Hello Alcohol, My Old Friend

By guest blogger, John Stephenson

On 1 December 2017 I gave up booze for a month. I really enjoy a scotch with Santa and figured I’d try a health reboot before Christmas.

I found that month pretty easy, I didn’t have any cravings or withdrawal. Sure I wanted a drink, especially if I saw someone with a nice spirit in a movie or on TV, but I breezed into Christmas without breaking my fast. One month, easy!

After only a few days off the sauce I noticed how much better I was sleeping. I didn’t wake up as much during the night and insomnia became a thing of the past. I woke in the morning on time or even a bit earlier and I felt great. I read somewhere that when you drink regularly you’re always in a state of mild hangover. That might be a bit harsh, but I felt better, I really did.

I would like to say I wasn’t a heavy drinker, but that wouldn’t be true. At various points in my life I drank like a fish. I discovered single malt whisky at an early age and I’ve loved the warming feeling ever since. I drank wine socially and never really took to beer. A few designer brews, a little ginger beer and more than a few ciders. Most spirits and the odd cocktail. The odder the better. I have very fond memories of something called a “Blue Beard’s Farewell” at Cooney’s Wine Bar, it changed colour with every sip.

The Tasmanian scotch explosion was like Christmas all year round. Bill Lark is a hero. I love my scotch. Peaty, smoky and the richer the better. Sophisticated afternoons at my mates’ homes with some cheeses and lots of different scotches. Single malt only, $100 a bottle minimum please gentlemen. I had a run on American whiskey just to be sure. I’m sure. Scotland rules the glass.

I’ve only been to Scotland once and that was a way-too-brief weekend in October 2017. Funny story. We caught the train from York to Edinburgh Friday morning. We were the first onboard but they filed in after us pretty quick. Dozens of young Poms with crates of alcohol under their arms. Uh oh, this was the party train! We hadn’t booked the quiet carriage. An hour into the journey they were rolling in the aisle. Loud as an AFL game at 200 miles per hour. We arrived shell shocked. We hadn’t brought a single can. Strangely, I didn’t find any whisky I wanted all weekend but settled for a supermarket brand at the train station for the trip back to England. We got settled in our carriage, hoed into our picnic, and I pulled out my bottle thinking, “If you can’t beat them join them”. Oops. Seems the Poms slept it off on the way back and didn’t drink. At least the Scots appreciated my gesture. I was a bit of a local hero in our carriage for at least 3 minutes. That’s the last drink I remember, but my diary says I didn’t give it up until December.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Christmas came and went and I actually didn’t feel like a drink. I was on a roll and wasn’t going to stop (not drinking). January came and went. February. I just didn’t want to break the run or risk insomnia. I’ve been sober since.

I missed out the bit about being diagnosed borderline (about to go over the edge) type two diabetes earlier this year. I got sentenced to six months of diet and exercise (oops) to see if I could stave it off. I gave up sugar and so the booze had to go too. To be honest that probably helped get me through the three months but after that I kinda used it as an excuse because it’s easier to say than ‘I’m not drinking’.

I don’t think I’ll never drink again. A good friend of mine gave up booze for a year just to prove that he could. Maybe I’ll go a year. Maybe longer. Maybe less. I’m a chronic over thinker. That’s the way I’m wired. I wasn’t sure if the drinking was a symptom or a cause. I’m still not sure.  I do know that not drinking helps me although it’s not the cure. And I’ll be the last one to tell you that you should give up booze. But having a dry month is certainly an experience I would recommend.

Another terrific post from John – 5 Things I love about Living in Kingston.

Find about more about what John does when he’s not drinking – Forgotten Tasmania – Beatties Studio.

Here’s This Girl’s reflections on her recent dry month – When you’ve got something to prove but you don’t know what it is.

Photos provided by John from his recent trip including his oldest living relative, 90-year-old, Aunty Joan from Yorkshire and Edinburgh.

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