I’m spending two days a week hungover and for those who spend more days than that waking up not feeling your best after a few too many, there’s no judgement here. I just think the time has come where I ask myself do I really have control of my drinking once I start and is now the time to do something about it?
I’m 39 and have worked in the pub industry for 15 years now and really feel like this is a place I belong. I love pubs, always have. I remember the thrill of being served in them before I was 18 (breaking the law, I know) and I still love going into them now.
I love the fact they bring people together. You can go there to meet friends or family and end up meeting more friends along the way. A wise landlord once said to me the pub is a good leveller of society, people from all walks of life can spark up a conversation and be content to chat to each other.
I’ve always been aware I liked a good drink and for my size and height, considered myself punching well above my weight. As I’ve got older I’ve had the dawning realisation that I’m not very good at moderating.
There are times when I just have one or two, but on a regular basis I’m having far too much. Not always in the pub – in fact more often than not, at home or at a friend’s – and it’s really wine that’s my poison, in more ways than one.
Don’t pigeonhole me though, I love beer; lager and ales, the occasional cider, G&Ts, cocktails. I’m what the industry would label as your classic chameleon drinker. A thirst-quenching pint of cold lager on a sunny day in a beer garden, a Friday night margarita, whatever the occasion or day, there’s always the perfect drink, right?
It’s the wine that really does me in though. I try to give myself rules; only drink it when there’s food in front of me – though I often forget and carry on after I’ve finished thinking it’s better not to mix my drinks – never drink it on an empty stomach and always try to have a glass or two of water, I can usually remember to have one at best.
I’m an all or nothing type of person so I’ve decided a bit of time living a sober life (as in alcohol-free not subdued, I hope) is just the tonic I need.
I’m making two promises to you: one, I won’t go all preachy and talk about how amazing I feel. I’m only on day seven so I don’t feel like I could train for a marathon or even touch my toes for that matter and two – I’ll still go to the pub. I just can’t imagine a life without pubs in it, even more so than not drinking.
‘Fully on the wagon’
A few thoughts early on; are pubs a place for those not drinking? Does it matter than I’ll be drinking alcohol-free beer or Seedlip as opposed to the hard stuff? I’m convinced pubs are about more than boozing, and even more sure of this post pandemic. They’re a place for folk to meet, to socialise, to dine.
What will it mean for pubs if more people choose to go to the pub and not drink? In some ways it’ll make life easier surely, dealing with sober customers but will it affect beer quality if not enough is being consumed.
Is supping a pint at the bar the same if there’s no alcohol in it? Does beer fundamentally need alcohol or are we more appreciative now as a society about the skills that go into brewing, carefully balancing hops and malt to give the flavour?
I hope you’ll check in as I navigate my way through pub life fully on the wagon and welcome any advice you have.