On the wagon: dry January

I normally don't even entertain the idea of making any New Year's resolutions. Why torture yourself any more in what is without doubt, the most depressing month of the year?

But in 2010 I have. I've quit drinking for the entire month.

Why? Well, mainly just to see if I can actually do it. When I started to think about it, I tried to remember a full week that I've gone without a drink. I couldn't. As for a weekend without booze, you're probably talking 1995. Rubbish.

I've always had a reasonably healthy relationship with drink. Like everyone I got off to a bit off a rocky start at the beginning, though. White Lightning + Strawberry 20/20 = a bit of a mess.

But after the school play party, when I woke up on the floor at someone's house with only one eyebrow and a vague recollection of trying to set fire to his shower curtains, I realised drink in large quantities doesn't always make for the best night out.

And there's nothing worse than the double whammy of a clunking hangover (the taste of dead badger in your mouth, the headache elves hammering on the inside of your skull with arsenic-laden icepicks and the nausea fairy stirring up your guts) and the creeping fear of "I know I probably did something out of order last night, but I can't remember"

Just ask the bloke, who has "seen the light" twice this year already and quit drinking (after a 20-rum-a-night-special) only to be seen with a beer in his hand less than 12 hours later. Yes, I know, it's not easy.

Because I swing from feeling mildly smug about my non-drinkingness to feeling like a freak when I tell people I don't know. They look at me with pity, like I've just told them I've got a nasty disease.

And waiters and barmen don't like it. They take it as something of an insult – especially if they're trying to offer you a complimentary shot at the end of a meal. One even offered to make me a weak shandy. The owner of our local, Ramon told me my game of darts would suffer if I drank water instead of Martini (he was right though, I lost both tournaments – a personal worst for me)

A friend of mine in Durham is also having a dry January. When she announced it on facebook, friends rushed to tell her not to do it. "You won't feel any better," they told her. "You'll just feel miserable and you'll be sober" Some were scandalised that she wouldn't be drinking at their birthday celebrations. Can't you be sober and still have a good time? Do you have to be pissed to be a fun person?

I've had a few nights out straight now, and I think you CAN have a good time without the booze. Even more so in some cases, as you don't get sleepy, you can hold a conversation, and you can spring out of bed the next day, hangover free, and able to remember everything.

You probably won't spend less, though. Water costs the same as a glass of wine at most places here. But after a while, that fuzzy slightly thick feeling you get in the mornings seems to disappear.

And after a certain point in the night you may find friends start to repeat themselves or just annoy you. Yes you are just like that when you're pissed.

Mind you, to stay off the sauce, you've got to find your substitute drink. Too much orange juice and you'll want to vomit. And you can't drink coke all night. Well, you can, but you end up wired on caffeine and addicted to that instead of booze.

In the end I started drinking sparkling water with lime juice, on the advice of my mate Rew, who has been off the juice for some time.

It was a good tip. If you suspend disbelief slightly it's just like you're drinking a nice vodka lime and soda. Almost.


  1. Bloke: gimme a rum with coke inside a balloon glass and squeeze a Lemon in that shit!

  2. You can also just have the lime and soda, it's quite nice without the vodka.