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Tuesday 15th January 2008

Days Without Alcohol - 16.

It's all going very well so far on the not drinking front. I am feeling happier and healthier almost every day, despite the occasional crash day and the world seems like a good and beautiful place to be. Though looking back at my first year of Warming Up, as I try to collate a possible book, I discovered this rather telling entry, which probably says it all.
I am not convinced that it's exactly the same this time. Though still amazed by the slow pace of time when one is sober - you don't live longer when you don't drink, it just feels like it - I am not craving booze at all. And although I think I have chosen to stay in more nights than I might have normally, when I do go out it is not impinging on my social life. If anything I am appreciating things more. The increased energy and well being, I hope, are making me a much more pleasant and fun person to be around.
I had a gig at the Albany in Great Portland Street tonight, in a new club run by my pal Danny Robins called Pubstock. It's like a festival in a pub, with a mixture of music, characters and comedy, even managing to have different stages within the confines of this tiny room, like a dry, mud free Glastonbury, with better sleeping arrangements (ie you can go home). After a bit of time to myself I was really delighted to see lots of friends and felt ebullient and up and had none of the self conscious social awkwardness that I remember from previous attempts to kick the sauce. The thing that most strikes me about my practical fear of not drinking in a social context is (as I think I've already said), that I have been short-changing myself. It's a bit sad if you think that the only way you're going to be interesting or entertaining to others is if you have had a couple of drinks. It is much more likely that the opposite will be true, as long as you can overcome these initial fears.
And though I recognise that this is just the kind of evangelical attitude that the younger me spoke of back in 2003 and that things might very well be different in a week or two, I am not actually advocating temperance. I don't think there's anything much wrong with drinking (for the vast majority of people) and it is one of life's pleasures and I fully intend to return to it at some point (ah, but when? That is the question for the handful of you hoping for a prize for guessing the right date). It's just quite interesting how engrained my beliefs about the necessity of booze have been. I felt that going on a date and not drinking would be awkward and make me look priggish or boring, but hopefully that hasn't been the case. Crapulousness just gives people an excuse for behaving outrageously, hopefully I am old enough now to not need an excuse anymore. And maybe I've had my fill of being outrageous anyway. And if not I have the unusual outlet of my stand up act to behave like a dick and that's a better buzz than absinthe as well as being slightly less dangerous.
As I walked through Hammermith, on the way to the swimming pool, feeling content and looking forward to the baked fish I would be having for lunch I wondered if I was finally in danger of acting my age, rather than my clown shoe size (actual shoe size 8 - clown shoe size, maybe 19, which I think is closer to the age I have been pretending to be of late). It didn't feel like a bad thing. In fact it felt like rather a good development. I don't think I am ever going to be like a typical 40 year old man though, so don't worry.
Ah how you will all mock me when in two weeks time I am extolling the liberating wonder of six pints of Guinness followed by sex on some bins with a transsexual stranger. But let me enjoy my moment of delusion.
I believe my great grandad was a Methodist (or Baptist, it's all the same) minister who was involved with the Temperance Movement, so maybe this is in the blood. Having said that I think one of my other great grandads was an aggressive alcoholic, so possibly this explains this battle within me. I must look into that - if you've got any info mum and dad then let me know. Probably safer to write stuff about my dead relatives in the long run.
The gig was OK, though the audience were a little reserved, but they seemed to enjoy it from what they said later (note to audiences - try to show your appreciation at the time). There was lots of great stuff on, but the highlight for me was an amazing rapper called Doc Brown, who you should definitely check out if you get the chance. He did a very impressive improvised rap, taking suggestions for subject matter from the audience and managed to create a brilliantly funny song about subjects as diverse as "animal husbandry", "leg waxing" and "vegetables" and "arrow", which put all the comedians on the bill to shame.
I may be 40 and clean, but I still appreciate hip hop. Oh yeah, I am so very, very cool.

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