Firstly, and most importantly, and very happily, I learned that I definitely do not have any kind of drink problems. Yay, go me, and woop-de-do etc. Easily deduced by the fact that I did not feel any better for it, and did not feel any worse for it either, in fact I was fairly indifferent to the whole experience. However, I must go back to the beginning of the story for any of this to make sense.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an incredibly heavy weekend of drinking, and it left me feeling utterly drained and weird. I also felt that I couldn't have got away with not drinking that weekend, which is of course ridiculous. But, there was a wedding on the Friday (got to have a drink at a wedding) and a very good friend of mine, who I always go out drinking with, was down from the Thursday night to the Monday. Being fairly well known as a chap who likes a drink, it would, of course, have required an interrogation from anyone who I had answered “No thanks, I'll just have a glass of water thanks” and I am not good at being interrogated. It is easier for me to just say “Thanks very much, I'll have a pint of the most gut-churningly strong cider you can find please”, this is a patently ridiculous state of affairs for anyone. Now, as you may gather from that last bit, I am not one to shy away from a drink, in fact, I like a drink, usually a little too much, but by the end of this weekend, I was positively wishing I was the sort of person who can just say “no thanks, can I have something made entirely of fruit please?”
So I embarked upon an experiment, I decided to spend two weekends not drinking, just to see what happened. As reported above, I felt fine, in fact, I was much more chatty with people I was with, despite my belief that without a drink I am incapable of conversation. Turns out that is not true. I swapped the habitual bottle of wine that lives on the table next to where I sit in the living room for various cartons of fruit juices, and they were quite nice. I did the maths on how much I wasn't spending on booze, and was surprised at how much it worked out at. That is getting donated to an undisclosed charity of my choice (and I would urge anyone reading to do the same, even if you don't do the dry weekends, do the maths and donate what you normally spend in a couple of weekends of drinking to your favourite charity, it's quite an eye opener really). As an exercise in self awareness, it is unbeatable, every time you would normally have a drink, write down what it would have cost you, and total it up at the end of the week. You will wonder why you are spending this money.
I have seen other people I know try to stop drinking for as short an amount of time as two weeks, and some have reported that they feel a whole lot better health-wise, and others have been struck with cravings for booze. The fact that neither of these conditions have affected me has very much led me to the conclusion that drink has no hold whatsoever upon my person, and can be allowed to stay on my list of hobbies, and favourite things to do. Also, my new found discovery that I can be sociable without drinks, and a love of fruit juices, means that those summer afternoons where I have to go and play a gig in the evening will be much more enjoyable again now, as I can still sit outside drinking and talking bollocks with people. Just without the alcoholic content. Total win win situation.
The hardest thing to do, has, surprisingly, been to explain to people why I am not having a proper drink. There have been worried looking faces asking me what's wrong, largely due to my long history of fairly heavy drinking. It is not unreasonable for them to have assumed that my liver has finally packed up. In fact, I did use that very line to my step-daughter when she asked me why I was drinking fruit juices (sorry Rudi, was in no mood to explain this stuff at length that day). As it is, there is nothing wrong with me at all, even less than there was before, when I was fairly sure I was propping myself up with booze. Turns out I am a fully functioning human being, whether with, or without alcohol in my system. Good times. Even the two pints of Thatchers I just had with lunch were merely OK (first proper drink in a fortnight, after a 14 mile walk). Not the godlike relief from the drought that you might expect. Just a couple of drinks, and the cup of green tea I have been drinking while I write this was pretty good too.
By the way, I managed to write about three more pages of my book this week as well, so this is a guilt free blog of a tangential nature. Dave does occasionally write something.
My challenge to the world is this, give up our own personal favourite vice for two weekends, and donate the money you have saved to a charity of your own choice. Whether it be booze, chocolate, shoes, junk food or china ducks, the results may surprise you. Given my immense cynicism of most modern charity collecting, I will not go for nominating certain people, I would even say that you don't have to actually give it up. Just total up how much you have actually spent if you don't, and donate that. To whoever you find deserving, the world will be a better place for it, and you will have learned something. You don't even have to tell everyone what you've done on a social network, you can keep it to yourself and feel good about it if you like. I would have, but I thought it was a good idea that could do some good, and thus I wanted to share it.