There’s a lot written about the benefits of sobriety. Indeed, I’m personally responsible for contributing towards this ever-growing pile of woolly guff; endless reams of words spewing from laptops all over the world, about how stopping drinking will clear up your spotty skin, and help you lose 5 stone in 3 months, and turn you from debt-ridden scum into a highly respected business magnate overnight. There’s the health benefits, the financial benefits, the brain-sharpening benefits, the depression-killing benefits. Being sober will help you to work harder, to shag better, to live longer, and to look handsomer (it’s a real word, I googled it). People have published books about this shit. They’ve made TV programmes and podcasts. Businesses have been founded, and are now thriving, which focus solely on sharing the good word of sober living. It’s like a magic pill that fixes everything! Everyone in the world of sobriety wants to shout about their new lifestyle, their new look. HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT WHAT SOBRIETY CAN TURN YOU INTO! LOOK AT MY SUITCASE OF MONEY! CHECK OUT MY SOFT HAIR! But let’s not forget, amidst this pink mire of yoga trousers, ultra-marathon runners, and vegan cookbooks, one of the most primal and basic benefits that quitting drinking can bring; the one benefit that is quite often the catalyst for a lifetime of sobriety. That one golden nugget for which we all strive, and which only sobriety can truly bring us…
About five years ago, when I was still gigging with my turbo-messy techno punk band Petrol Bastard, we scored a gig at some big freezing-cold warehouse in Liverpool (I think it was Liverpool anyway. Dunno. Was drunk). From hazy memory I recall it being a total washout; maybe ten people in attendance, all rattling around in a room the size of an aircraft hanger. And most of them were probably only there because they were DJs or bar-staff, so in actual fact there were probably only two or three paying punters there, but fuck it – what did I care? We were getting paid, I was wankered on lovely cheap booze and nothing else mattered. Begone, peasants. I’ll make my own fun. It was a standard shit gig for us, which seemed to account for about 70% of all gigs, so nothing exceptional or exciting. Until, that was, I spotted a familiar-looking guy with piercings and a short spiky mohawk, unpacking a load of t-shirts and CDs onto a table by the back wall. Continue reading
I drank my last drink, a huge plastic bottle of cheap French red wine, three years ago. Over the last 1000+ days since then I’ve learned a lot about getting sober, both from my own experiences, and also by squidgy osmosis through other people’s experiences – absorbed from the many books and blogs I’ve read on the subject, and conversations I’ve held with other ex-fuckheads. Continue reading
The first sobriety milestone most problem drinkers hit is 1 day. Then you hit 1 week, then 1 month, then 100 days, and then the first real biggie is 1 year. After that they lose a bit of meaning as the novelty falls away, and you’re left in a weird sort of booze-free purgatory; a strange coffee-scented realm which exists between the pink clouds of your new exciting sobriety, and your inevitable grey, sober, lonely DEATH. Slowly it dawns on you; the acceptance that this is your life now. I’ve got no facts or figures to back it up (fuck pie charts and proper research, right?) but I’d imagine this 1 year mark to be the point at which a lot of people start jumping off the wagon.
Not many males, at least according to my Facebook feed at the weekend, are fans of Royal weddings. Some blokes, unhappy with the option of simply not watching the wedding of Harry and Meghan, have even gone out of their way to prove how anti-Royal-wedding they are. Banners have gone up, and anti-Royal rants have been scatter-gunned across social media, and that’s all fine. I know there are politics involved here, what with the spending of taxpayers money versus the tourism trade the Royals bring in. It’s not a debate I want to get into, or care enough about to discuss, but it’s one that rages on nonetheless. So, given my general disinterest in the whole thing, I was quite happy with the idea that I might have it on the telly in the background, but would also gladly miss the entire thing pending motivation to hit the climbing wall, or go shopping, or grind through some more matches on NHL 18 on my dusty PS4. Continue reading
In my world, in my little corner of East Milton Keynes (Eastside bitches), it’s been a good few weeks for getting things done. I’m at the start of a week off work – I’m heading soon to a bit of a solo writers retreat in a caravan back oop naarth – and I feel like I’ve literally skidded sideways into the weekend after tying up a fuckload of loose ends. In the last few days the car has been serviced, I’ve taken thirteen people from work on a cool little indoor climbing and caving experience, I’ve hosted a smart little ‘retro gaming & pizza’ party at my gaff (and fucking WON the gaming competition – touch me), I’ve spent a couple of long days getting shit sorted in London, and I’ve even squeezed in a few reet sweaty 10km runs. All of this is cool, and even in my boozing days I like to think I wasn’t the type to sit about in my grundies and let life pass me by, but one BIG thing that has always been good at putting a black cloud over things for me – and that has stuck through me like a giant mucky kebab skewer for years and years – is the unshakable feeling that I’m shite at my job, and that handing over before a holiday will expose me for what I really am. And this worry is far-reaching…
I’ve spent a bit of time recently mulling over the reasons that I ever got into this unhealthy relationship with the booze. When I look back at some of the lads I grew up with, and have known since being six or seven years old, there’s no huge difference in the way our lives progressed. So why was it me that ended up taking the whole thing a bit too far? Why did I think it was funny to drink an entire bottle of Jagermeister and then expose myself to a packed room of rock fans in a pub in Scotland? Why did I get landed with the drinking problem? Why not them bastards?
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Despite the most widely-known way of maintaining sobriety being ardent AA attendance, I’m surprised by how few of the sober people I talk to have actually had success with Alcoholics Anonymous. Most have tried it, but almost none have felt the need to stick with it. This could be for any number of reasons, including me just talking to the wrong people, but certainly my own experiences with AA weren’t anything hugely groundbreaking or inspiring; the whole “higher power” thing felt a bit preachy, and the general approach of sitting around with old men drinking coffee and talking about “feelings” (pffft) felt like it needed a bit of updating – if not only to appeal more to the younger booze-hounds. After all – the earlier people recognise a problem and get help, the less further down that path of destruction they will have traveled. In other words: The less fucked your Ford Fiesta is, the easier it will be to unfuck it. Especially if it’s a cylinder head gasket issue mate. Okay.