “Oh I’m not even enjoying it,” he replied, proceeding to not enjoy the remainder of the bottle. What’s worse is that he consistently fails to remember my plight each evening, and, much like Dom Parker in Goggle Box, jovially strolls into the back cabin (our bar) each evening and exclaims “So, what are we drinking?” I have so far resisted the urge to lock him in there, but I am only a week in, and things are getting tense.

Ok, ok, I know I’m being dramatic. I’ve read all of the pisstake articles from the likes of the Daily Mash, that suggest a small army of non-dependent casual drinkers are pretending to have a serious alcohol problem for the month of January, just to get attention, and then feel smug when they complete their ‘feat’. Some are even getting paid by their patient and tolerant friends for the ‘journey’ they are embarking upon. I don’t have an alcohol problem (except not being able to drink any right now – this might be the first blog I’ve written sober). I am being a drama queen.

But I also know that January – officially the most depressing month of the year, in which it rains incessantly, the marina turns into the Somme, my bank balance is one big minus sign, and sodding Easter eggs hit the shelves of Tesco three days after New Year – is not the opportune time to give up something that actually makes life fun, and interesting. Although my body isn’t dependent, my social life is. Sitting on the sofa passing judgement on the BBC’s god-awful period drama is not so much fun when done over a cup of Teapigs Early Grey (yes, I have also bought specialty tea, which is even more expensive than alcohol). The enjoyment derived from a lovely home-cooked meal is marred when in-between mouthfuls of duck and plum sauce you are obliged to sip, not a juicy full-bodied red, but cherry cordial. Even ordering a lime and soda in the pub is depressing – Cambridge pubs will have over a quid off you for that.

That’s not to say that I will rethink my social habits. I fully intend to resume my normal drinking quota come the (stroke of midnight on) 18th January – I don’t wish for Ely Council to regret its decision to install larger glass bottle recycling bins last year. I will however, rethink my rash decision-making process – no sensible life choices should be made when hungover. I have eight more days to go on this fools’ errand, during which time you can find me snarling in the fruit juice aisle in Tesco, or loitering outside the door of the pub, in the hope of catching a whiff of something warming. (Actually, if I wanted that, I should just get on the 7:05am commuter train to King’s Cross.) And no, I don’t want sponsorship. I have a vague intention to bung a twenty quid note in a Cancer UK charity box at some point, to counter what I would have spent (well, at least a portion of what I would have spent – this is January and I have an overdraft) on alcohol over this two weeks. And I won’t get too smug upon completion – it’s hardly Everest. But seeing as I live in the Fens, the flattest part of the country, it is perhaps a small hillock. And on the other side lies a pub. Cheers!

 

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One Comment
  1. I feel your pain, Alex. 🍷😋😋

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