That's it. Done.
366 days without an alcoholic beverage. (Who would pick a leap year? Honestly.) At least it was an uneventful year...oh wait.
I took a year off the booze with the help of OYNB.com They sent me a short video each day, gave me access to resources, and most importantly, an invitation to a Slack channel of fellow pilgrims on their way to an alcohol-free year.
Within the Slack, several of us formed a gang of our own. In a triumph of imagination, we called it Gang With No Name, or GWNN for short. We shared our fears, our worries and our triumphs. Here was a corner of the world, where people understood. Invaluable.
Why did I take the challenge? Drinking was my favourite pastime. I was first to the bar and often, the last there too. OK, sometimes, I have that extra drink that I shouldn't, and move from “life and soul of the party” to “annoying, drunken idiot”, but that happens to the best of us, doesn't it?
All my life, I have been prone to excess. Some people appear to have an off button, I don’t. I’m not even sure there’s an emergency brake. I do possess a strong homing instinct, and have navigated my way through unfamiliar streets to hotel rooms despite being incapable of speech or recalling my own name. Perhaps I’m part giant-pigeon?
I wasn't having vodka for breakfast or anything, but in my heart I knew that I was drinking too much, so a one-year break seemed just the thing.
At this point, I should regale you with tales of my noble struggle with the demon drink, and so I shall...oh alright, it wasn't that bad.
Excess, I can do. Abstinence, too. Moderation, that’s more of a struggle. I'm an all or nothing sort of guy.
It's been a year since I woke, feeling tired, under-par and full of uncertain remorse. Middle-aged hangovers are turgid, guilt-tinged affairs, each longer than the last. They sap energy, well-being and self-respect. I don’t miss those.
So. What next?
Obviously, I need to immediately get stuck in. Champagne to start, then perhaps a full-bodied red, before settling down with a single malt or a cognac. Put this non-drinking malarkey to bed.
Ummm...actually, would you mind terribly if I didn't?
You see, I have enjoyed nights out, without alcohol. I know! Astonishing, isn't it? Next morning, I’m up at dawn, walking the dogs, feeling great. I’d rather like to keep that, thanks very much.
I’m certain that I shall have a tipple. Perhaps, I will gradually return to old habits, and bravely battle through the hangovers with a determined smile and a bracing walk, silently hankering for another challenge.
More likely, I shall be a hard-drinking, fun-loving fellow, first to the bar, and often last there too - only I’ll be on the lime and soda.