I have decided to attempt giving up refined sugar – my joyous diet of muffins, choc bars, and nostalgic biscuits such as Clubs and Penguins. This is not due to any fad, merely intrigue. About four years ago, I smoked my last cigarette. I stood with Steve Lamacq watching a band that would go on to go nowhere, in a tent at Reading Festival, and when that was stubbed out, I thought I’d attempt a cigarette free life. The motivations included being a father and seeing Christopher Hitchens talking after his first bout of cancer treatment. I was no smoker like him, I lacked the elegance of inhalation that can also be seen from Peter Cook and his louche hands on 70s chat shows, and I was considerably lower on quantity. For some idiotic reason, I thought I would give up coffee and alcoholo at the same time. Though the plan was never to return to cigarettes, the coffee and alcohol was part of an experiment and I have no idea why I did it. Two months of headaches and a general antsiness, while also discovering that it wasn’t alcohol that made me a dick late at night, I was just a bit of dick at times. It went deeper than mood altering Jameson’s, I inherently enjoyed being facetious on the internet even when sober. I reasoned that if I gave up all three, when I finally went back to the other two, I wouldn’t give a jot about cigarettes, so great would be my elation at drinking thick dark coffee and whisky.
Whatever, I have not as yet returned to cigarettes.
When giving up imbibed chemicals that have become habitual, you can worry if your personality was partly crafted by nicotine and tar. Did I need those nervous cigarettes I’d smoked at stage doors to give me the impetus to take the stage. Would my brain malfunction, the words dry, the mind jumpiness cease? It doesn’t seem to have done as far as I can see, if anything, I more frenetic than every before and I am sure the cleaner lungs are useful when I decide to bellow a Brian Blessed impersonation.
Ten Months ago, I decided to give up alcohol, this time as an experiment in ending, or slowing down, my insomniac rages of sleeplessness. It seems to have helped, mainly because it is easier to argue with yourself when sober. The anger of sleeplessness is not so extreme, there are no more holes in the plaster behind my bed. And again, I worried that giving up booze would somehow change me. I always had a few pints after a gig, I had persuaded myself that it helped switch my mind off (or something similar), I feared that sobriety would lead to even more sleeplessness. It would also be much harder to get a bit weepy in a Premier Inn when watching 24 Hours in A&E, I would live with sober emotions, my id angrily caged as my superego sipped lemon tea and read more. Again, I seem to have found it has made my onstage insanity greater, my loonish yelling more preposterous, my face more possessed by 1000 demons and a clown on a unicycle.
Now the sugar experiment begins. How long will I manage? What contribution did Lion bars play in my stage manner? Three days in and I have noticed some stomach rumbling and colon twitching, but that may be due to an increase in salad and the problems of digesting beetroot.
Is veganism next? No, I must always let Michael Legge have that high horse, or tofu alternative of a high horse, to look down at me from.
Or will Edinburgh Fringe crush me and you’ll see a bloated, flatulent shell of humanity, slumped in the street surrounded by milkshakes, KitKats, a bonfire of Marlboro and a bottle of Wray and Nephew overproof rum.
(I also like the idea of returning treats to the status of treats. I gorge on things as if they were mundane. I may return to the excitement of being a child in a sweetshop.My first temptation in the desert, or 2324 from Euston, was carrying a box of Milk Tray all the way home. I was peckish. I looked. I imagined. Then I cried, “get thee behind me Turkish delight, and that goes for you too Strawberry Sensation”.)
Like Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, I might save it all for old age. At 67, I’ll start smoking a pipe, ingesting blotter acid, and hanging around with dolphins.