Friday, 24 March 2017

Would You Just... Stop Boozing?

Well, yep, I've done what I always do. Fallen into that routine of getting a drink after work, because one can't hurt, because it's either a lonely trudge to the bus stop in grey cold to wait while the wind howls and dead-eyed office workers jab at their phones, to then hustle onto the bus trying to smile at the driver who is trying to smile back, both of us with faces like sad stone gargoyles, to sit then and jab at my phone, scrolling, scrolling, 40 minutes of this, crawling in rush-hour traffic, then 15-minute sore-footed hump from bus stop, exhausted after day running around the bar, to collapse in my room and sprawl for the evening bathed in the soft glow of my laptop screen in an empty room as I nod slowly off -- it's either this or get a nice drink of one of the nice ales I've been selling all day, to reward myself, just a little reward -- and so I get a beer and fall backwards and let it catch me, let it hold me up -- and then halfway down the glass here's Steve, trundling in in his workman gear, that stiff swinging gait of his -- "Hullo, Bobby", "Hullo, Stevie" -- and it's nice to have a friend, nice to have a beer and a friend, after a long day, and we sit and drink and laugh misery-blues, and wait see if we can get anything going.

And then Little Rob is finishing across the road, good old shuffling slouching heart-of-gold Little Rob, so we go over there for one, maybe two -- and then it's mid-shifters at mine finishing, here's Liam Straw and Zoe, heading over now, and suddenly this thing has momentum, suddenly we're together, we're a group warm and good, and everything feels all right -- Steve is buying a round, more money than he can spend on his alone self, and I move on to rum, and then I get one back because that's Right, and Straw has no money but he's ours so we've got him, and it's not long till the guys on the close will be done, the voice deep down knows I should go home but who's listening and it's all lost anyway and we share drinks and this is good.

I get drunk and lurch into awkward spider-skitting anxiousness -- they're playing pool and I should play but I can't play pool, can't do anything, and I go to the bar but I don't know the girl working -- So many new faces, I'm too old, what am I still doing here? -- and I try to act cool but I'm not cool and I'm a lost alien bug fiend -- and back at the pool table Little Rob is collecting his bag, he's on the open tomorrow, and the group is disintegrating and the happiness has gone and we are all of us doomed.

But then here's Jake and Missy, drunk, beaming, riding in on a wave of elation, in matching hi-tops and grunge shirts, bending the light around them, and we all cheer and hug and kiss, and the lurch is forgotten. Missy drinks gin and tonic and cocks her head to one side and throws out all the sass. Jake does his Jake-dance. I snuggle with them both and Jake and I talk and we're two boys and brothers and the love is eternal.

Then it's Dev Cat with my lot after the closedown and Straw and I are doing a skit and we're funny and we know it. We're in the booth behind the curtain and everyone is here and we protect one another, Baby D is beautiful yet worried, and I say words that protect him, and we get bourbon and drink it. Zoe and I are doing a thing where we laugh really loud at everything and then stop suddenly without looking at one another, and I don't know why but it's great, and the night swirls on.

They call time at Dev Cat but this can't be time so we bungle across to the Washy -- cheap Snake Dogs and Chloe eating bagged ploughman's and a mad woman is talking to us and I've got rum again and I feel bad I feel empty I feel great and it's lost all of it is going I don't know what's lost can you find what's gone we race and it swirls and will anyone find us and I can't find us but some people are getting chips and I'm getting chips but I don't eat them and I get in a taxi and go home.

And then next morning I wake up goopy and forlorn, broke-down sad and head pulsing deep-sea-rift-crash, and a tongue like old carpet, and I know I've done it again. Hangovers on my antidepressants are the worst. I eat a banana so I can take my pill and I eat two codeine also and then I go back to bed. I watch YouTube and don't get up till 4 pm, and do nothing then.

* * *

For so long I've been wanting to write more, to get up earlier, to deal with my life. And it's not like drinking is the core problem, but it's perfect avoidance -- I can pretend I'm getting back on track soon, when I get home, on my day off, soon -- but first I'll just have this one drink, I'm sad and the full solution seems impossible but meanwhile the quick solution is right here, a nice beer, medicine, and it helps, it works, even as it sows the seeds for more future sadness, and but you don't think about the future when right now you're in pain and there's something in front of you to assuage that pain.

But I spend half my wages back in bar tills, and I have brief warm highs between days of empty lows, and 2017 drifts on, the same as 2016 and 2015 before it. So I'm going to stop boozing. I don't want to stop drinking -- I like craft beer, I like a good gin and tonic, I like the idea of being someone who accepts a little messiness and imperfection in his life, who enjoys simple pleasures when they can be found. But there is a difference between a Belgian tripel once a week drinking slowly identifying notes in the aroma -- a difference between that and boozing all night after every shift too scared to go home and then hungover wailing through every day off. It is self-destructive behaviour, and it's time it stopped.

So here's this. Let's see how it goes.


  1. Not easy to read but beautifully written....good luck with the stopping...but don't hate yourself if you have slip-ups.

  2. Best of luck Rob. Keep those words bubbling and pouring.