I like a beer as much as the next dude. But recently I have taken a look at Britain’s drinking culture and how I am an example of how stupid the whole thing can get. There have been a few things lately that have opened my eyes to it all. I am currently not struggling financially like I was a few months ago but I still see that I am spending hundreds of pounds per month on going out and having “a few beers”. Also, no matter what group of people I am with it doesn’t take long for me to be recognised as the pisshead of the group. An example of this is with the poker guys that I meet up with every Monday night. Most of us there have a few beers while we play. But somehow my drinking has been highlighted. By the people I play with and the people on the bar there. I don’t mind really but it was pretty quick of them to pick up on it since I feel like I don’t do anything different to the others there. And they are right. Within any group of friends I am known as the guy who loves a beer and is always in a pub. There’s no smoke without fire. Also, my Christmas gifts told me a lot. People are actually putting thought into what drink related things they can buy me. Like as if it defines me as a person and is a massive hobby of mine (well, I guess it is really). I had a really cool whiskey glass that comes with a silicon sphere to make an ice cube. The shape of the glass combined with the spherical piece of ice (just realised how incorrect it is to have called it an ice cube but sod it) will allow the aroma of the whiskey to reach you more easily. I also had a Guinness t-shirt and a t-shirt that said “A pub is for life not just for Christmas”. Are people trying to tell me something here? This comes from three different people living in three different locations. And then there was this questionnaire that I had to fill in whilst registering at the local doctor’s. The whole thing was about drinking habits. The fact that these questions are being asked must mean that as a society we have a bit of a problem. Anyway, I answered this questionnaire most dishonestly and still my score was too high. When answering honestly the score I actually should get means that I am alcohol dependent. When I think about it I cannot really deny it. And in answering these questions I realised just how stupid I am being.
I have always liked beer and getting pissed. I have always felt like it takes the edge off my problems and at times over the years it used to give me a certain confidence around people that I needed. Even now at times I can go within myself and do not feel like engaging people in conversation. The booze was a way around that. It’s not so much of a problem now but a few years ago I felt like I really needed it. I felt like I couldn’t really join in until I’d have a few beers so I could lighten up a bit. I probably started drinking beer at about 13, though only a couple of quite weak beers. But even so, maybe it was too early. I first got drunk at 14. And pretty soon it became a regular thing. Stupid kids with their stupid cider getting quite tipsy and acting like it gave you a whole personality change so you could do mad shit and blame it on the booze. But obviously when you turn 18 and can then get beer whenever you like things change a lot. Since then I hate to think how much I have spent on the stuff. I pretty much always have cans in the fridge and go the pub multiple times per week. And this has gone on for years and years now. Uni was mental. We even built a beer wall out of empty cans that covered the living room. Nights out were full of shots and cocktails. Everything was cheap and all anybody seemed to want to do was get pissed. And I was always a ring leader. On any night out, I was there. I embraced this binge drinking culture and have always been completely at home with it.
Since uni there have been other stand out occasions that show how silly I have become. When I travelled to Thailand I drank and pretty much got wasted everyday for five weeks straight. It was just so cheap, how I could I not do it? I used to say that God gave me a super power and that was that no matter how smashed I was the night before I can still do it all again the next day. Like it’s something to be proud of. Other events that highlight my problem are at festivals. Ok, it’s a festival and everybody does it. But there’s something about the smile on my face and the enjoyment I have when waking up and cracking open a beer first thing. At a festival there is always a beer in my hand except when I’m asleep. For five whole days there is constantly a shitload of alcohol in me to the point where at times I’m wandering about in a total daze and I don’t even remember where I’ve been or what I’ve done. And during this whole time I am loving it and wishing everyday life was like this. Because when I am like that I literally have no problems, they cease to exist and I’m just so care-free. Even though the whole thing is a lie.
And over the last few years I have continued to work in a pub. So when I finish work there I am in a pub so might as well get a beer or three. Then instead of going home we might as well go to others pubs. I’ve convinced myself that due to me working late and then needing to be asleep cause I have to get up and start work early the next day that I need a few beers to unwind so I can sleep. I need to neutralise the day’s caffeine in-take before even attempting sleep. Maybe this is some bullshit excuse I give out and there is no real truth to it. I can think of flashes of the last few years that seem absurd now. Flashes of planning nights out and looking forward to getting absolutely smashed. Shots after shots at various bars. Turbo shandies and snakebites. Drunken conversations that we’ve had many times before and are just played over on repeat with nothing new ever added to further any points made if any points were actually made at all. Running low on money and so struggling for food due to the ridiculous amount I’ve spent on way too many nights out over the month. All of it has to stop.
If I could stop I would have so many benefits. I would save so much money. I would remember so much more of my life. I would not have hangovers. I would be able to focus on solving my problems rather than running away from them. I would live longer. I would feel healthier. This is all if I could stop. I don’t know if I can. I love the taste so much and all it takes is a couple of sips and there is no stopping me. Why after being half way through a Guinness would I stop and not have another five? I fear that my only way of escaping this madness is to completely stop drinking altogether. At least for a while. I have never had a break from it. Never gone a week of my adult life without it. Until now. As I am typing this I have just completed seven calendar days without even a teaspoon of booze. I am completely sober as hell. Something in me snapped over Christmas and I had a feeling that as soon as it was done then I would be done with my old ways. And that’s what happened. Over the years occasionally I have met people that are completely t-total. They are a rare breed in our culture and they have always fascinated me. I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to be that way. To go out and not drink a thing and remember it all. To be there amongst all the drunken conversations and to either roll the eyes and ignore it or join in as best you can even though it must seem like discussing quantum physics with a toddler at times. I admire that they just choose not to do something that is so prevalent in our neck of the woods. Amongst others I have probably always taken the piss out of them but deep down all I felt was envy at their will power. And now I’m trying to emulate them. People cannot believe that I am trying this little experiment and I know nobody feels like it can last. I even doubt it myself when every atom in my ridiculous brain is screaming at me to crack open a can (right now goddamn it!) and stop being stupid. But I am going to try. If drinking and getting wasted is what I am known for and what defines me as a person then people will have to come up with something new. Perceptions will need to be changed. Because the way I feel right now I can’t see a future with it all. I am t-total.
Always Coca Cola, peace and love