I’ve got the off-the-booze blues
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 Because I had a slight hangover caused by the rather too enthusiastic celebration of the fact that the number six has been replaced by the number seven in the top right-hand corner of this page, I had no desire to indulge.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.”