I’ve got the off-the-booze blues

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES/ -

This is day five of my tra­di­tional Jan­uary no al­co­hol pe­riod, when I get in touch with my Jewish roots by sip­ping lemon teas rather than G and Ts. Mon­day worked out just fine. Be­cause I had a slight hang­over caused by the rather too en­thu­si­as­tic cel­e­bra­tion of the fact that the num­ber six has been re­placed by the num­ber seven in the top right-hand cor­ner of this page, I had no de­sire to in­dulge.

How­ever, a few days on, and I am be­gin­ning to doubt the wis­dom of my regime. I know that binge-drink­ing is the cur­rent scourge of the na­tion and that liver dis­ease is fore­cast to wipe out an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of Bac­ardi Breezer abusers. How­ever, I don’t re­ally fall into that cat­e­gory. My aim in cut­ting out the glass of wine in the evening and the beer or two in week­ends, is merely to give my body a break af­ter the Win­ter­val fes­tiv­i­ties, to lose a cou­ple of latke- and dough­nut-in­duced pounds and to ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle of the clar­ity of mind which my Diet Coke-sup­ping co-re­li­gion­ists claim to pos­sess all the time.

How­ever, para­dox­i­cally, I am be­gin­ning to feel that there is some­thing un-Jewish about giv­ing up al­co­hol for a month. Af­ter all, the im­per­a­tive to purge one’s body for ex­tended pe­ri­ods is a very Chris­tian one (think Lent) but this kind of pro­longed ab­sti­nence is not re­ally part of the Jewish re­li­gion. When we have a fast, it lasts for just over 24 hours and in­volves a very large meal be­fore and af­ter. So if I was go­ing to give up al­co­hol in a Jewish fash­ion it would surely be more ap­pro­pri­ate to have a bot­tle or two of red in the hour be­fore dusk and a large Scotch as soon as three stars ap­pear in the sky the fol­low­ing evening.

Then there is the prob­lem of Shab­bat. How is one ex­pected to bring in the holi­est day of the week with­out at least a sip or two of Pal­win (is this com­ing across as sin­cere)?

I have also been won­der­ing about the clar­ity thing. In the past few days I have re­alised that while it is a dis­tinct ad­van­tage to have a clear head at break­fast time (and you can even make a case for it at lunchtime), there is a lot to be said for a lit­tle foggy-head­ed­ness in the evenings.

In fact there are cer­tain things it is quite hard to un­der­take with­out hav­ing a drink first. For ex­am­ple, de­spite my love of cricket I have not been able to con­tem­plate the Ashes high­lights since I re­frained from the booze, and I am cur­rently find­ing Noel Ed­monds pretty tough go­ing as well.

Al­co­hol also helps to dull the fear of global warm­ing. With a drink in my hand I find it much eas­ier to face the fact that no amount of putting plas­tic con­tain­ers into my re­cy­cling bin seems to make any dif­fer­ence to the rate at which the glaciers are melt­ing. Then, there is the puz­zling and trou­bling fact that my heat­ing bills are much higher now than a few years ago when the weather was cooler. In­deed, it is slightly un­nerv­ing to open any of the util­ity bills at the mo­ment with­out the ben­e­fit of a small aper­i­tif.

The in­for­ma­tion that our mouse and his en­tire fam­ily has re­turned to our store cup­board is also much eas­ier to as­sim­i­late af­ter a cock­tail or two (I com­fort my­self with the fact that the mice have been con­sum­ing bis­cuits which I know to con­tain trans-fats and there­fore they will prob­a­bly die young).

Of course, there are other ways to re­lieve the stress I have been feel­ing — go­ing to the gym and kick­ing the dog for ex­am­ple — but drink­ing is more fun (and cheaper) than gym mem­ber­ship and I don’t have a dog.

I do still need to lose a lit­tle weight but per­haps on re­flec­tion I should try di­et­ing the Tommy Cooper way. “I’m on the whisky diet,” he mem­o­rably said. “So far I’ve lost three days.”

Si­mon Round

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