In 2020, I completed the One Year No Beer challenge. I abstained from alcohol for an entire year. I’m guessing that my previous alcohol-free year would have been around 1982.

I hadn’t woken up in a ditch, but I knew I was drinking too much. I have been since, say... 1988. Mostly, I’m a binge drinker. No red wine with the cornflakes, but party hard on a Friday night. As time went by, the week seemed to have more and more Fridays.

As a drinker, have I done things that I regret? Hell, yes. I remember lots of times I was a complete arse, and I have forgotten many more. I soon learned to bluff the morning. I assumed that if I caused offence, somebody would let me know, otherwise, keep smiling. “Hangxiety”, an unadvertised joy of the heavy drinker, the stress and fear of having absolutely no idea what was said, what was done, by whom, to whom, for a large portion of the evening. I've struggled through days, feeling crap, producing nothing but a series of bad smells.

I enjoyed my year off, but resolved to become a sensible, moderate, drinker. A couple of glasses with supper. That sort of thing. Oh, and maybe a couple of ice-cold beers on a hot day after a golf. Oh, and you can’t beat a crisp white wine, late in the afternoon on the terrace, can you? On some days, here on the island paradise - I could have a couple of moderate beers at golf, oh alright, maybe three, followed by some of that crisp white through to dinner. Then an aperitif or two, a bottle of red and a brandy or four to finish. Moderate? Oh go on, pour me a moderate one.

I’m married to one of those people who can take or leave a drink. She’ll have a G&T, enjoy it and leave it at that. That’s what I want to be.

Here’s the thing. I’ll never be that.

I can’t do moderation. I’m not wired like that. I’ve tried through 2021 and half of 2022, and I just keep getting it wrong.

I’d decided that I just lack the control. A bit depressing really.

Turns out, there’s lots of chemistry going on. Neural pathways and stuff. Who knew?

I’m bloody good at drinking. I love it. Out with family and friends, eating, drinking and laughing. What’s better than that?

In 2020, I discovered that actually, out with family and friends, drinking and laughing is amazing - with or without alcohol. In fact, it’s quite nice to remember the whole day too and not wake full of anxiety. I was surprised how easy I found abstinence. I wonder if it will be the same this time around?

“How do you know that someone has quit drinking? Don't worry, they’ll tell you.” I’m going to try not to be that guy, but if you’re interested, consider throwing me a couple of quid, becoming a member below. Call it buying me an alcohol-free beer. There’s an alcohol-free thread in the members’ slack.

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