The Football Thing and The Tennis Thing have come to a close.
Now, I know not all of you will share that sentiment, and that’s okay. I’m just teasing, really.
But I am glad.
Glad that our media can take some kind of break from a saturated coverage of sport… and constant reference to drinking. No more do we have to watch a thousand pints of beer head skyward, be subjected to alcohol & gambling ads every ten minutes, or watch the rich and famous sipping cocktails in the sunshine!
The thing is, this kind of saturation is something we become accustomed to. Something we “learn”, and something we cannot easily escape. Don’t believe that? Read Annie Grace’s “This Naked Mind“, and think again…
And yes, accepted, that whole debate may well be one for another day.
But today I’m delighted to share a comical look at how alcohol shapes so many of our daily lives.
Naomi, author of Sober Me, writes a tellingly hilarious story/ observation of just how close alcohol can be in our lives. How easy it is to turn to, and just how bloody difficult it is to take a different, sober, path.
So, I hope you enjoy this as much as we did… and Naomi, thanks for the share…
Pants, Pimms & Posh People
by Naomi. Originally published on her blog, 29 May 2018
I’ve had a somewhat chaotic couple of weeks. I’ve been travelling around lots for work and various other things, the details of which are pretty boring, but the “God, I could murder a drink” highlights are below.
16th May, Dublin, 8:40 pm.
Watching a traditional Irish band with some work colleagues after a conference. The music gets going, people are clapping their hands and tapping their feet, and I am having a whale of a time, despite being stone cold sober whilst my colleagues are five Guinesses in. The band comprises three middle-aged and thoroughly charming chaps, one of whom stops the music, points to the row I’m in, flanked on either side by my drunk colleagues, and says in a thick Irish drawl, “There’s a young lady down there, sat like a beautiful little flower, but my god she cannot clap to save her life…would she come up on stage please?”.
I feel myself flush and cringe as my inebriated colleagues clap and cheer and prepare their camera phones. I am not good at this kind of thing. I stand up, discreetly trying to unstick my skirt from my thighs whilst looking casual as I approach the stage, thoroughly convinced that the now really quite intimidating Irish musicians are going to force me into an Irish jig or similar.
As it turns out, they were nothing but lovely and simply gave me a t-shirt. Nobody died, I didn’t fall on to or off of the stage, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so petrified. It was the simplest thing, but without the comfort of alcohol, I felt exposed, vulnerable and trapped. I really, really wanted a drink by the time I got back to my seat.
I chain smoked three cigarettes and berated myself for not being a glamorous, confident type instead.
23rd May, Chelsea, 3 pm
I’m working on a stand at RHS Chelsea. I’ve been on my feet since 5 am and the show is noisy, crowded and warm.
My sinuses are as neurotic as the rest of me apparently, and have decided that a fucking flower show is the perfect time to develop hay fever. Everybody is very posh and I am trying to appear unflustered and in control despite barely being able to see.
There are Pimms tents every five metres, and posh people seem to like Pimms very much. “Daaaah-ling, you must be gasping for a glass of vino…”, exclaims a woman dressed entirely in Chanel boucle. Yes, Arabella / Persephone / Margot, yes I am. It takes all of my willpower not to run screaming for the nearest Pimms tent.
I smoke and eat some chocolate instead. I might end up obese and with lung cancer, but at least I’ll be sober.
25th May, Milton Keynes, 4:30 pm.
Exhausted after a long week, I practically skip out of the office and bound into the lift ready for the weekend. The lift promptly breaks and I am left, with dodgy phone signal, dangling in a lift shaft somewhere between floors. I frantically press the alarm button which results in nothing other than a robotic woman parroting “DO NOT PANIC” at me every 10 seconds.
Not very calming, and I ponder:
1) whether or not I am allowed to smoke in the lift and
2) whether or not I could survive a bank holiday weekend on half a bottle of lukewarm Evian and an out of date cereal bar.
After much faff and swearing, I get through to somebody and twenty minutes later I am released onto the ground floor.
The receptionist kindly offers me a bottle of wine for my troubles, and I leap three feet in the opposite direction before explaining that if I drink that wine, bad things will happen.
26th May, Milton Keynes, 12:30 pm.
“Fitface” has left me in Victoria’s Secret with his credit card.
This is a new experience. When did underwear shopping start to involve dubstep, light shows and a shop warm enough to incubate eggs?
I sweat and try not to look intimidated.
A bright young thing bounces over and asks over the loud music if I’d like any help. As I resist the urge to take FF’s credit card and horribly abuse it at the nearest bar.
Bright Young Thing takes my measurements and furnishes me with an array of lingerie to try on. I try not to look confused as I walk into a changing cubicle.
When did underwear develop multiple straps?! I am concerned to discover that the bra I am trying on has six straps. I do a quick count to check that I still have two arms, and two boobs. I do.
The unfathomable bra has no instructions so I do my best with limited resources, however, one strap has caught in my hair and another has caught behind my left ear so I am left stranded with both arms above my head, looking like a bit of a tit (pun absolutely intended).
I give up and try something a bit more normal on.
Before “Boozegate”, I would have sloped off to get drunk immediately after the purchase, but I’m pleased to report that me, my two arms and two boobs had nothing more than orange juice over lunch.
27th May, Brighton, 1 pm.
I’m visiting Brighton for the night.
I was in Brighton for a short time during my misspent youth, when I was a blue-haired, blue-mouthed punk with an attitude problem. That was probably one the darkest times in my life.
I was wracked with anxiety, and unable to socialise without being drunk or high.
Being back there again brought back so many flashes of memories: drinking cheap wine from a coffee mug in a camper van, watching the water late at night whilst drunk, stumbling along the pier.
It made me both long for my youth, and be pleased that I’m no longer that scared young woman.
The heady combination of my own memories, the smell of cannabis, and the sight of people enjoying cans of beer on the beach made me crave a drink, made me long to be able to return to that hedonistic lifestyle just for a day.
Instead, I ate ice cream and reminded myself of all the things I love about being sober. Later on, I’m walking through the city centre and a clearly pissed man bumps into me: his eyes are glazed and unfocused, his arms flop at his sides, and his gait is staggered.
I feel sorry for him, but happy that I’ll never have to feel like that again, nor will I ever have to suffer a hangover again.
Here’s to staying sober, sane and stable.
About our author, Naomi.
Naomi’s blog, Sober Me, tells a very personal story of one woman’s mission to sort her shit out!
She says: “Anybody who knows me well will know that for the past 15 years, I’ve never been far away from a drink. On 4th March 2018, I had a life-changing realisation. I had to quit drinking. My use of alcohol had become a huge issue. I relied on it to ease me away from the depression that has always lurked at the back of my mind, used it a confidence booster, a social lubricant and a coping mechanism.
I used it to celebrate and I used it to commiserate. Every event in my life was marked by alcohol, but instead of being a merry glass of vino or two, it had become four binge sessions a week, all weekend benders, and an all-consuming monster that I struggled to control.”
Her blog is a warts and all journey along her path to teetotalism.