Thursday, 9 January 2014

What would Dylan Thomas have made of 'Dry January'?

I've given up drinking for January.

Apparently I've also given up for February and March too.  This is because I am being 'supportive' to Dave who believes the motivation of a pint waiting for him at the end of his thesis submission (in March) will spur him on to meet said deadline.

The spur of course can only work if the prize is a forbidden fruit until then.

Dave feels great and is confident this is down to ditching the booze.  He says he's sleeping better and he  even feels he's more productive because of it.

I on the other hand feel none of these things predominantly because as of 2nd January I was hit by the seasonal lurgy.  For days now I have wanted to drink nothing other than lemsip and tea.  I am so tired that the very thought of going out of the house makes me want to curl up into a little ball of blanket and hot water bottle. Much moreso the thought of going into a noisy busy pub.

Dave says my illness is a sure sign of my body's addiction to alcohol and that the lurgy I am feeling is probably just me experiencing withdrawal symptoms.  He also thinks he's so funny.

I did have my first experience of going out and not drinking last night though.  It was a gentle introduction as I went to see the Little Mermaid at Bristol Old Vic with a friend - hardly a massive bender of a night out - but there was a bar and therefore a pre-show drink, an interval drink and a post-show 'whadiyathinkofit' drink.

I don't know if it's the lurgy talking but two things fell out of that experience for me.  The first was that it wasn't hard and, after the initial dullness of having to explain my non-alcoholic actions, it didn't make any difference to the evening.  The second was that I was much more acutely aware of how tired I was - something I suspect I drink my way through sometimes.

Before Christmas Dave and I were getting into a bit of a routine whereby I'd finish work at Colston Hall, pick him up from the lab as I walked past and then we'd nip into one of the three very fine pubs that form our route home for a 'swifty'.

Not drinking is a way of breaking this routine which is great but it's interesting as going to the pub for a pint has also been our way of doing something non-domestic together, hanging out in a different space and catching up on stuff that isn't about putting the recycling out or fretting about deadlines (there's a lot of fretting about deadlines that goes on in a house with an MA and a PhD student in it...).  And we're just not at the stage of going to the pub for a lime and soda yet, that simply doesn't feel.....right?

I read an article which suggests that it's pretty negative and pointless to give up drinking in January - apparently it's just something else to fail at; it leads to a greater likelihood of an alco blow-out on the 1st February and it doesn't encourage you to make a more meaningful and lasting lifestyle change.

But actually I'm quite up for it.  There really IS something about January that makes me want to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, to make resolutions and changes in the what and the how of being.  Drinking is so entrenched in our society as the primary way to have a good time, experiencing a month (or three...??!!) not doing that is going to be really interesting.

I'm not sure Dylan Thomas would've agreed with me though....

Related Links:
Dry January
WHO status report on alcohol and health in 35 EU countries
Alcohol free pubs


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  2. I really feel like I've read a lot more about people wanting to quit drinking recently, something I'd never really considered before.. Or for a few days to "cleanse". I find it so interesting how entrenched it is in our culture, and not just the binging, but the "swifty" at the pub or the glass/bottle of wine after a long Friday (and God knows there's been a few of these)... I know a lot of people are quite harsh about the Dry January effort, but I think even if it's just to think a bit more about how we drink, it's worth it. So good luck! X

    1. Hi Charlotte, I know what you mean - this year in particular I know of at least three friends who are giving up drinking for the month and flicking through magazines and whatnot have started reading about places like the Redemption bar which opened in London in the summer and the Brink in Liverpool which opened a few years ago - bars specifically set up as dry bars. Interestingly everything I've read suggests they pretty much clear out by 9pm....anyhow good luck to you too for a non-alcoholic month! x