I am currently experimenting with sobriety.
I don’t get drunk too often now anyway. There is an age when slurring, carousing and teetering precariously looks unbecoming, and I reckon that is 44 years old. I might take that look up again at a later date, much as if I live to 80 I have decided I will start smoking a pipe.
The last time I remember being momentously drunk enough for a hangover that lasted for two dusks was after doing a TV discussion show with Peter Hitchens and Richard Coles. It was not intentional. Having been abstemiously sober for the late night live broadcast, I then failed to notice the speed of post show Merlot consumption. This was also the weekend where my cold urticaria was back, so the next day, in the cold air, I was a sledgehammer-headed and welt-swollen inebriate wandering through the galleries of Glasgow.
My alcohol avoidance is part of an attempt to crush my insomnia (see insomnia blog should you wish to)
Drinking is on the list of the many things people say when you can’t sleep, “have you tried not drinking alcohol/licorice tea/ blue light/ sleeping in sawdust with mice/punching walls until you can punch them no more screaming ‘shut up brain! shut up! why must you keep talking’ ”. I mainly blame my brain rather than my diet, but as the chemicals I consume may make it teeter, why not replace beer with blueberry tea? (in writing that sentence I think I may have convinced myself to return to beer). I wouldn’t mind my brain being overactive if its activity led to me solving equations, comprehending continental philosophy and seeing further than the stars, but it’s more like being stuck in a small car with an angry and sullen child who sometimes starts singing too loudly.
The first problem of giving up drinking is its ritual place in the gig day.
Post gig boozing is part of the regime of performing. I generally don’t drink at anytime during a show, but afterwards I have a brief sojourn as an August Gloop of Guinness believing it to be a treat and as well as system of washing away the adrenalin that will otherwise keep my internal monologue performing as if it was on at the Palladium.
During one tour, in a bid to ensure the second half didn’t overrun grotesquely, I would place a cold pint of lager on the stage. I would not be allowed to consume it until the show ended. This was my Ice Cold in Alex de-Doddifying system. More often than not I drank warm lager a couple of hours later.
To be an edgy, rebel comic, you must also stand with beer in hand, as the audience admire your swagger. Fortunately, I am not edgy comic, though perhaps the rebel comic would be standing with cloudy lemonade in hand abusing the boozing of the pissed up audience that are the landscape before them. Save the rebel on stage beer swilling for those Saudi Arabia gigs.
Ten days in and, despite three nights where I have found myself in a free booze situation, I have remained like a monk. Actually, not like a monk, there always making high strength wine and toxic liqueurs, more like a Mullah.
Nevertheless, there is still an itchy twitchiness when every is drinking except you. Rationally, I do not want a drink, yet conversation seems more difficult and annoying.
“ah but that’s because they have all become annoying drunks”
On all occasions I was with interesting people who remained interesting as they drank, but inside I thought, “I want to go and be quiet somewhere”. Underneath it, has drink become so much of a cornerstone of socialising that without it I wish to retreat into a book? The older I am, the harder it has become to socialise for no reason. I like mixing with people in green rooms before and after shows or while working on some venture, but older I have become, the more everything must have “a point”. I can even make myself believe that being on twitter too much has some point. I can kid myself that it is some writing exercise and may help hone ideas or create new avenues of imagination (a few twitter spats have become material, so it has paid over…perhaps). When I was younger I could happily go drinking for no reason in the afternoon, play bad snooker and talk about what my future might be. It wasn’t drinking, it was a planning meeting near the quiz machine. No more time for that now, things to be done. Those days of dreaming while drinking have been demolished because eventually you’ve got to do something or all you’ve got are those daily different imagined futures which can never happen because you’ll be busy the next day imagining another future while staring at the smoked glass of the saloon bar. You don’t want to be Billy Liar, with suitcase in hand, watching another train to London depart.
I started cutting down for stereotypical bibliophil reasons. I realised that after a few drinks, the next morning I couldn’t remember details of the book I had been reading on the train home.
Every time that I think I may not be able to relax without it, I think of the drunk man I saw punching a bus stop near Liverpool Street a few days ago, and that helps me cope with the fennel tea alternative.
The main problem is, when giving something up, you can’t help but babble on about giving it up. So rather than being a boring drunk, who at least may later entertain you by falling over a thing or not being able to work out how to let themselves out of the toilet, leading to screaming and weeping like a cut price, half cut Houdini, you are trapped with someone in command of their senses droning on about why they gave up drinking, thank you for your time and patience.
I am not actually giving up drinking, it’s just a half term holiday from it, so don’t go “ahahahaha, I see your drinking again then eh? so couldn’t manage to give up”, Just buy me a pint and then watch me fall.
Tour dates coming up in Croydon, Shoreham, Newbury, Aldershot, Northampton plus 50 more from Edinburgh to Exeter via Manchester . Details here
New update for Cosmic Genome app incl Richard Dawkins, Dave Gorman and Brian Cox HERE