I’m sure it was Pierce Brosnan who said that getting drunk was a marvelous way to spend time. And it is…well it was. For me it was. I salute you, James Bond. And yes, cheers.
Cheers. If only it was all as simple as that.
Apparently, there is always a thing that causes you to stop drinking. A trigger. For me it was a night in hospital after falling down some stairs. Completely loaded. Somehow there was no lasting damage to me as a result. I guess I was lucky.
I’d spent a lot of my life before this in pubs. I loved pubs. I loved the banter…the people…the whole set up. I loved how they can be sedate meeting places at lunchtime, and rowdy hellfire clubs in the evening. And sure, I loved the drinking. Hitting that point where everything is great and you wouldn’t be anywhere else with anyone else, anywhere.
Of course, over time, your fellow barfly numbers diminish. Some move away. Some get married and settle down.
Sure, new gunslingers appear on the scene. But ageing results in the law of diminishing returns kicking in. Anticipation begins to exceed the actual. You find yourself chasing the good time, like the gambler chasing his bets. I don’t think I was ever an alcoholic. I was probably, and still am to an extent, a hedonist. And it just didn’t seem to be as much fun as it was anymore. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now. There’s a lot to say here, and I’m sure I’ll write some more in the future focusing on other avenues and alleyways. For the sake of this little piece, suffice to say, boozing was starting to lose its appeal the older I became. And before I move on, I need to say that I don’t think I could have quit drinking while I was still working. And there’s no way I’d have got through lockdown without the slosh. For me, it all happened just as the country emerged from its Covid cocoon. And, as that is approaching two years ago…that’s no booze for nearly two years, it was clearly the time to quit the damn stuff.
Newly encountered sobriety deserves a discussion all of its own. For the sake of this piece, the two biggest effects I encountered were clarity and boredom, and they don’t always go together too well. The days last that much longer too which, at first, are a serious challenge. Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of boredom, which combined with the new super-power of seeing everything…apparently…clearly, can leave you craving to do something…anything. It can be overwhelming. My redemption was my debut novel I’d written largely during lockdown. The wonderful Diana Jackson at Eventispress had agreed to publish it, so I had stuff to do. I think this kept me away from the demon drink in the early days, so thank you for quite literally everything Diana.
And after a while the weight starts to drop off. Slowly at first before it gathers momentum. Tying shoelaces no longer ranks as a burden. Doctor’s appointments become more positive. All my crappy ‘fat’ clothes were now miles too big. So, I threw them away. The following March my book was published. My narrator Jack liked a drink. Good for him. I’d been sober for ten months.
I still met buddies, but it was difficult. They tried meeting me in coffee places, but I could see it wasn’t really their thing. I can do a few hours in the pub drinking zero-alcohols, but it’s hard after a while. Of course, we remain in contact, but the reality is that my pub days with them are over. Most of the people I see nowadays can’t imagine me in my previous skin…which is a scream.
And then I met a lady, in Southwark Park of all places. We were at the beginning of the queue to see the Queen lying in State. I’ve written about that day before. Terri would not have found my previous persona an attractive proposition. She doesn’t drink and is very health conscious. And I wouldn’t have lasted the fourteen hours it took in my previous state of health. My knees thank me every morning for shedding the five stone alcohol diet weight. Terri lives in Oxfordshire, so I now spend most of my time with her in Oxfordshire. And there’s no pub memories over there. She’s there for me now.
I would like to think, God willing, I’ve still got a third of my life to look forward to. And we are looking forward with high hopes.
I guess I’ve been lucky.