A dry month. A productive month


For January 2013 I decided to take a month off the sauce. Heading up to Christmas I saw an advert for the Cancer research “Dryathlon”. One month off the alcohol to earn a few pennies for charity. I hadn’t taken a prescribed period off alcohol since my university days. At uni, the decision was primarily a penny-pinching exercise, which coincided with a busy dissertation schedule. This time round, it was mainly for charity, as well as a mini experiment to see how/if my day to day life would be changed.

First up, some of the simple points.

Ditching the booze did not turn me into a happy morning person. No change there, zombie Nighthawk James prevails. Neither did it suddenly give me glowing, perfect skin; I still suffer the occasional spot outbreak and this is clearly hormones not alcohol! In fact, I can’t vouch for any health related benefits whatsoever to the month’s good behaviour, which doesn’t surprise me. Note however, I am not a heavy drinker by any means, and a big believer in moderation. No big shame, I didn’t do this for any health boost in the first place.

I drink because I enjoy it. I like the taste. I like a nice wine, a solid glass of port (yes, I am actually in my late 60’s, shhh!) or a Jack and coke. It generally helps a little to relax. Once I have had a glass poured, my evening has started and work is over. When you are self employed, a sign post of sorts is of benefit to stop “one-more-email” syndrome. As such, I did find I worked later that perhaps I would usually, most nights in fact.

3 days in, I started to miss that cheeky glass of vino come evening time. I didn’t crave the alcohol, more the sitting back and relaxing it represented. Alas, snacking did start to replace the drink, which I very quickly noticed and put a stop to! Calories are all pervasive, it would seem, the little beggars!

So instead, I found myself doing more.

I found myself finishing off half written songs that have been sitting in limbo for weeks or even months. Video games that were started or still in their wrapper were hit hard and beaten. My kindle has done a good few battery cycles from the extra reading. I found that I had a greater attention span for ‘olde-english’ books, so I am finally making a decent dent in Dickens, after demolishing the Dostoyevsky (yes I know, Russian, but I punted for the translation; judge as you will!)

I think a drink goes hand in hand with minimal activity activities. Namely, television or film. Take out the booze, and I am happier to engage more, to expend that little bit more energy. I think this is largely psychological and I may look to break this as I rejoin the sozzled masses.

A week and a half into the month I had stopped thinking about alcohol. I didn’t miss it as it was not an option. It had been deleted from my system RAM. This fact I like. It confirms that I am nether physiologically nor psychologically addicted to alcohol or its effects. Not that I thought I was, mind!

The main change a sober month brought came with each weekend. It is odd, how ordering a soft drink on a Friday night will garner searching, sometimes judgemental looks from friends, acquaintances, hell, even bar tenders! Without the nullifying wink that comes with a cheeky jangle of the car keys, I was left with nothing but an explanation that “I’m doing a month off the booze for charity”. The mixed reactions played right into my anthropological bent. The mirror effect was particularly prominent. It’s funny how the choices of others can show our own feelings so nakedly without us ever realising.

I am glad I did it. I got a lot done. I saved a few pennies. I earned nice chunk of money for a good cause. I pushed the gym a little harder than usual, beating some personal bests and losing (most) of the Christmas podge.

But it is back to a life of balance now. I have unopened xmas pressies sat in front of me. A bottle of Jack Daniels and Smirnoff Small Batch Black label.