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.