Friday, 25 January 2013

Giving up drinking (for a bit)

(I was going to post this at the beginning of January and then do a comparative piece in February, but got sidetracked. I am awfully sorry, therefore, for the delay).

What is the point of giving up drinking?  Rehab is for quitters, blah blah, blah.

This January I decided to see if I could quit beer (and indeed alcohol generally) for one month.  Why?  Well that's an interesting question.  In part it was personal challenge - the sort of pointless masculine test of mental strength, by which Gamma males are supposed to define their faculties.  It was also a response to post-Christmas guilt.  Having done my bit to party hard during the festive season, I got to Boxing Day feeling portly and guilty at the levels of my excess.  In short: physically and mentally jaded.  In truth also, having reached my late 30's, I have all of a sudden become [slightly] aware of my own mortality.  Perhaps that is being overdramatic.  Oh well, I like being dramatic, darling.  At the very least I have become aware of my own ability to pile on the pounds.

In any case, I decided to have a month off.

Now this presents a number of challenges, which are summarised as follows:

One) I spend most of my waking life daydreaming about beer
Two) All my social life revolves around pubs
Three) In these days of marriage, parenting and responsibility, it also happens that most of my active friends, are people from within my interest/hobby group (e.g. beer)
Four) I am a beer blogger.  Not drinking beer may have a potential impact on my output*
Five) Beer defines me, it makes me the interesting*** person I am

OK, so for a whole month, I have to deal with these things.  In that 'dealing', I will run into these sorts of problems:

i) Twitter.  All the people I follow on Twitter are beer people.  They will all be talking about the delicious beers they are drinking and the marvellous pubs they are in. There will be photos also.
ii) There will be times, like this week, where I have a spare hour after work, when I would usually nip into Brewdog Brum for a quick snifter. No more.
iii) Every time I get pasta or teabags out of my kitchen cupboard, I will see this.  It will hurt me. 

iv) What will I do in the evenings?
v) What will be my reward for a hard day/week at work?  It'll have to be a Biscuit Boost or summat.

All of that is, of course, rather flippant.  It's also true BTW, but it is flippant.  The serious point underlying all of this, and yes there is one, is this: have I been drinking too much?  How much beer is too much?

Being a beer geek is brilliant. We all know that.  But isn't all this beer talk getting a bit much?  In terms of being part of the beer community, I sometimes feel pressure to keep up, pressure to try the latest beers, hit the latest pubs and collect enough fresh experiences, to fuel Twitter and Ratebeer conversations over the coming days/months.  Ratebeer urges me to try new beers and keep rating.  Twitter stokes the embers of beer desire, making me salivate via vicarious sampling.  Has anyone asked or dared to wonder whether we {me}are drinking too much?  It's different for every person (obviously) but for a fingersnap of time over Xmas, I felt perhaps I was over my limit.  So I decided to take a step back, a chance for reflection and a breath.

Yet darker thoughts also cloud my mind; namely, at what point does extreme beer geekery/obsessiveness become borderline alcoholism?  What do beer geeks think about alcoholism?  Do we turn a blind eye to this potential outcome, or do we refuse to let the possibility enter our jolly good world?  If we don't ever talk about the big AA, why not?  

Yes, there's a lot of bravado in beer and drinking generally.  There's also a lot of escapism and making merry.  I'm prepared to spend this empty month, making sure that beer is an accoutrement to my life rather than something which I'm using to fill a yawning chasm in my soul.      

What an effing downer.

*Who knows it may actually make it more** interesting***.
**Although 'more' is a very perjorative term
***Ditto for 'interesting'

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I've always liked a drink but since joining Twitter last year I've become pretty obsessed with beer to the point where it's all I seem to think about. This got me asking myself the same questions you raised about alcoholism.."do I have a problem?" Well, maybe I do but it's not alcoholism, I think it's just geeky obsession. I'm a modern day equivalent of the sandal wearing beer ticker of old but instead of a notepad I have Twitter and Untappd. It's a hobby that's getting out of hand.
    I probably have three or for beers Friday, the same Saturday, maybe one Sunday and a sneaky glass midweek. Too much? I don't think so, quality over quantity, and round about my government sanctioned 21 units :-)
    So, for me I think it's a hobby (obsession!) but it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on things and have a couple of days off every now and then. Hope the abstinence goes well!