Sans ale, sans wine, some Christmas cake

Well I promised an update now and again on this driest of dry adventures so here are my findings after the first week of DryJanuary.

Actually, I’m not sure if I can tell you what it feels like to go without a drink for a week due to being full of a cold. It feels a bit like being asked to describe what bread tastes like having only ever eaten Marmite sandwiches. The cold may be masking the true experience, I don’t know. What is clear, but difficult to understand, is that I have found it remarkably easy to refrain from drinking for seven days.  All previous attempts at cutting back or abstaining have met with limited success or even abject failure. A typical scenario would run like this:

1. Pour the last of the bottle of red that was started with the Sunday roast and resolve to make it the last drink for the next four days. Well three at least. OK let’s not get ambitious, we’ll see how it goes.

2. Wake up Monday morning full of resolve and confidence.

3. 9pm Monday and an argument breaks out in my head. “One glass wouldn’t hurt.” “But it won’t be one glass will it?” “Well even if it was two it’s not unhealthy.” “But you’re supposed to be taking a break.” “You’re right, I’ll leave it alone.”

4. 9:30pm, “Oh sod it I’ll have a dry night tomorrow.”

5. Go to bed feeling like a failure.

It wasn’t always like that I should add. There have been successes. Even periods of months when two or three nights would be restricted to nothing stronger than tea with one or two milk chasers. The point I am making here is that it has always been a challenge to refrain. Yes I have done it but it has never been easy. This time, for some reason it has been easy. Very easy.

I can put my hand on my heart and say that in the last seven days I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol and I haven’t missed it either. I’m really hoping that the very boozy Christmas cake that our friend kindly made for us doesn’t count. So what is going on? What is different about this time?

Setting the cold aside, because I really do think that is a red herring, I believe that the reason I haven’t been in the least tempted to have a drink is because I went public with my intentions. You see all the debates and fights I have had previously have been with myself. Let’s face it, you are hardly likely to deal a knockout punch in a fight with yourself are you? It’s just too easy to cheat when there is no one but yourself to point the finger. I think that from the moment that I hit ‘publish’ on that blog post last week I cracked the problem. The idea of not completing the challenge is just too embarrassing to contemplate and my whole mind set has been dictated by that public declaration. No demons have come to argue with me in my head because they know it is futile.

I’ll never know for sure but maybe cycling 4,500 miles around the coast of Britain might be a factor in all this. Perhaps that public declaration of intent has taught me something.

I once read on Al Humphries’ web site that the best way to overcome the obstacles to an adventure is to decide what it is you want to do and then make it public. Shout out your intentions from the highest mountain, or blog about it, and it will happen. It has to. You are committed. That’s how I feel about this challenge, committed. That’s how I felt about the bike ride.

I’m not so naive to think I have cracked it with three and a half weeks to go but I am pretty confident. Hopefully, next week when my cold has cleared up, I should be in a position to let you know what bread tastes like without Marmite. I’m sure it’s delightful.

The odds may be high but I am confident of the winner.

The odds may be high but I am confident of the winner.


5 thoughts on “Sans ale, sans wine, some Christmas cake

  1. Bravo, Tony – actually your previous post inspired me to join you in spirit (or in water more like) in giving it a go, having, like you, had some difficulty lasting more than three days in the past without a nice drink. Having absorb a lake’s worth of booze over the holidays, I thought a break might do me good, if only to combat increasing portliness..
    Sets one thinking about our various and varied reasions for drinking, in my case mostly convivial and sociable, or as a reward for a good bout of exercise, or after a hard day. I’ve also always been 100% proof against alcohol, could outlast the rest, never get a hangover, still chirpy in the morning, same 7 am bounce why stop? Well, mainly to see if I can, and to be able to judge if I really am addicted, and whether psychologically or physically, and also because of a degree of escalation in latter years.
    I’ve never really missed it on expeditions where alcohol was simply not there, or if the only stuff available was rubbish booze (I’m quite choosy), but come wine o’clock when I’m tired and a bit hungry, and I know there is a cellar full of nice tasty wine, it’s hard to resist one of life’s simpler pleasures.
    I have to confess that I didn’t start until Sunday, as we had we had a bunch of very pleasurable social engagements, where toasting the New Year was de rigeur, and refusing champagne would have been not just churlish, but frankly bonkers.
    So – this is day 4, the hardest so far. 1 to 3 was easy enough, but tonight I could have murdered a decent glass of wine. Don’t like soft drinks or juice (too sweet), but straight tonic seemed to help.
    So far I don’t feel magically renewed, rather more tired and slightly depressed, though that could well be just post festivity blues.Sleep is no different yet, and I’ve discovered that I drop off in front of the telly sober just as well as I do after a couple of glasses. However, the clothes are marginally looser, and your post arrived at the right moment to motivate me to stick it out, if only to see if I can form a new habit of less frequent drinking. To this end I shall volunteer to drive on Friday when we go out with friends. But right now this seems like a long week….perhaps I should get Anthony to give me his cold!

    • Brilliant Jan, the thought that I may be inspiring others to take up this challenge is fantastic. Stay strong, I’m sure it will be worth it in the end. As for being a couple of days behind me, I am looking at the month as a thirty one step staircase. You are just behind me so don’t stop now and I will see you at the top for a small celebration.

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