So, don’t get excited, I didn’t have a sober month- let’s not get carried away. But I did go through my longest period without drinking in probably some years (pre university).
At the start of the month I bought a crate of beer, within a week it was gone and so I agreed to not buy any more beer until the end of the month.
Did I manage?
Strictly speaking no. Over the next three weeks I had a glass of red wine, a craft beer at a food festival and well actually that’s it.
Quite good going
Was it easy?
Yes and no.
Yes, because there wasn’t really any urge to have more- aside from when I saw it in the shop and time like that.
No, because I was quite aware that were I alone I wouldn’t have managed it.
That’s not to say my family ‘got me through’ anything, just that I was scared of my partner kicking my ass. That’s not really fair, in reality she simply serves as a small reminder that I had pledged not to drink. She’s also very scary.
It’s strange, whilst I felt no urge to drink (though I’d have liked to) it was always there
– I could drink
– I’d like a drink
– I want to drink
But at no point did I ‘need’ to drink.
So it wasn’t some big learning experience, I simply experienced more proof that I don’t want to stop, and I probably couldn’t. However, drinking a crate in a week is well beyond a sensible amount. It’s too much, I’m not a carefree student anymore.
This week I bought another crate. It’s the 3rd today and the case isn’t yet open, so the chances of it being gone by the 7th are slim. But I also fully intend to ration myself.
No, not ration- that suggests a specific limit. But I will not buy any more beer this month. So if I drink it, it’s gone.
Now, of course I’m in the pub right now so I’m drinking beer. Were I at home the crate would likely be open and I’d have a few drinks.
Where does that leave me?
So, I have terrible terrible handwriting, bad enough that I really should have been a doctor. I didn’t always, I used to have fairly neat handwriting, but over time it became messier and messier as my writing sped up.
My standard writing looks something like this
Often I get told it’s unreadable, and if you look at it as a block that may well be true, but when you focus on individual words it soon pieces together.
However, when I get a few pints inside me it all goes wrong
Still if you focus on individual words it’s still readable, but it’s starting to become a scrawl.
A few pints later you’re in real trouble
The scrawl is fully established and it’s essentially unreadable without completely focusing on sections at a time and making sensible guesses and hoping you’re right.
I’m hoping I’m able to read it to translate it to the blog, so fingers crossed. But I may need to work on my handwriting if I’m going to write and drink at the same time
So, I’m sat here watching a few old fellas playing pool and I’m reminiscing. I suck, normally when I play I’m not wearing my glasses so can’t see the end of the table, but even with them on I suck. This of course is aside from the fact that I haven’t played in about two years.
It wasn’t always that bad, well it was, I was always crap, but once upon a time- at uni- I would play weekly at the strangely unpopular £1 a pint Tuesday nights at the student union, when the table was normally empty. I improved over the 18 months we played, but still lost far more often than I won.
But now I’m sitting watching a game and can see every single shot they plan to make.
so am I latently good?
I would say no, latent means nothing without some actual ability- and practice of course.
But I’m watching and I can see every shot. And it goes beyond that. When a shot fails I can see what they wanted and this isn’t like watching a near miss and thinking they wanted to pot that, but seeing where they wanted the ball to finish.
Next time I’m in the pub alone (most of the times I’m there) I may just fire a pound in the table and see what I can do.
So, tonight if was sat in the pub with a pint, my pad and a pen just scribbling writings down (I think I was writing about rough hands at the time) when a woman, clearly with a couple of drinks in her sat down in front of me. It took a few moments for me to break my concentration before looking up to see a woman in her forties looking at me and waiting for a response (see my post about stereotypical mid life drinkers)
“Pardon?” I ask
“Don’t worry, I just wanted to ask what you were writing.”
“Um…” I pause, not really sure how to explain it
“Is it a diary or journal?”
“It’s ok, nothing to be embarrassed about.”
At this point another woman joins us, this one younger, probably early to mid twenties, a little too skinny with a head and eyes a little too big, wearing a baggy top that you only see on girls that are skinny but obsessed with their weight.
“I’m just asking him what he’s writing.” Says the older woman
“I’m just writing what comes to me.” Yeah good one, a good way of explaining it, “I’m doing a creative writing course.”
This is a lie, but Iv looked at doing one so seemed an easy out. What followed was a few questions from the younger girl about where, etc before it got more specific
“So why write here in the pub?”
“It’s just a change of scenery, I can absorb the atmosphere and also get a short break from the house, being a stay at home dad and carer.”
“Oh wow, so this is your downtime?” The older one
“Yeah if you like.”
“So what are you writing? I have an idea for a fantastic plot for a romantic novel,” the young ones getting enthusiastic, “two people meet and really dislike each other, but over time they fall in love.”
“Yeah that’s good,” I lie, “I’m actually writing something a bit more dystopian.” Hoping this will put them off
“Oh wow, have you read brave new world, or heart of darkness?”
“Iv read the second yeah, not brave new world.”
Some more chitchat about it then they go back off to their friends apologising for interrupting me.
I go back to my writing grumbling internally about being interrupted in a public place- what are the chances right?
A little later I’m still writing away when a familiar voice interrupts me
“So how old are your children?”
Looking up again I see the younger girl sat at the next table surrounded by handbags as she’s seemingly been abandoned for the cigarette run.
“Six and nearly two,” I reply always happy to talk about my kids, “a boy and a girl.”
“Aw, I don’t think I’d be ready to have kids, I think I’d be selfish and focus on my career so I can provide.”
“That’s fair enough, having one changes things mind.”
“Yeah, hey you wanna hear a sad story, the reason we’re out drinking tonight?” I sense instability, “I saw someone die Monday. Oh and isn’t it sad that I’m 24 and haven’t ever been in a long term relationship.”
“Well that’s a pretty crap week then.” I’m out of this conversation, she’s clearly got some issues. Fortunately her friends arrived back and I was able to stop talking to them.
Afterwards I did feel some pity for her, obviously seeing someone die is going to be an issue, but more that she’s made this decision about not having children until she’s older when she clearly hasn’t even experienced love yet. She’s missing out. Unfortunately for her they left for the globe, I doubt they’ll find love there.
So, sat in the pub observing I think I can now accurately describe the stereotypical mid life drinker.
note, it’s Saturday night so it’s a very specific drunk group I’m watching
The Saturday night regular is somewhere between mid thirties to late forties, it’s hard to tell as a live of dull dreariness has ravaged them anyway.
With a few drinks in them the eyes have sunk in and every movements a stagger. Except the arm, that lift of the pint to the mouth is as steady as it needs to be.
The clothes are predictable, with the guys wearing either a short sleeves casual shirt or some form of football top, normally an england one. The women push just over the line of overdoing it, as it’s the highlight of their week and they can try on their latest primark/tk maxx trash.
You can’t work out which ones are the couples, as the whole group flows around each other a little too drunk and a little too touchy.
The sales songs are on the jukebox, the ‘classics’ at least the ‘karaoke classics’
Banter with the landlords common, at least in so far as he humours them whilst their hands are in their pockets.
And this is their Saturday night, any more would be speculation and that would fit more into my backstories, although I’d bet there are kids at home.
Other observations I made of pub regulars
You can always tell the farmers and girlfriends and the farmers look exactly like farmers, but with clean versions of their daily wear, whilst the girls massively overdo it with sparkly black dresses that look far too out of place in a small village pub
Banter with the landlord is common enough that the younger guys try it
“Here you go”
“Aw thanks for the drink, jim”
Irish look (I’ll get to the Irish look in a future post) it’s basically a don’t fuck about look.
So, I tried out the villages other pub tonight, on recommendation from my partner (who hasn’t been). It took ages to find, because it’s tucked away off the main road in a strip of houses, just short of the country lanes bit.
Now, local pubs are strange, full of locals, and potentially yokels.
Anyway, I go in, and immediately walk into a guy playing a fruit machine. I was looking where I was going, it’s just that the machine is behind the door and to play you run the risk of getting walked into every time someone opens the door. Making my apologies I almost take a dart to the head as people are playing. Darts? Iv not seen a pub with darts in years, probably health and safety.
I make my way to the bar and take in the details, from the rough looking old woman at the bar, to the crappy cling film wrapped cheese rolls behind the bar. I order a pint of doom bar (always seems to make it into local pubs) and try to find a seat. The pub is a weird u shape, with not many seats aside from some stools at the bar, a couple of tables and a long bench around one ‘leg’ of the u. I then take in the pub. Local pubs always have crappy paraphernalia all over the walls, that once upon a time probably held some significance, but nobodies left alive now to remember. The usual stuff is horse brasses, pictures of the pub in the past. This one also had random horse photos and drawing, a set of old scales, with most of the weights missing and in the window a globe.
This is fine, the pubs called the globe, so it makes sense, but the globe itself was a crappy old thing, that had a plug but clearly no sign that it works. It’s the kind you’d pull out of a skip because nobody could possibly want it.
So the pub was weird, I finished up my pint and strolled round to the other one, and sat amongst more familiar and welcoming locals