Polly Ver­non

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

AT PRE­CISELY the WRONG mo­ment – the end of booze- free na­tional en­deav­our Stop- to­ber, and the be­gin­ning of the Christ­mas wino pe­riod – I find my­self over­whelmed by a vi­o­lent de­sire not to drink. Glass of free cham­pagne on ar­rival at an event? Oh God, must I? Ca­sual mid­week pop-to-the-pub? You can’t make me! Take­away + a bot­tle of Cré­mant round a mate’s? WHAT FRESH HELL…?

In­vites roll in for nights out, boozy lunches, The Last Wed­ding of 2018; all I can think is: wine hurts, peo­ple! Where once I saw it as a fresh bot­tle of chill, a gate­way to silly joy, a dis­in­hibitor of flir­ta­tion, now, sud­denly, I see only next-day grog­gi­ness coated in shame, gar­nished with a strong de­sire to eat carbs. So­bri­ety is com­ing for me. It’s com­ing hard.

Not for the first time, ac­tu­ally. I’ve dipped in and out of it dur­ing the last few years. The re­al­i­sa­tion grog messes with my face ( puff­ing it up, pulling it down) mul­ti­plied by the re­al­i­sa­tion it also messes with my pro­duc­tiv­ity and, by ex­ten­sion, fi­nances, tar­nished my 20-year love af­fair with be­ing quite squiffy, quite of­ten. Ev­ery once in a while, I do the thing I’m build­ing up to now: I give al­co­hol a rest for a month, or three.

It’s no straight­for­ward process, mind you. If life with­out booze calms you down and lev­els you out, it also ex­poses ugly things, like the cracks in friend­ships that you used to dis­guise by be­ing sloshed. You don’t re­alise how many peo­ple you need to be drunk to be around, un­til you stop drink­ing around them.

So­bri­ety (in the non-re­cov­er­ing-al­co­holic) also makes peo­ple think you’re an arse. Right­eous, su­pe­rior, judge­men­tal. I am none of th­ese things (well, if I am, it’s not on ac­count of part-time so­bri­ety), but try telling that to peo­ple I refuse to get soz­zled with. It was bad enough be­fore lily-liv­ered scaredy-waredy Mil­len­ni­als em­braced so­bri­ety as an­other of their many Defin­ing Things (see also: di­etary in­tol­er­ances, telling off their el­ders, stick­ers), but now they have… The pos­si­bil­ity peo­ple will as­sume my so­bri­ety’s in­spired by some­thing some 26-year-old posted on Buz­zfeed about how he’s a proud mem­ber of Gen­er­a­tion Sober is high. (Side-note: has any de­mo­graphic in the his­tory of de­mog­ra­phy ever en­joyed nam­ing it­self quite so much?)

The other cru­cial thing about so­bri­ety? Life, un­drunk, is not as fun. Nowhere near. But I am about to start liv­ing it any­way. Maybe not to­day, maybe not to­mor­row, but soon and for the rest of this win­ter (min­i­mum). My sub­con­scious is do­ing an in­ter­ven­tion on my life­style, and there’s no ar­gu­ing with it. Trust me, for I have tried.

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