Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Oh Dear...

I just told someone at one of my local pubs that I was doing Sober for October, and he said, "You guys are always at it with these months off, it's no good for the pubs."

That's always been something I worried I'd feel guilty about. Largely it's not been too bad because I've been going out and watching the football as usual [whether it's on telly or not] and, though not putting as much money through the till as I normally would, getting a few drinks and maybe snacks. It's a bit of a shame to be reminded that there are downsides to something, especially just as I was starting to feel like I was coasting to the finish line.

Ah well, it's no biggie, even in the minutely greater scheme of things. Another generous donor has given me a helping hand toward my target today, so I still feel like I'm ending the day on a high :)

Six days to go...

Want to be the next generous donor? Well, you can!

Monday, 24 October 2016

The Plot Thickens

Did you know that, on average, it takes an hour to process one unit of alcohol? An hour of a Macmillan nurse's time could cost £25. If you help me reach my £500 target on JustGiving, you'll have helped pay for twenty hours of Macmillan help.

What an exciting and informative introduction, eh? I like to spoil my readers, as I'm sure you've noticed, and today is no exception. It's not even over! Prepare yourself, for I am about to update you with two new ENDs. Woop woop, etc...

Erm so last night I was on this Innocent Smoothie. It was jaw-motoringly sweet and quite sharp, so it wasn't a great alternative to the ale, but hey. It's supposed to be 'energising' [or at least I assume so, based on what it's called...] but, oh lord, it didn't scratch the surface of my drowsiness. Meh. What are you gonna do?

Was in Sainsbo's today and they had a pretty decent non-alcoholic range. They got the Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Cobra Zero [I was surprised to see it, but the regular lager isn't up to much, so I don't think I'll give that a go] and the one I bought: Bavaria 0.0%.

It's really rather good. A bit lighter than the Erdinger, quite sweet-tasting - which is a downside - but pleasant and malty. I tell myself that I'm getting in touch with my Dutch roots, which is rubbish, really, and I mean who even cares? Imagine there's no countries, indeed.

Ok, tot ziens!

P.S. Only seven more days to go...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Wagon

Some more sadness in today's post, so maybe don't read it if you're feeling fragile. Here's the donation page anyway, though:

Don't worry. With regards to the title, I'm not trying to pull the same stunt as I did with 'Big News'. When I mention 'the wagon', it's not the booze wagon I've fallen from, but the blog wagon. Don't worry.

I just haven't been able to blog the last couple of days [don't cheer too loudly, please]. I've been busy [obviously...] and wanted to be present with someone special, rather than tell her to hang on for half an hour or so while I clatter away at the keyboard. There's not much else to it.

I was going to blog about mum, who is the reason I'm doing Sober for October in the first place. I had this giddy thought half way through my shift on Friday, that I'd soon be seeing her again, and I felt that swelling of the heart that you get when you're excited to tell someone something. Then, within a second, it was over, and I remembered I'd never be able to see her again. This contradiction gave me mental whiplash, and I was confused as to where the thought had come from, then annoyed that I'd tricked myself with such a beautiful dream, and then I thought, "What's the point in going over it?" I just think it's hard not having that someone around that you trusted to bounce ideas off, especially as this relationship was getting stronger the past couple of years. I hope you don't mind me just blurting all this out.

It's certainly not all been doom and gloom here, though. A visit from close family and friends through the week has, though momentarily, changed the character of this house again. The old cliche, perhaps, of 'home' over 'house'. It's not just strong female presences that make this place seem full of life again, and neither is it 'simply' a case of other people's love filling the space once more. Well, if anything can be gleaned here, it's probably that I'm the least likely person to be able to draw a meaningful conclusion from this situation, so I'll just remain happy with the facts.

Speaking of which, I was talking to someone down the pub yesterday [I was on coke, then lime and soda by the way...] about the importance of time with loved ones, and the gentle joy you find. This bloke had lost both his parents inside a ten-year period, and time hasn't made him miss them less. I was telling him that it's a shame we teach people the value of the present, the power they have to express love, to spend time and effort with/on special folk. Some people can't get it, though, until loss happens to them. With that, my friend walked off to the bar. Anecdote over.

Post over.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Missing the Point

My poor, poor toe...
 To the left to the left is a picture of my ill toe. It has nothing to do with this post, or my Sober For October journey, but I'm in such a lot of distress, and it really is such a shame, it's just awful... The only thing I think could possibly help me and my recovery would be you donating on my page:

Last weekend I was at the Lancaster Music Festival. It was a lot of fun, but bloody busy. I was in one of the fine Luneside hostelries, which was so busy that they had to open up one of the back doors to let air circulate and keep things cool. I was sat near this open door and got a whiff of the old casks that must've been out back. As I was breathing in the smell of sour beer, all I could think of was how much I miss bar work. The dirt, the physicality and the camaraderie you get with your workfellows, and the customer interchange as well.

Obviously the times could be very hard. Too hard, in some ways. I remember a bank holiday shift once where the kitchen staff were rushed off their feet [I think one out of three of them was ill, so they were down to two anyway] and one of the remaining guys walked out. I had to go around and tell anyone who'd ordered that they wouldn't be getting their food, and telling anyone who wanted food that they couldn't get it, all the while having to contort my body to squeeze myself through a solid maze of customers that at least doubled my journey between gantry and glasswash room. But you knew you'd done a good job by the end of it. And, dare I say it, I wasn't the worst bar person in the world.

Also, as I've been in work at The Wineyard, I've been evaluating things. I've been asking myself the ol' question of whether I should give it up altogether. But, as pointless as it sounds, I like the chat with people about flavours, about appreciation of the products, about facilitating people having fun.

The point is, I'm a part of the alcohol trade. I have been almost all my working life so far, and though it has its downsides [which I will wisely not mention here...] there are many good facets to it. And many of them don't require you to necessarily partake in the drinking.

Well my original intention for this post was to write a hard line on how much fun there is on the world, even within the industry, that doesn't need booze consumption, and how I, or even we, could be very happy without it. But I've written a worm in there, the whole thing about being able to talk about tastes, which usually involves me drinking. And really, it's obvious that all one needs to do is spit out the drink afterwards and avoid getting drunk, but I have to say I can't see myself spitting out pints [especially not in the pub - could you imagine?]. But then, to be honest, I couldn't imagine myself doing this Sober For October thing a few weeks ago either.

Haha, how typical of me. I had a good idea, a simple one, and I was all ready to just put it down and maybe make you think. Instead, I've made myself think - too much - again, and now I'm not sure. Can I work in this trade without drinking alcohol? Sure. Reasonably easily, in fact. Can I work in this trade and enjoy not drinking alcohol? Much harder. For me at least...

Again, it's a terrible argument, but I always come back to 'humanity'. Yes it's more than probable that because of the decadent country I live in, it's rather easy to push this idea, but life's full of things we don't need, but more than keep us living, they make us feel alive. Passions in any area, you know, they're all a part of us. Beer especially just happens to be mine. I know it doesn't have to be as I can derive joy from many other areas of my life, but I do get something out of it. Right now this just feels like me trying to justify going back on the sauce to me, so I'll just stop...

I tried to make a positive case for abstinence, I really did. Right now, though, the positive case is your donations. They're keeping me sober throughout this month, so if you can and want to chuck a bit of money towards Macmillan's work, you can either do it on my page or just in a can somewhere...

Peace out.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Just As Well

You know the drill:

Sorry blog friends, I'm ill again and not up to producing my usual high standard of blogcraft. I just got over a cold earlier in the month, and had hoped that I had at least enough antibodies to keep me healthy for, oh, I don't know, maybe a bloody fortnight at least... And to top it all [or 'bottom', really], I've just had another session of surgery on my toe nail. It's been pretty painful this last couple of weeks, and I'm sure you'll thank me for not sharing a picture of all the discharge I've been dealing with. Anyway, now that I've completely annoyed and sickened you all with my moaning and disgusting truths, I'd like to take the time to assure that, despite the current situation breeding a 'f*** it' kind of atmosphere - one in which I'd really rather like to crack open a bottle of something strong and unwind in front of an action film - I am still sober. I was even offered a taste of two new beers from Tiny Rebel that came into the shop yesterday, but I turned down even the possibility of spitting it out after tasting, just in case I accidentally swallowed any. 

There was another great opportunity to sling a couple of beers down my neck on Monday, during the Liverpool game against Man U, but I didn't take it. It's interesting, especially since I've talked before about how I perceive alcohol to change the passage of time, that I think the pace of a game [even a big one like that] seemed the same, despite being on Beck's Blue shandy [I had a bottle of the stuff recently that tasted like vomit - yes it was in date - and I wanted to try it with lemonade to try and avoid that awfulness]. The first half seems to go quite slowly. Especially in a game where you are waiting for someone to burst the dam and let the flood waters free, I think. But then the second half rockets by, until about seventy minutes in, then eighty minutes crawls as you're checking the clock to see how likely a goal could be at this stage, to see how long a substitute has to change the game [giving Origi four minutes wasn't inspired. He's a decent enough player to be given longer, but hey, it is what it is now], and whatever else.

I suppose the biggest difference between the drunk and the sober game-watching is probably emotion. You get more vocal when drinking, usually, and of course you can 'forget yourself' a little bit and can get even more absorbed in the game because you're not conscious of so much of the stuff you're usually worrying about. The big thing with the drink is the fact that it's a depressant and, come win, lose or draw, you can find your mood dip after leaving the social circle you've just been enjoying. But I don't want to get too far into this, being as though I find the same thing happens when I'm sober after playing sport [I always assumed it was as the endorphins wore of], or even just on a quiet day one can go up and then very down. That's depression for ya.

It was a tense affair [though some have said 'turgid'], one where efforts by either side to be more proactive in attack could've left spaces in the defense that might've proven a weakness. Had it been a six-goal thriller, I could easily have, without thinking, had big gulps of a beer and ended up drinking lots, so it's just as well the result was goalless. Had Liverpool won, I would've been tempted to celebrate, had it been a loss I might've wanted to drown my sorrows.

Now, if you were to ask me if the result was fair, I'd probably say it was justice. Well...

Monday, 17 October 2016

Over Half Way

Ticking off the days.
You say you want a revolution we-ell you know, this link isn't going to help you achieve one. It will give you the chance to do some good, though:

Wellity wellity wellity [stop that], I'm over half way through the Sober For October challenge. Apart from a lot of complaining, some persistent withdrawal symptoms and a boredom issue, it's gone alright so far. I would almost say I'm enjoying it, but not quite.

I'm in a weird situation with my daily blogging ritual. There's a tension between trying to update you with things that [I think] are noteworthy about my personal experience of the month and also trying to make it not about me with more general musings on the concept of it, then even more removed information about alcohol and the culture of drinking. I find it hard to avoid making reference to such a milestone, though, and I'd like the chance to gather some thoughts [such as they are].

I was about to be downbeat, because donations reached such a sudden standstill. Since this is the first time I've done an online donation thing, I don't know what's 'normal', really, though this slackening of pace definitely doesn't feel promising. Anyway, as I said, that was before. Yesterday I had a couple of mateys of mine who wanted to make offline donations [which I've added to my JustGiving page already], and one of them gave me a really nice card to say well done and keep strong, so now this is a happy post.

I know in some ways what I'm doing isn't a massive thing, you know. It's not doing an ultra-marathon in a hot air balloon bunjee jump over a shark infested pond [or whatever the kids are into these days], but I can't deny that it means something to many people, and will do some good when Macmillan get the moolah. In that sense, it means a lot to me too. I've got the memory of my mum, the strength of my friends and family and the knowledge of a charity receiving help to drag me out of my usual cynicism surrounding the efficacy of things and into a positive frame of mind.

I was also talking the other day about how the mind reacts to sums of money in these instances. When £250 was all but reached in a few days, I was amazed. It's more than my weekly wage, and raised in much less time. After upping the target, though, it raised the anxiety that I wouldn't reach it. It became less about the reality of what the money 'means' and more about the process of pushing to reach the goal. I don't know if I'm explaining it very well, but there was a shift between the early overwhelming gratitude toward a sort of voracious attitude. I suppose it's more understandable considering I'm not going to see any of the money myself, so therefore I feel like it's a more qualitative attachment.

Well that's about as much sense as I'm going to make, I suppose...

Wine's what I've really been craving lately but, as always, you guys keep me ploughing the sober furrow. Thank you!

Peace, love and light x