Christmas chez Blonde is always a boozy affair. Dinner comes with white, red and dessert wines followed by port and coffee laced with a large dose of brandy. There’s always a drink beforehand, whether it’s gin and tonic or champagne. There’s champagne at midday, and mulled wine permanently on the go, and more often than not, several rounds of cocktails. Not so bad, you think, but when those rounds of cocktails start with margaritas served (in tall glasses. Hic) well before lunch (because why wouldn’t you want tequila at 11am?), it can all add up.
So, with a week spent at the parents’ full of the aforementioned, a few days at Blonde Towers drinking champagne with The Writer, Christmas lunches with journalists, Christmas parties with colleagues, a boozy lunch with TW’s mum and a New Year’s party full of more prosecco than is entirely good for anyone, I came to the end of December feeling decidedly pickled.
And so, stepping into virgin territory, I decided I would attempt a dry January. Before anyone says it: I know, I know: there’s no real point as far as health benefits go, and I’d be much better off having a couple of dry days a week (which often happens anyway, for what it’s worth) – blah, blah, blah. That’s not why I’m doing it: I’m doing it because the thought of anything alcoholic, be it the inside of a boozy choc or a full-blown double Tanqueray 10, makes me feel decidedly queasy.
It almost goes without saying that the announcement was met by laughs aplenty. The Redhead practically keeled over with giggles, and TW looked at me with as much cynicism as I’ve ever seen a man muster underneath a single raised eyebrow. But despite the disparagement of the nearest and dearest, I’ve stuck to my guns and have, at time of writing, not let an alcoholic drop past my lips since the last glass of fizz in the new year’s smallest hours.
And, boy is it hard.
It’s not particularly that I miss the booze – I found myself quite fancying a decent G&T after work on Friday, but the notion soon passed, and it’s not really cropped up since. In fact, quite the opposite: it’s been a relief not to drink anything alcoholic, the thought of which still isn’t vastly appealing.
Instead, it’s the reactions of other people who’re making the thing a bit of a challenge. Whilst I wholeheartedly expected the – admittedly entirely fair – mocking from friends, I didn’t expect to be judged so severely by people whose place isn’t to mock or belittle my lifestyle choices.
Last week, I went to the final Christmas party of the 2011 season. Whilst before Christmas, I’d have been knocking back the booze with the best of them, this time, I wasn’t.
“Why aren’t you drinking?” “I’m disappointed in you.” “Blonde, you’re letting the side down.” “Oh go on, stop being so boring.”
If I were pregnant (which I’m absolutely not. That I know of…) or on a course of antibiotics, it would be acceptable not to want to get blind drunk. Just not wanting to drink is, apparently, not.
Why do we put so much pressure on people who choose not to drink? There isn’t the same feeling about those who don’t smoke or shoot up at the table. Admittedly I’ve been known to look askance at those who don’t drink tea (you can’t be a true Brit if you don’t, surely?), but I don’t berate them about it, telling them they’ve “let me down”.
So, for the rest of the month, I’m going to stick to my dry guns. But I might doctor who I hang out with.