Tuesday, 30 June 2009

21: A world without Beer: Week Two.

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

It's 10pm, just getting dusky and I'm out in the garden. There's a hedgehog down the bottom there eating some dog food my better half put out for it. It's been blisteringly hot today, so it's gorgeously cool right now. I don't expect you to be bothered by this, I'm just setting the scene.

I am, of course, enjoying all of this sans-alcohol. [sigh]

Actually, truth-be-told, I've had hardly anyof the usual withdrawal pains. I put a bottle of white in the ice-box for our lass on Friday, and pouring it for her, it almost had that sweet/pungent aroma that daytime alcoholics have about them. It wasn't trampy wine either, it was JP Chenet (you can argue amongst yourselves regarding the tramp-level of various wines), so I figure that's just my brain over-compensating and telling me that even the nice alcohol is evil. Mind, she had a bottle of Weston's Cider on Saturday, and it smelled fucking gorgeous, so I don't know what my brain's doing there.

I'm usually at least craving a pint, but even in this heat, and even getting frustrated as I do with some of the dickheads at work, I'm... strangely fine. Of course, I haven't been to a pub yet. Years ago when me and my best-buddy used to take a month off, we'd go along to our locals on a Saturday night and take the piss out of people as usual, drinking pints of Coke all night. All well and good, but it gets horribly fucking depressing at around 10:30, when everyone's pissed and you're not. It didn't take us long to knock pubs on the head when we weren't drinking.

A bit like on Eastenders and the like when you'll get people popping into the pub for an orange juice, because their character doesn't drink. I know they're trying to advance the narrative, but that doesn't fucking happen.

Anyhow, by my calculations I'm due to start drinking in earnest once more on the 27th of September. There's a nagging voice at the rear of my brain suggesting that come that fateful Sunday, I'll be the one to say "Actually, I won't bother. I'm a better person without the filthy drink. I've turned over a new leaf, and I'm going to preach to everyone about it!" I mean, I can't actually imagine myself being that twat, but I'm disturbed that 15 days into my abstinence, I've had barely a passing thirst for the Devil's piss.

Fuck it, you have my word, here and now, that on Sunday 27th September 2009, I shall have beer for breakfast. I may actually cave in and go rabid at midnight on the Saturday, who knows.

+++ +++

In other news I've been spending my time (as predicted) either at the cinema or on my PSP. Reviews I'll be posting up shortly:
• Transformers
• Terminator Salvation
• The Hangover
• Year One

All enjoyable, but at very different levels.

+++ +++

In other, other news, Michael Jackson died last week (as you've probably heard - if not, sorry for breaking it to you like that). Can't say I was a huge fan of his, in fact the only album of his I bought was Bad.

The news was breaking in the UK at around 9pm on Thursday, and by Friday morning, the media was on fire. By about 10am on Friday morning, I was sick of the whole circus, and I hadn't even had the TV or radio on - this was just from people talking about it and reactions on the internet. Oh, and...

By 10am I'd had 19, yes NINETEEN jokes texted through to me. It petered out after that so that by the end of the day it had been around 30. I didn't bother to forward any for the reasons I'll get onto in a moment. My best mate texted me commenting that it was a sad day. I agreed with him, and said that it's always a sad day when someone dies that was loved; but I was torn between disgust at the rabid fans that had never met the guy, crying like one of their own children had died - and disgust at the same old tired fucking jokes being trotted out AGAIN. The jokes fell into three categories:
• He's white, not black
• He bums children
• He's had plastic surgery

The validity of these claims aside, it's the same shit that gets hauled out every time he's in the news. It's not a lack of respect for the recently-deceased that galls me, (I send the sickest jokes with the best of'em), it's the lack of imagination that's making Orange, Vodafone and O2 a shitload of cash in the middle of a recession. Later in the day jokes started to incorporate Farrah Fawcett and 'blame it on the boogie', which, while more amusing, are still pointless to forward on to people when 18 million people are circulating the same joke.

As heartless as it may sound, I'm not really bothered about the whole thing. He was good at what he did, which is all I really want from any person, but it's not like he found the cure for cancer, y'know?

Anyhow, after relating the above to my mate, he told me I should get back on the beer as soon as possible, as he can't cope with me talking sense all the time. I certainly put it down to the lack of alcohol; it seems to have levelled out any mood-swings I might have had by making me permanently fucking annoyed with the world.

As they say in the Jedi Temple:
My glass isn't half-empty... it's FUCKING empty.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Friday, 19 June 2009

20. A world without Beer : Week One.

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Yes, I gave beer a capital letter. It's like a friend, it means that much to me. I started (properly) drinking in about 1990, at around age seventeen. Yes, I'm that old. Seventeen is actually fairly 'late' by today's standards, and things were no different back in the day. But I looked a young-seventeen (as today I like to think I look a young thirty-six), and trying to get served in pubs before that age just wasn't going to happen. I started on Cider because Lager, Bitter and Ale all tasted foul, and spirits would just be stupid. I don't recall any 'alco-pops' in 1990, but I believe Bacardi-Breezers were new in 1993? A good friend weaned me onto the Brown (...Newcastle Brown Ale, not heroin) in 1991, and when I moved down south in '93, I figured that would be a good time to start on the Lager. I already had an on-off relationship with Jack, but that's another blog.

It's not that I consider myself an alcoholic or anything, but I've always had a healthy fascination with booze, and I'm always keen to find new limits and combinations. I don't enjoy being drunk, you understand; but I fucking love getting drunk.

Anyhow, it is with a heavy (and sober) heart, that I am writing about my latest stupid experiment: No alcohol for 100 days.

Yes, you read that right, and no, I'm not sure that I do know what the fuck I'm thinking. But I'll give it a go. I've had a month-off on many occasions, but it gets easier each time. I even did two-months at one point. But it's been a good-long-while since I took any time off, and I feel like a challenge, dammit! Richard Herring did the same thing last year, but I'm not sure if his hundred were intentional, or if he just gave up at that point.

I should point out now that I've made some concessions;
• My fianceé's birthday in July
• One of the nights when we're having a short holiday in August
• My best buddy's birthday, also in August.

Now, the fact that I'll be drinking on those days does NOT mean that they'll be a 24-hour, Amaretto-fuelled blitzkrieg, just that I'll be enjoying a refined drink in good company. Well, thinking about the third one on the list, who knows? I'll have to monitor that one.


Of course when I'm not drinking, I end up explaining it to bemused people far too often, and usually end up telling people I'm on antibiotics. It's just easier sometimes.

I also get what is now a classic question from people who don't quite 'get it': "Oh, but you can have one beer, can't you?
...Yes. I can have one beer in the same way that a Muslim can have one sausage.

I could have twelve beers if I wanted to, and on any other night, I just might - but just not for the next (insert seemingly insane number here) days.

...I'm just getting that one out of my system now, because it's bound to happen.


One of the great things about no-beer, is you suddenly have the mental wherewithall to get stuff done. I've got a fucking mountain of jobs that I've never got finished; four PTN videos to edit, that Doctor Who/GTA artwork to complete my GTA trilogy, getting the last Mark&Lard show onto CDs with tracks in the right places, the list is ridiculous.

Not that I'll suddenly get an extra four hours magically inserted into every day, of course, but I'll be less inclined to lose time by having a beer and playing Vice City Stories. Although I'm not giving up VCS, that'd be really stupid, so there's always that avenue of procrastination to lose myself down.

Which is good, because one of the pain-in-the-arse things about no-beer is having to think all the time. I don't know how some people cope without that 'Standby' switch.

Still, at the end of it all, I'll save a bit of money, lose a bit of weight, and might actually be a better person for it.


So, the last day I had a drink was on Monday the 15th June (because the PTN festival ran past midnight on Sunday). And I haven't re-done the maths with the three concession-days, but I think it's late September when I can get trolleyed again. 25th-ish? I'll work it out.

When you're taking a month off, the first week and the last week are the hardest. The two in between are relatively easy, because in the first week, your body (and mind)'s almost in shock at losing its regular "get me the fuck out of here" drug. In the last week, that beautiful bottle of Newcastle Brown you've kept in the fridge for a month is like a light at the end of the tunnel; a life-preserver to a drowning man.

I honestly can't say what this is going to be like, but I'll keep you informed. Probably with belligerent rantings, when I'd sell my own family for a can of Skol, but hey.
At the moment it's been less than a week, and everything's cool. It felt a bit weird to finish early on a Friday and not pick beer up on the way home, but I had quite a bit to do so once I was home it wasn't an issue. Ho-hum.

Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

...well, apart from a stroke, obviously.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.