Wednesday, 8 April 2009

My Drink Problem

I have been drunk many times this season. More times than I had planned. Considering that last season I was virtually teetotal, it's a worrying trend.

Encouragingly though, I have yet to resort to drinking alone. I only indulge in company. Good company.

My mistake lies in continually underestimating the potency of the mixture before me.

Several times, supping nonchalantly from what I consider a benign brew, I have risen suddenly to my feet, only to feel that unsteady, heady rush of intoxication. I check the label. What is this stuff?

Soon habits form, unnoticed.

It's true, though, I am also guilty of mixing my drinks.

On the day of the Arsenal game, heavy with foreboding, I could only face a weak juice. Then, after 20 minutes or so, I was bought a pint of Hangeland's Desire - in a tall glass - a reliable Norweigan draft. The session ended with me showering all my fellow drinkers with a rare, sparkling wine, called Victory. That was some lock-in.

For the Chelsea match my stomach was in knots; the DTs even returned. After an hour and a half of tension, I had had my fill. I was wearying of all this, and wondering how I would be able to face the neighbours in the morning. I knocked back a final, sorrow-drowning gin when, just before last orders, a generous American chap barrelled in through the saloon doors and stood everyone a celebratory tipple. It was a great leveller.

As well as punctuating happy events, drink can also aggravate depression.

A few times recently I have been seated in my local, in my usual seat, safe in the knowledge that a predictable, uneventful evening lay ahead. The bar had been well-stocked with anticipation, and all the punters' favourites were available (Murphy's stout and, for those preferring shorts, a mature Johnson's malt). Such is the hubris of the addict. Of course, each time I became aware of the rising chorus of northern voices (Blackburn, I think; maybe Hull), I should have known. On both occasions, the wine I ordered was corked, and we spent the rest of the night sipping defizzed coke through a straw.

Last Saturday was a day of reckoning for me in my battle with the booze. I had been seated at a busy bar for 45 minutes or so, surrounded by day-tripping Liverpudlians. I was desperately trying to get served. It was no fun. As time passed, however, my mood brightened. A master of self-deception, as most of us drinkers are, I ordered a magnum of champagne. Seize the day! I told myself. I had been struggling with the corkscrew for a couple of minutes when suddenly I felt a punch to the kidneys - I reckon it was one of the Liverpool crowd. The next thing I knew I was retching in the Stevenage Road gutter.

Never again, I said. Enough is enough.

At this point most sane people would climb aboard the wagon. Tell themselves that it's just not worth the pain and the heartache.

Others might suggest that it's just a social thing: "I can stop at any time."

Many, of course, like me, are weak. We opt for the hair of the dog.

Well, what can I say? I've heard of a hostelry called Eastlands, and I figured that just one more sip of the stuff wouldn't hurt.

Fancy a couple of halves, anyone?

1 comment:

Chopper said...

This is perfect. Sums up what it's all about. Not just us I suspect.

My name is Chopper - I have a Fulham problem.