Okay guys, I don’t want to brag, but however much you think you drank this party season just gone – I drank more. Even the two men that read this, (not wanting to be sexist), even if you are 19 stone truckers, I drank more than you in December.
I drank everything. I drank all the wine and all the sherry and all the margaritas. I drank the Manhattans and the Prosecco and the whiskey and the whisky. I drank the mystery punch and the special cocktail. I did shots and knocked back brandies. I drank and drank and drank. The entire of the 18th of December is missing from my memory.
I embarrassed myself once or twice, peed in a bush outside an incredibly smart party because the line for the loo was too long (then ruined the fact that I had got away with this grotesque behaviour by telling absolutely everyone about it, including my hostess and the CEO of Net a Porter, although not at the same time).
I woke up during my month of binge-drinking feeling progressively more and more okay. It was almost like a science experiment; how much can I really drink?
I have never drunk so much, so consistently, over such a long period. My husband was there with me, too, drinking and drinking. In those blurry evenings, I just mostly remember snapshots of him; underside of his chin, that space between his shirt collar and his skin, his tie skewed just so, the white of his eye as he steadied me on my heels, the flash of boiling teeth as he laughed at a joke at a party, the vague murmur of him talking to a taxi driver. My husband can drink and I can drink and together we went fucking mental. We had one terrifying row and that was it. We are good-natured drunks, until one of us isn’t (me) and then … kababoooooom.
But for the most part we got incredibly drunk, talked shite to each other or to anyone who stumbled across our field of vision at a party, then dutifully brushed our teeth and flossed and went to bed. Sometimes we went to bed really quite early (as my son Sam doesn’t give a shit how late you went to bed and will be up at 6am no matter what). Anyway, it was fun! But it’s time to stop. If only to prove that we can, that we are not weak and feeble and in thrall to the bottle.
My husband is such a contrarian that he has in the past not drunk a drop in December and then started drinking again in January. But this year we are just nailed-on cliches and having drunk the world dry in December, we are not drinking during the week for January. But come the weekend… ho ho!!
It’s not easy. By now both of us crave alcohol around about lunchtime with increasing panic until 6pm at which point if we can just hold on until 7pm we’re usually alright. I am mostly writing this so that I do not go and do three shots of vodka. Like I said, it’s not easy.
But I find, along with the actual physical craving for alcohol, is about 75% worth of plain old habit. So at 6pm on the evenings when I am not drinking I construct for myself a glass of plain tonic water with ice and lemon. And it’s working so far. But then it is only 6.20pm. Happy New Year!
Lorraine Tresnak says
I haven’t bought any alcohol not because I’m a boring old fart but because each one of my colleagues bought me a bottle of something for Christmas. I turned 50 this year and I am not joking when I say my desk looked like a bar. I was given three bottles of Jack Daniels to go along with the gin and bottles of fizz. What the fucking hell do people think of me? Lol whatever that is, bring it on, it saves me a fortune! I’ve still got a bottle of Gentleman Jack to open yet!
Happy New Year Esther!
Good luck 🍾🍸🍸(December’s most over-used emojis)
Happy New Year Esther. After a few traumatic events, I stopped drinking for 3 months between mid August & mid November in an attempt to get my shit together – was a surreal experience (I love drinking!) After daily drinking iced Christmas, I’m going back to weekend only drinking tomorrow & agree with you – tonic water with ice & a slice is great to counteract the habitual trigger effects – I love Fever Tree elderflower flavour in tiny tins. Also really embraced ginger ale. It’s great to know we’re all in it together. x
All the best Lee
Certainly not in your league Esther but also know physically that I need to have a break from wine etc Al. The catalyst for me was listening to my husband’s 55 year check up and getting the 3rd degree for his 18 units a week (and he did a dry October) All the time thinking ‘shut bags, I’m going to be in trouble here’ So trying my first dry January and seeing where it leads Even joined a gym as just tipped the scales at 11st I’m a 50 year old Grandma that needs to sort her shit out, here goes xx
I had such great intentions but with half a bottle of leftover champagne in the fridge, I have no choice but to carry on the party! HNY!
Good on you both. For 10 years I have been unable to drink due to a medical issue. I miss it every day. Socialising is mostly keaving early when the fun starts as it’s not hilarious for me. And going to the loo a lot because I’ve drunk so much water. Have fun, steady up and enjoy every last flavoursome sip while you can.
Seedlip is excellent for this: adds a bit of extra interest to the 6pm tonic- I speak from experience as it’s helped get me through dry January before. Good luck.
I was also going to recommend this, especially the spicy one. Doesn’t really taste like a G&T but hits the same spot.
Hi Esther this is the funniest thing you have written and I laughed so much! I don’t do dry January and am having a nice chilled glass of Prosecco.. Happy New Year to you and thanks for making me LOL 😂 😘
I find a nice firey ginger beer/ale (alchoholic free) gives the warm mouth and throat effect of booze when i am desperately trying not to drink or up the duff x
Good luck ya’ll I’ve been dry all for but 5 days of December – except for one glass on Christmas day. It started because I felt ill, then I realised that I lost weight ( apparently 3/4 to an entire bottle of wine DOES indeed contribute to ones calorific intake and therefore , and sadly ones waistline). Driven by this discovery I saw it as a challenge. A knock on is also better sleep, better mood and NO dark circles!!!! I have bought seedlip but so far only had a swig straight from the bottle ( don’t hate me for my class and style, but feel free to copy me, just because you aren’t drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t act like you are😉) but have instead been drinking Pepsi Max on ice as if it’s going out of style. My children get on my nerves from about 10 am but the weight loss gives me strength… Not sure when I’ll return to Messrs Picpoul & de Pinet but I know I will. I wish you all the success in the world, I actually heard that sobor is the new drunk, so as always, you’re bang on trend. X
Michele Brailsford says
Good luck Esther, just on our second bottle of red, Happy New Year to all xxx
I think this is the best post that you have ever written. Really made me laugh. I used to drink loads but now I just can;t deal with the hangovers. Enjoy it whilst you can and thank you – I’m going to have another gin and tonic after reading this. I don;t feel so guilty now!
I don’t drink during the week, buy a bottle of Asti, (I know, I know) on Friday, which lasts until early Sunday. This sounds madly virtuous, it isn’t. I would love to keep gin, rum etc in the house, but if it was in the house I would drink it! I don’t want to get used to having a bracer when I get in from work and then missing it if I don’t have it, having to put mixers on my shopping list etc. I live within walking distance of Glenmorangie distillery, throw a stick in my part of the world and you hit a gin or whiskey emporium.
If it’s not in the house then I don’t miss it or seek it out. I apply this thinking to bacon, sausages, cake, biscuits and ketchup.
Use decent glasses to drink from and treat yourself to really good olives to nibble alongside.
Good luck, Esther. I’m not doing dry January as I had a barely damp December. Cracking on for 52 this year and am finding that my tolerance for alcohol is woeful. Even one glass of something exciting leaves me looking like a farmer’s wife and leads to a hangover from hell. I go for weeks on 0 units with the (healthy looking) drinks cupboard untouched. I like alcohol but it hates me. Is it possible to become allergic to alcohol?
Stuart James says
Who’s the other man? More important – just look after your liver, eh?
Happy New Year, and thanks for writing.
All the best X
I have such a compulsion to “confess” stuff I’ve got away with. Mainly because I like making people laugh. I don’t really drink, though. Being constantly pregnant or nursing for years has left me dry and sober…
Congratulations! We are not doing dry January because it’s too dreary a month, and we do Lent instead, but I do find it soo boring from a taste point of view. I buy good mineral water (Badoit mostly) and lots of lemons and limes and Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial and use the nice water glasses and make a few puddings, since half the dry comedown is sudden sugar deprivation, I reckon. Good luck and make sure what you do drink at the weekend is worth it – better wine than normal, or proper grown-up cocktails.
Whilst I can’t match you for variation drank, I can probably match you for volume. Went to bed sober last night for the first time in AGES and couldn’t sleep. I think the longest I’ve gone without alcohol – since having kids – is almost (a day shy of) three weeks. I try and stop drinking every now and again just to prove to myself that I’m not an alcoholic. The biggest threat to me failing dry January is the fact that my kids don’t go back to school ’til the 8th … these dry Jan promoters didn’t take that into the equation, did they?
Fever tree ginger ale and a dash of lime is my go-to teetotal drink. My fucking gallbladder has decided to implode so I’m not just dry (coz of liver inflammation) I CAN’T FUCKING EAT. This is not the fucking new year I had planned.
yes but you will lose 2 stone
So they tell me. But I’m fucking famished
I love this post. My husband has been dry for two years since November so alcohol lost it’s fun for me a long time ago. He wasn’t a constant drunk or a mean drunk, but he was a binger who used to do fucking stupid things when chasing oblivion. When someone is breaking your heart with their antics you end up disliking alcohol.
I can scarcely drink anymore. Anything beyond a glass and I begin to feel ill – almost a hangover as I’m drinking. Liver function tests came back clear but I feel almost allergic to booze so I wonder if it’s some crazy psychological response. In my head, drink made bad things happen, almost led to divorce, so it’s poison. But it’s not just in my head. Drink makes me feel awful as soon as it hits my bloodstream.
I used to love a drink: Lovely champagne, gin & tonics, oily and chilled with a slab of lime, resinous Rieslings slipping down my throat, all gone to ashes. I eke out a glass of red and leave parties when people begin to shout as drunk people make me uneasy. It’s my husband again. It’s the panic of unreliability, even in people who aren’t my friends or kin.
I asked my husband “where did I go?” on NYE as I didn’t recognise this girl, tired and sober at 10.30pm, sloshing her champagne down the sink and replacing it with fizzy elderflower so people don’t get offended at you not having fun. And I miss drinking with him. Bottles of champagne to celebrate, glasses of red together in the kitchen, parties together running at the same speed.
My husband gets away with it as he’s the token Dry, the noble one. The novel experiment who’s still sticking to it but could go boom at any time and fall into a case of claret, like Clarence.
But I’m the almost-drinker, used-to-be-fun. I can’t go dry too as that would make us the most boring couple on the planet, so I have to plough on, with my timid glass of red, on the edge of liverish, perpetually saying “I’ll finish this one first” or “I’ll have another one in a minute”. God it’s so boring. For everyone.
Good luck with the dry January. You’ll do it with bells on, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. I enjoyed reading about your explosive December. It really sounded fun.
Bittersweet post X
It’s not boring for everyone, Tess. Some people like to pull others in with them so they don’t feel self conscious about their choices, or they’re just drunk and repeating themselves – the point is everyone has their own hang ups and no one really cares about yours, or has to live with them, so you have to do what’s best for you. Drinking can equal fun if you enjoy it, but it does not follow that sober equals boring. There is nothing duller than someone pressing alcohol on you when you don’t want it, NOTHING. I am sure you are witty and entertaining without it, as you are in print. It’s like Dumbo’s magic feather; you just think you need it. I’m sorry you’ve had a bad time xx
Tess!!! This is so great. Thank you for taking the trouble to write this for us.
I have been thinking all day of what to say to you, Tess, and of course other Spikers have said most of it for me, but I want to add, embrace your ‘almost drinker’; don’t be timid and apologetic, say ‘no, thank you, I won’t have another, it will make me feel awful’ or if they are being tiresomely pressing, ‘I get boring and repetitive when I’ve had too much’. And as I suggested to Esther, I’m sure it’s the sugar that keeps one awake when drinking. Can you still get those glucose tablets? Or just have another, guilt-free, slab of pudding. And hugs, because it sounds like it has been a shitty ride. xxx
Thank you, Spikers, for replies. I have resolved to be less timorous and state plainly “I won’t have another as it makes me feel awful”.
As to the awful ride, it has lost its sting over time, although there is that crack in the vase…
Hi Tess, am in exactly the same boat, husband gone to zero about two years ago, which was a relief in so many ways (nothing terrible, but he was unable to do anything without looking for the next opportunity to drink), but it’s left me a bit lost. I loved the Christmas rituals and ceremony of champagne, martinis, Irish coffees, which have now all gone. I’m not doing it by myself.
Alcohol is a terrible and wonderful thing. Best wishes to you x
Oh I know this new life. The relief of my husband not drinking is a literal weight from my shoulders – I never knew I was carrying that burden of low-level panic until it was gone and lifted – but I miss small things. Alcohol is intimate, or can be, when it’s not smashing the shit out of your life, and I mourn the fact that we’ll never have glass of champagne together again; no French 75’s together, officially the best drink in the world.
Agree that it is the best and worst of things. Best wishes to you too. x
Dear Tess I know exactly how you feel, and you said it so eloquently. I’m afraid years of this has broken us completely and we are about to separate. Children have grown up and witnessed the behaviour over the years so not too much family devastation. I’m just very sad. Much love to you and all the Spikers. I’m hoping in 2018 I might rediscover the joy of a drink without being on edge about someone else’s behaviour. Xx
Good luck in the future Kathy, I can’t imagine anything you’re going through is easy x
Thanks Nichola, it’s been a long time coming. Xx
Best of luck, Kathy I hope you find joy everywhere in 2018. x
Lost its fun, not it’s.
Love the need to correct this…
Lesley Somerville says
I used to drink more when I was young but the older I get the less I need/want a drink. Which is fine. I don’t equate it with being boring and I don’t feel the need to apologise. My sister was married to an alcoholic – a very happy but ultimately boring drunk he was, always the life and soul at parties but useless at being a reliable father or husband. It just gets old.
Great piece of writing. Makes you feel thirsty after in the same manner as a Kingsley Amis novel. Good luck with the tonic xx
How do you know if youve got the first signs of liver disease? Any doctors out there?
I’m doing dry January and so far it’s bullshit. I keep getting up in the night to wee all the time (the slight dehydration kept it at bay before), and sod clear skin – I’ve got the most enormous spot on my chin. Plus my glass of wine was the thing that kept me going all day – I’ve got NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO. But my husband has promised to do an unironic declaration of love on Facebook if I manage it and that’s my motivation- he’s going to look like such an almighty prick…
Crap i am also being virtuous and trying to do dry January but just eaten Nana’s M&S cherry liqueur chocolates which where strangely hideously addictive!!
Were instead of where…. bad spelling due to cherry liqueur.
cherry liqueurs are incred
M&S cherry liqueurs are rather alcoholic I seem to remember. Divine.
Love this post. I’m also attempting No Drinking in the Week…although so far this week I’ve had a stubby (well I didn’t realise it was a weekday with it being the day after New Year’s Eve…and it’s only a stubby, which doesn’t really count) and 3 glasses of prosecco tonight (a toast to mark the end of the first day at a new job).
However…no alcohol yesterday. Yay! Proving I’m not an alcoholic, managing to steer clear of ethanol the night before a new job.
Bring on next week when I promise to try much harder.
Happy new year all. Cheers (to the weekend)! x xx
It’s so unfair-you are so slim for the amount you say you drink. I put on so much weight when I drink and the fact I turn into a mental head-need to stop! Keep us posted on your progress.
Carolyn if you consume almost ALL of your daily calories from alcohol, you don’t put on weight…
Bluddy love those M&S Cherry Liqueurs!
C Bilton says
Just caught up with this, very funny. I’m approaching 50 and I too just can’t drink like I used to. And boy do I love a g&t, and a cold white, and a this and a that. I think I look like I’ve had a drink noe, ten years ago bit of foundation and everything was fine. Sad times.
This post is one of your best,ever, and the comments and replies are both serious and funny. Being past menopause means I can no longer down two bottles of red and get up bright and happy at the crack of dawn with not a trace of a hangover. My stomach does not seem to like alcohol all that much anymore,so I am sticking to fewer glasses as that means fewer hours stuck in the bathroom, ha ha. But I do miss that fuzzy feeling when you’re right on the verge of having had one too many but yet manage to balance on that edge while feeling in love with the world and everyone in it…
Philippa Hutchinson says
Even better is tonic and pink peppercorns. It’s gorgeous, almost like a real drink, esp if you put a slug of angostura bitters in, but then strictly speaking it’s not completely non-alc. But just the peppercorns is fine.
A bit late now but I recommend putting pink peppercorns in tonic with a bit of ice and, if not being super strict about alc, a splash of angostura bitters. Delicious and pretty and you can eat the peppercorns.
Oh dear, I seem to have sent this twice. It’s the peppercorns, they rot the brain.
I always suspected as much