14 January 2016

It's the Best Thing That You Ever Had

The House of Commons has its own craft beer,. Apparently traitors drink stout.
Palace of Westminster, London, 21st November, 2015
There's a lot of media coverage this week about "Dry January", the Movemberesque fundraising campaign that I admit to never having heard of before but which suddenly seems to be a tradition as old as, well, Movember itself. In case you are as ignorant as I am, Dry January involves the almost unimaginable sacrifice of giving up alcohol for a month after all your indulgences over the Christmas season, presumably with friends and family sponsoring you (in the "cash for charity" way and not the "prostrating yourself before a higher power/Alcoholics Anonymous" sense of the word).

I am not a fan of the attention-seeking "it's for charity" made-for-selfie campaigns. In my day, we put a few coppers in the Trócaire box and kept our misery to ourselves. Of course my day was largely before digital cameras, so who knows what craziness we would have got up to in the name of Lenten sacrifice had they been available (oh, the cups of black tea we would have shared with the world). However, unlike growing ridiculous facial hair or wearing stupid jumpers, giving up drink for a month is something that might actually approach a hardship, at least in Ireland.

It's nearly five years now since medical necessity and an uncooperative internal organ "encouraged" me to give up alcohol and although it hadn't really played that great a part in my life once I hit my early thirties and could no longer experience even the mildest of hangovers and still make any meaningful contribution to the workday, I must admit that I miss the occasional pint for two main reasons.

I am a veritable bucket of stress. In fact, at times I feel like I am a bucket of stress being constantly swung in a looping fashion with only centripetal force keeping it from sloshing out and soaking everything in a five meter radius. It would be nice, on occasion, to be able to sit back at the end of a crazy day, grab a beer and for one brief moment be alcoholically induced into a state of not giving a damn.

Secondly, even without the stress relief, you'd be surprised at how much of what passes for a social life revolves around drinking, either in the pub or with friends in more grown up situations like dinner parties or funerals . When you sit around with friends who are drinking while you remain defiantly sober two thoughts cross your mind, "boy, my friends sure are all babbling idiots" followed closely by "boy, my friends sure are having more fun than me". You certainly don't need alcohol to have a good time, but it's really hard to shake the feeling that everyone who does is having a much, much better time doing so.

So, the next time someone comes round and asks me to sponsor them for Dry January, I'll say, "Good for you. While we're at it, why don't you sponsor me for dry December, and November, and October, and all the other months since March 2011. I'll wait here while you go to the ATM".

I really miss alcohol.




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