God it’s like I can’t turn around twice without needing to write about booze again.
I’m not off it completely! But obviously I had to take a break from it in January because December was, as usual, like aversion therapy. Around about the first week of December I have to switch to spirits because wine is too inefficient and in the third week of December I had such a terrible hangover that I couldn’t get out of bed until 10.30am because I thought I was going to be sick. Sick! A vomity hangover! Like I was a teenager.
When you don’t drink for a bit, and the paranoia and the head-whispers have a chance to subside, you do achieve clarity. That bit is true.
I’m not in denial about drink or why I drink, though I am a classic alcoholic – or perhaps classic “drunk” is a better term. I drink in order not to have to have a feeling or emotion I don’t want to have. Chiefly that feeling is boredom, but I will also cheerfully drink to avoid feeling lonely, frightened, anxious, stressed or ashamed. Drink until whatever feeling has gone and then you’re alright.
But. But, but. Alcohol is a jealous mistress. Once she has you, she is not inclined to let you go. And quite soon I find I am not drinking because I’m bored or ashamed or whatever, I’m drinking because she wants me to drink and keep drinking until it’s all gone and then go out and get some more.
And I get barmy delusions of grandeur about it all. I am suddenly like Bernard Black saying: “You know, just sometimes in between the first cigarette with coffee in the morning to that 400th glass of cornershop piss at 3AM, you do sometimes look at yourself and think: ‘This is fantastic! I’m in heaven!'”
It’s why moderate drinking doesn’t happen unless you really are a very together person. My husband is very good at drinking moderately but he has been in therapy for nearly ten years. That’s what it takes.
Listen, I don’t want to suddenly have the air of an evangelical teetotaller about me. But for the first time ever I have not taken one token week off drinking and then piled back in on the 10th, clanking around again with gin bottles in my pocket, bloodstream 25% Ibuprofen and 15% Nytol. The rest ethanol.
This week I had one glass of champagne at a celebratory lunch for something or other and last night I had one tiny glass of red wine with my dinner like a grown-up and that was it.
I could have sloshed the whole bottle down, like the good old days. But I suddenly, with clarity, saw where that would take me and decided not to. It helps that not drinking has, in two weeks, completely changed my face, specifically the dark circles under my eyes and general puffiness.
Not even Kate Moss can mainline white wine for years and look alright so why would I be any different? Anyway vanity has got the better of me. I see now, I see with clarity, what it was all doing to my face.
Of course the problem is the boredom, which is the chief agent of my mild alcoholism; I am not in the middle of a good book at the moment and my husband and I are not watching anything on telly. So the hours between 5 and 8pm really are critical. I am so completely socially and physically conditioned to have a drink at around 6pm and watch the evening slide by that when I am suddenly really extremely present in the moment, it’s hard to know what to do.
When my husband is out I gladly lose myself in that TV show Luther, which my husband doesn’t watch because he just feels too much like they’re “all pretending”.
I had dismissed Luther as quite a boring police procedural thing with Idris Elba being gruff and handsome but in fact it is bonkers. Really really mad stuff with writers who will do anything, say anything, make up any sort of bananas serial lunatic and cheerfully kill off characters left, right and centre if they think it will keep you hooked. A little bit, now I think about it, like alcohol.
And how about you? Where are you in your booze cycle?