Tag Archives: beer

New perspectives

Last week-end I went to the 18th birthday party of a close family member.  It was a lovely evening where the young person was surrounded by family and friends cheering on their coming of age.

But boy do I see things through different eyes now I don’t drink!  In my old drinking days this would have been a bona fide excuse to get absolutely ripped.  The kids would have been amused with a film whilst I got down to the job of drinking and smoking myself to oblivion.  They would have been put to bed at the host’s home and we would have carried on carousing until the early hours.  Mother’s day the next day would have been completely ruined as I would have been hanging from a major hangover and Bloody Mary’s would have been the order of the day for an early lunchtime to try and manage the pain in my head. But I wasn’t an alcoholic was I because the drink at lunchtime when I had finished drinking in the early hours of the night before, and struggled out of bed at 10 or 11am,  wasn’t a drink first thing in the morning was it? 😉

The amount of booze at this party could have sunk a small ship.  When did it morph from taking a four pack of beer to taking a whole slab or case, from one bottle of wine to three and bottles of spirits?  The total units of alcohol sitting inside this house was mind-bending, liver failing and made me feel quite sick at just the thought.

Is this a marketing thing where it is just cheaper to buy this larger volume?  It would seem so as this week Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has criticised the “deplorable” tactics of supermarkets designed to encourage customers to buy “ever-greater quantities of alcohol” in the latest annual report on the state of the public’s health.  Within this report she also says ‘in popular culture, drinking alcohol to excess is sometimes portrayed as normal behaviour. An analysis of six weeks of soap operas in the UK in 2010 found 162 instances of characters drinking to excess, with negative consequences rarely shown’.  Do people just drink more and is the normalisation of this behaviour in the soaps supporting this excessive drinking?  We used to say that people should bring their body weight in booze to a party but we weren’t being serious!!

But I did not want to drink any of it I’m happy to say.  What other people did was absolutely fine by me but I was not tempted in the slightest.  I nursed a couple of AF beers (which threw some people who knew I’d stopped drinking as they thought I had started again until I pointed out that it was alcohol free) and we took the kids home at 10pm when they got tired.  People were unsurprisingly fairly well oiled and starting to get worse for wear by the time we left.

But the next morning I was struck by the question, how do you celebrate an 18th if you don’t drink?  OK turning 18 means you can also vote but most young people are excited by the prospect of legally drinking.  In the British culture alcohol is so embedded as part of our coming of age rituals that this really foxed me.  How do you mark this milestone without booze??  Any thoughts or suggestions from you? 🙂

I could murder a glass of ……

Was out for a run recently and on my path I jogged past a discarded empty beer can that had been dumped on the roadside and it got me thinking.

The said brand is euphemistically known in the UK as ‘wife beater’.  Nice huh?  I’ll not share which particular brand or why it has this reputation but if you want to know the answer it is here and the owners of said brand and their lobbying companies have tried to take down the Wiki reference without success! (source)

And then other drink names came up – gin and it’s nickname ‘mother’s ruin’.  This spirit was also known as ‘Cuckold’s Comfort’, ‘Ladies Delight’ and ‘Knock Me Down’ and it’s consumption prompted the Gin Act in 1736 such was the state of ruin it caused to individuals and society within the UK.

And then I couldn’t think of anymore although I know there are!  Alcohol’s reputation has been cleaned up to within an inch of it’s toxic life and as the ‘wife beater’ reference goes to show the manufacturer’s and PR folks will go to great lengths to maintain the facade.  I’m sure a day will come when people will look back on this booze sodden time in our history and marvel at our stupidity and the success of the advertisers, marketeers and pedlars of these legal poisons.  I hope that day is sooner rather than later for the sake of our liver’s and the next generation.

Can anyone help me out with any other less than flattering drink nick-names that you can think of to add to the list?

Clear Thinking

I recently read the book by David Downie ‘Escape the Routine, Take Control, and Join the Clear Thinkers‘ and really enjoyed it.  I read it in one sitting and it triggered a great deal of reflection on my part.

David is an Aussie who knows a thing or two about beer having founded AustralianBeers.com and was the Australian contributor  to the international beer bible ‘1001 Beers You Must Drink Before You Die’.  Having been such an advocate and encourager of the swilling of beer he is now 3 years into a stint of being ‘between drinks’.

This started as a decision to give up alcohol for a year and he was so struck by the changes that happened that he decided to keep going.   Why did he stop?  Tired of feeling tired and unfit, curious as to what life would be like and because he felt he had nothing to lose as he could always change his mind and have a drink if he wanted.

When he started the journey he was a partner in a major law firm and beer expert.  Now he has left this job having cleared all his debt and works as a writer, has moved from the city to a beach on the Gold Coast and found a new girl.  Life for him has improved immeasurably since he became a clear thinker.  Stopping drinking enabled him to assess what he wanted from his life which prompted massive changes.

The book looks at the value of being a clear thinker and the differences between clear thinkers and typical drinkers.  He shares his experiences through the first year and offers actions at the end of each chapter.  The thing I really like about this book is it considers the benefits of this change in lifestyle and the implications for the long term.  It is framed in terms of huge gains and you read it and think why would you not?

This paragraph summed it up for me:

for people who have let the grog monster grab them by the tail, I am 100 per cent confident that breaking the pattern and letting your soul and mind recover for a good while can give you an opportunity to ask some of the bigger questions, and make real changes to your life as a result.

I absolutely agree with David on this and my life has changed immeasurably in the 5 months since I quit.  Personally, I would never have started this blog if I was still drinking.  I wouldn’t have tried my hand at sewing again.  I wouldn’t have met the brilliant people who write these great books and the many brilliant sober blogs I read every day.

I’ve already worked out that we will save almost £5K a year from not drinking.  And that’s enough to pay for tickets for my family to potentially fly to Australia and go sit on the beach with David now that he doesn’t have to do the work slog.  If that’s OK with him? 😉

Edited to add: David and I have been in touch on email and he had an update for me:

I’m about to take off with my ‘new girl’ next week, around Australia, and then Thailand I think, who knows after that. Maybe France…

Of course as France is only across the water from here I invited him for a cup of tea  🙂  If this is booze free living – I’m in!!