Everyone loves drinking. I know I do. Ever since I was 13 years old and I blithely helped myself to can after can of continental lager at my Aunty Von’s New Year’s Eve party then vommed off the side of my bed onto the bedroom floor, showering the cat with sick. I remember it vividly because my dad came up to check on me after being informed of harrowing heaving noises floating across the landing, quietly crept into the bedroom to see how I was then slipped over in it. Such was the state of his own inebriation he simply lay immobile on the floor in a pile of sick asking if I was okay with me groaning at him that the cat looked funny. I don’t recall but I’d like to think he lay there all night. It’s stuff like that that really bonds a father and son.
When I worked for the Inland Revenue a few years after leaving school, I discovered that working for the Inland Revenue was the sole reason that loads of work colleagues had serious drinking problems. One fellow I worked with used to wear slippers for work and surreptitiously guzzle from open cans of cider in his desk drawer. He did this every day for ages until one day he got overly giddy and answered the phone with the handset the wrong way up and began shouting that he couldn’t hear the person on the other end. He was dismissed not long after that and was replaced by a robot. That’s a true story. Apart from the robot bit.
Anyway, apparently I look under 25. I have this regularly brought home to me by bored checkout operators in large supermarkets because of that stupid Challenge 25 rule thing. Rarely do I find myself attempting to purchase alcohol in supermarkets without being asked for identification from a perplexed looking cashier as I pat up and down my body pretending to look for the ID I clearly don’t have. I never get asked my age in bars or off-licences mainly because I clearly don’t look 17 despite not being able to grow a beard. I can usually tell when a cashier is unsure about my age as they eyeball me so fiercely as they’re swiping through all the toilet roll and crisps that it makes the top of my backside sweat. By the time they get to swiping through the Buckfast I can already feel the impending doom. For some reason I get really uncomfortable when I get asked for ID. Probably because of my fear of being publicly outed as someone with a drinking problem and I really don’t have a problem. I just hide my drinking from my family and friends and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The last time I was asked for ID was when I was buying a couple of miniatures of Jack Daniels to help with nerves prior to my first driving lesson, and the inevitable ‘how old are you?’ question was asked by a jovial 103 year old at the till:
CONFUSED CHECK OUT LADY: ‘Hmmm, I can’t tell if you’re over 25. How old are you?‘
ME: ‘Yes, I’m over 25. I’m actually 35.’
APOPLECTIC CHECK OUT LADY: ‘You’re 35? Really? 35?!’
ME: ‘Yeah, I get asked for ID all the time in here because I’m so fresh-faced.’
COMPLIMENTARY CHECK OUT LADY: ‘Ha! You don’t look 35 at all. How do you keep yourself looking so young!?’
ME: ‘Loads of cocaine.’
At which point the bonhomie ended and she looked at me blankly before glancing over at her supervisor who fixed me with a glare and suggested he was slowly reaching under the counter for a club to smite me with like in those old Western movies when a dirty cowboy shows up and the barman reaches under the bar for a club to smite him with. I smiled but got nothing back in return.
The above scenario happens all too often which is why – for one month only – I’ve decided to completely forego alcohol altogether by taking part in the Go Sober For October challenge in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support. When I mentioned this to friends and family and on social media I got nothing but abuse and ridicule so I feel compelled to complete it in spite of my mind and body crying out that this is the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. Mind, it wasn’t even my idea. I was gently cajoled into doing it by my wonderful better half, Laura, who herself is also attempting to sober up for 31 days. Thirty one days. A month without a drink. Jesus.
But it’s all for a good cause so if you fancy donating something to MacMillan Cancer Support on behalf of our struggle then by all means do. It’ll mean so much to a lot of people, and most importantly, the more donations we get, the less likely I’ll turn to Class A narcotics in order to ease the pain. My dealer is just a text message away so please, donate what you can and save me from ending up on Jeremy Kyle with a tattoo on my face and a string vest on.
I love you too.