Recently, I decided to try and go teetotal. In a country where socialising revolves around beer and wine with friends, this makes things rather difficult. Fortunately, my social life is non-existent, so my absence from the bars of the Basque Country will have gone largely unnoticed. Being a hermit has its advantages.
The main battle I faced, therefore, was at home where a delicious Sunday roast, for example, becomes a sad affair when you’re drinking water instead of that lovely Reserva that everybody else is having. I also felt incredibly stupid at the same time, as only my stubbornness was preventing me from joining in the fun and pouring myself a glass... or two.
Even harder at this time of the year, however, was keeping off the whisky. In a bitterly cold week, a shot of Glenfiddich would have been just what the doctor ordered; especially on a bleak Sunday afternoon. As I sat in bed reading about the poor starving miners in northern France (Germinal), I began to experience different pangs of pain altogether.
In the event, I teetotalled for ten whole days and nights, deciding to rejoin my merry friends and family just a couple of days ago. (And boy did that first glass of wine taste good last night!). The Christmas season is now in full swing, with wine, beer and champagne flowing freely, and five-course five-hour lunches and dinners being the norm rather than the exception. Plus, my wife and I fly to the UK on Christmas Day, so there’s no way I’ll be able to resist the temptation to drink proper beer for once.
What, then, possessed me to attempt such a crazy feat? I was curious, that’s why: Would those nasty headaches disappear? (No.) Would I look better? (No.) Would I feel better? (No.) Would my going teetotal allow us to save enough money to buy a second home? (Not yet.)...
But the most important question of all, of course, was simply, Could I stop drinking if I had to? And the answer? Yes, I could. And for that peace of mind alone, the experiment was worth it.
Merry Christmas, everybody – but not too merry, I hope.
Ashley to ashes
Dusty to dust
Simon had wanted to put Roast In Peace, but Janie had persuaded him that it would have been in poor toast, so R.I.P it was. That was probably the last time they had ever agreed on anything. Disaster duly descended: death, depression, drink, demotion, dismissal, Doug, divorce, despair … Simon had always hated words beginning with D.
dayrealing, Chapter 39, “Breakeven”