As of the end of today, I’ve been off the drink for a month. I’ve also been single for slightly over a year. (It has not escaped my attention that I appear to be willing to give up certain human interactions for longer than I am willing to abstain from strong drink, but we’ll gloss over that, OK?) So in theory, that marks the end of my self-imposed periods of abstinence. Lock up your daughters and your booze cabinets, etc.


I dunno. I’m pretty tempted to remain off the drink. I feel much better for the lack of it, and I’ve really rather enjoyed the fact that getting up before 8am on a Saturday and Sunday is now something that just happens naturally. I get some time to get stuff done before the rest of the world is really moving yet. Honestly, the first two weeks off the drink were very strange, and not entirely without difficulty. I mean, not in an oh-god-I’m-an-alky way or anything, just that because I am a gregarious sort of chap whose meeting place of choice is the pub, I had accidentally fallen into the habit of drinking five or six nights out of seven. Not vast amounts, you understand – just two or three pints. But those pints add up, and I honestly hadn’t realised how habitual they’d been, and how much they were slowing me down until I completely cut them out. But after I’d got past those first couple of weeks, I seem to have broken the habit, and sitting in the pub with a lime and soda no longer feels that odd. And I’m taking more exercise, and finding it more effective, than I was. I’ve just got more energy to burn.

On the other hand, I have parties and holidays and other fun things coming up. And frankly, the sort of person who is the always sober one at parties is someone I have always regarded with a little suspicion. I know that “I choose not to get drunk” does not equate to “I disapprove of drunkenness”, but still: if everyone else is having a drink or three, relaxing and letting their hair down, as it is very definitely psychologically useful to do from time to time, if everyone else buying into the social contract that says “this space is an area where it is OK to do something slightly daft/say something slightly stupid because we’re all drunk”, then it is only natural to feel the person who rejects that group decision is someone who is standing in judgement. I do not wish to be that guy. Also, being the sober one at parties is often boring.

“But why not just be sensible about your drinking, Al?” I hear you ask.

Well, that’s more or less the plan. I’m only going to be allowed to drink twice a week at the very most from now on, and with any luck rather, less than I had been consuming. I’m do not intend to switch from two or three pints five nights a week to fifteen pints one night a week, because I am not a moron. But even having allowed myself that, I think I may attempt not to drink at all a bit more often, so that it’s unusual to see me drinking when down the pub, rather than the reverse.

As for single, well, that’s not exactly something I have such singular personal control over, since it is my experience that relationships are most rewarding when there are two willing participants involved. And since I don’t think I know anyone who is all three of interesting, interested and single (hell, being me, and requiring to be hit about the head before I notice these things, I don’t think I know anyone who is more than one out of three), this looks unlikely to change, but as I was saying the other month, I value my free time on my own, so this really doesn’t trouble me terribly much. I just thought it was worth marking off the finish of the year, just as a personal “goal complete” checkbox.

So there we are. This was your dose of completely self-absorbed narcissism for the day. Next goal, to be attempted after my holiday: cut out caffeine for a while.

On a less me-me-me note: I note that the universe is being rather less nice to a number of my friends than they so clearly deserve. This is obviously shoddy behaviour on the part of the universe. I’m thinking of you, and as ever, if there’s anything I can do, you know where I am.