Dry January: The Calm Before the Drought

Written by on December 31, 2011 in Seasonal - 1 Comment

This a guest post by Grace Fletcher-Hackwood.

Grace (Image: DC Sterne)

I’d say my drinking habits are about average for someone from my age and background. In other words: inconsistent.

I don’t really drink at home – I’m much more likely to be found with a cup of tea than a beer or a glass of wine – and my family don’t make a habit of getting the booze out for special occasions, so Christmas, for example, wasn’t a particularly drunken event.

Weekends and special (and not-so-special) occasions with my friends are a different story. Friday nights at O’Sheas in Manchester means a good few pints of Guinness. Saturday nights dancing on Canal Street mean shots, lager and more shots. Even a couple of hours playing pool on a weekday evening usually means taking advantage of a special offer on a carafe of wine.

I’m five foot one, not especially heavy, and I’m usually drinking with men – which means trying to keep up with drinkers who are bigger and more practised than me. And I’d be the first to admit that I don’t always handle it very well. What’s more, as I get older, the hangovers are starting to take up more and more of my time.

I know that, like a lot of women my age, I probably go over my recommended number of units of alcohol on one or two nights a week. And I know, too, that no matter how many nights in you have with a cuppa, you’re not allowed to ‘save up’ your units and carry them over. After a pretty heavy night just before Christmas, I woke up with one clear thought in my fuzzy head: I’m twenty-six now. It’s time to think about the drink.

I’ve tried ‘dry spells’ before, with varied success – I’ve done ‘detox January’ a couple of years running, did a similiar ‘sober October’ this year to recover from a party-heavy September, and once gave up drinking for Lent. I found both up- and downsides: the feeling of waking up and knowing, before I even open my eyes, that I definitely don’t have a hangover, was quite a winner. Being the only person sipping tap-water while everyone else is necking cold bottles of beer or iridescent cocktails brought a novel feeling of virtuousness – at first. But before long I was feeling more resentful than smug. And every time I’ve tried it, I’ve been queuing up at the bar a good few days before the scheduled end date.

I woke up with one clear thought in my fuzzy head: I’m twenty-six now. It’s time to think about the drink.

So this year I’ve got a good idea what to look out for when it comes to triggers and temptations. Do I really need to go to the pub after meetings? I have a Muslim friends in politics (some of whom have been trying to persuade me to cut back the drink for a while), so it must be possible to be a dry politician (well, some people might say all politicians are dry, but I think that means something else…)

Probably the biggest test is going to be around the 20th – my friend Lou’s birthday. Lou is 1. one of my best friends; 2. a vodka connoisseur; 3. pretty knowledgeable about white wine; 4. the person who provided over a hundred vodka jelly shots for my housewarming party back in September; and 5. (this may go without saying) not a fan of this whole Dry January project. I don’t want to turn down any invitations from Lou, and I certainly don’t want to be a spoilsport on her birthday. Can I stay dry and stay sociable too? I hope so. Am I going to have to sit near a pot-plant to dispose of wine without causing offence? Maybe.

I’m not convinced I’ll keep up the alcohol-free lifestyle after January 31st, or even that I’ll get through the month without a moment of weakness – but I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to give my body a break, and to observe the changes I have to make. After all – how hard can it be?

Grace is 26 and lives in Fallowfield, Manchester, with too many cats. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/msgracefh

One Comment on "Dry January: The Calm Before the Drought"

  1. Tim January 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm · Reply

    I got here by googling “Dry January”. My resolve is weakening, partly since discovering that a few friends are going to the Winter Ales Festival in Manchester this Friday. Apparently the last one in Manchester for a while.

    So given that I wasn’t searching on any local terms I was particularly surprised to discover that not only is this a post from someone local to me, but the painting behind you in the photo was by my friend Anna, and the beardy man holding the baby and peering over your head was based on me and my daughter, from a photo she took outside Platt Hall. Small world!

    Good luck on Friday. For my sins, even if do have a couple of pints on a Friday night I still usually make it to Platt Fields for the free 5k Parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning – about 150 runners meet by that painting 🙂 . I don’t know if it balances out the beer, but it makes me feel less guilty and I’d highly recommend it!

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