What’s scarier than finding out your mum has been reading your recovery blog, full of nasty stories about what a twat you’ve spent your whole life being?
But it’s cool. I spoke to her on the phone, and the good news is she supports the blog and understands why I write it. There was the initial jolt of HOLYFUK MY SON IS A MONSTER CALL THE FIRE PEOPLE AND THE ZOO KEEPER AND A PRIEST AND EVERYONE WHAT HAVE I DONE WHAT HAVE I DONE but it’s fine.
It’s been a huge couple of weeks for this here shitty blog wot i rite, which is great if everyone knows about your questionable past – but not so great if they don’t. It’s a bit like James Bond being presented a ‘greatest spy’ award at some glamorous televised ceremony. Simultaneously great to be recognised, but very fucking bad for anyone in the espionage business.
James Bond. That’s basically me. Probably in his slightly camp Roger Moore phase though.
My biggest barriers to COMING OUT about my wanky booze blog have always been my family (specifically the ‘rents), and my colleagues and bosses at work. It’s been a genuine worry for the last few years that people’s view of me will change based on the stories of my drunken past – and what I don’t want is upset parents, or workplace whispers: there goes that dickhead from Huddersfield wot shat himself in a pub. I chose to write and publish this shit so I can’t really complain if people read it, but it’s a thin line I’ve been walking.
The problem with trying to keep things hidden from people is that you can never really flourish. You can’t shout something from the rooftops if there are people you don’t want to hear you – and it’s for that reason that I chose to go to the CEO of the company I work for and tell her all about my blog. No more secrets, no more barriers. Luckily, and actually unsurprisingly given she’s a bit of a ledge, the boss was mega supportive – and has even gone out of her way to offer some great advice on taking this whole SoberPunks thing to the next level.
I was also going to tell my mum, but she found out about the blog before I got the chance. I just hope she hasn’t read the vodka orange blog post yet…
With everything out in the open it suddenly felt like a MASSIVE weight had been lifted, and I spent the next couple of days getting some huge plans in motion:
SoberPunks Live Event – Plans are still in the early stages, but with the support of the lovely people at Club Soda I am looking to stage the first ever SoberPunks live event in September this year in a grotty venue in Manchester (grotty i.e. in keeping with the general vibe of my smelly blog). Tentatively titled Rampage To Recovery it will be a chance to hear some of the downright grittiest and nastiest stories of drunken tomfoolery right from the mouths of the people that lived it, and the way in which they turned things around. I’ve already got some exciting speakers lined up, and the event will be open to anyone wanting to attend – whether it’s people in recovery, people considering cutting back on drink, or just people who want to hear some fucking minging stories about pub fights and broken bones and self-weeing incidents. There’ll also be loud music (of course) and hopefully a chance to sample some of the best alcohol-free beers on offer. Proper beers may also be available depending on the venue; I’m all about inclusivity dude – even if the spell checker does put a squiggly red line under it.
SoberPunks at the House Of Commons – So this was a biggie, and came about all very suddenly. The week before last I was on the phone to the lovely Laura Willoughby MBE – co-founder of Club Soda – and she mentioned that they were going to the House Of Commons to raise the issue of confusing labeling rules when it comes to alcohol-free drinks. Basically, in the UK we have to label them as low-alcohol, whereas those made elsewhere – for example Becks Blue made in Germany – can be labelled as alcohol free. This confuses bars and stockists, which leads to them choosing not to stock them, which then leads to your booze-struggling man on the street having to choose between getting ribbed for drinking Pepsi on a stag-do, or just throwing the whole thing to hell and getting plastered on beer with the rest of ’em. I was invited along as a living example of someone who benefits from the availability of alcohol-free variants, which is something I was very cool with.
A lot of good things came from my visit to the HOC – namely: I got to finally meet a few of my fellow booze-bloggers face-to-face, which was AWESOME. I also got to meet the legendary guys from Rok Soba – a biker clothes label created by two bearded brothers and built around the sober lifestyle. One other unexpected pleasure was that I got the chance to meet the inspirational blogger and writer Clare Pooley – author of The Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living.
There was also a very slightly embarrassing bad thing that happened. A friendly little bespectacled guy, possibly one of the aides (is that a thing? I’m not very politics. Assume it’s not spelled AIDS?) was chatting to me over a couple of bottles of alcohol-free G&T. I told him a bit about the blog, and after piquing his interest decided to whip my phone out and show soberpunks.co.uk to him. I selected a random old blog and quickly scrolled through, landing on the pic from this blog of a shopkeeper above the caption ‘Not today thanks Mr Patel. Instead I’m going to go home and have a big wank.’ Oops.
Wanking faux pas aside, it all went rather swimmingly. You can read a great little article about it here.
It’s awesome being able to suddenly have the freedom to put my blog about, and stand proudly as someone who has gone from a debilitating party-hard lifestyle to a position where I can stand about in Parliament talking about wanking. There’s no one left to hide from, and the feeling is pretty fucking exhilarating. It’s good to feel free, man.
If you’re in a similar position to where I was, and you’re contemplating COMING OUT, then believe me I do understand how daunting the prospect can be. There are two main reasons that I would say go for it though:
- Be proud. If anyone has a problem with who you really are then FUCK those guys. You don’t need people like that in your life. Obviously don’t actually fuck them.
- It all adds extra weight to your accountability. The more people who know, the less likely you are to fall off of that wagon. Trust me.
It feels like things are really starting to take shape in the world of SoberPunks. Sober life has a way of leading you on amazing journeys that you would have never undertaken if you were still stuck in the cycle of drink->hangover->drink->hangover. I had a moment when I was on the tube, heading towards the Houses Of Parliament, and I suddenly thought ‘Hang on! What the fuck am I doing here?’ and the absurdity of the whole thing put a big smile on my face, which seemed to really unnerve this group of Chinese women stood next to me.
Finally today, I just wanted to say a huge thanks for all the lovely support I’ve had on this journey so far. It’s only the beginning! Look out for tickets for the Manchester event, and in the meantime if you want to support SoberPunks you can do it by buying one of my fancy new T-shirts here. Wear it loud and proud! Or just use it to mop up spilled waz. Whatevs.
Wanna read my big wanky blog from the start? Click here.
Show us some fuckin’ love by buying yourself a lovely SoberPunks T-shirt here.