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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

Monday 10th August: BENDER

Picture it – the crime scene. A sticky, bread crumbed kitchen counter, an empty beroca tube next to a dripping tap both arrogant and shy in its obstinence and uncertainty, a pair of underwear loiters on the floor next to the bath. Duvet? Coverless, of course – this is a textbook case afterall. Receipts everwhere, last night’s pizza in the oven. 9pm curfew.

Ah yes, the four-day-accidental bender. Not our first time at this rodeo is it? In fact I could probably point to remnants of the one before last.

How does an accidental 4 day bender happen? You may indeed ask this – its all very straightforward, and yet so complicated. Mine began with a Thursday night.

Thursday’s are the new fridays – everyone knows this, it has been the case for years. Well, it has been the case for me for years. Thursdays have happy hours that didn’t take place on Fridays and Saturdays when I would have been working, starting your weekend on a Thursday meant a longer weekend – you had a key to participate.

And so, this time 4 nights ago I was at the pub with a handful of colleagues. Its now 8.30pm so lets say that I would have probably been on cider number…. 6, but it may have been 8. By 10.30pm I had text myself, as I do sometimes when I want to remember something, particularly if it is bloggable (I like to think i treat you all to some non-crap from time to time) with the words ‘remember that feeling’ (a moment of concise self-reflection and clarity if ever there was one – shame I don’t remember it, or why I wrote those words to myself).

By 12.30am I was on a bus home. Ciders drunk? Mmm, lets take an approximate stab at 12. That’s an informed stab. Sometimes I don’t even get that. My bus home takes an hour, on a good run, and there I was sat next to Dee – approximate age 50, destination Camberwell, with two crutches as she had a problem with her legs. I’m sure she mentioned what the issue was, or at least alluded to it, but I can’t remember. What can I say? I was pissed.

When Dee got off at Camberwell along with my mobile phone number, having promised to text me when she got home safe, I decided that I needed a new friend. I was in the mood to be loved. Not in the sexual sense (how refreshing, that happens all-to-often after drinks), but in the ‘you are valid and funny and interesting sense’ and so I sat next to someone else. “Hello” I chimed cheerily (slurred) to the smartly dressed lady in her mid-late twenties with head phones in. Half a minute passes. “Where are you going? Forest Hill? Me too!…… You don;t really want to talk do you? Oh I’m sorry, I’m embarassing myself – I’m going to go and sit upstairs.”

Home @ 1.30am. Wake up 6.15am. Work 7.30am. Sober up 11am. Really sober up 1pm. Finish work 6pm. Pub 7pm, pub 8pm, 9pm, 10pm.

By 11pm I was back in my neck of London, and determined to have a nice evening’s catch up with a good friend, who I haven’t seen 1-on-1 for a while. He was pretty legless by 12.30pm, so went home. But I wasn’t ready to. I wanted to sit at a bar, and corner a bar tender, and for them to be my friend. So I brought them drinks, and maybe a shot. Or 3.

Home…. don’t know what time. I would guess at 1.30am again, as the pub across the road where I remember ‘making friends’ with the landlord, and with Nikki behind the bar, closed at 1.

Wake up….. 11am. Get up midday. Gym 2pm. Get ready for date at 4pm, leave house at 5.15 in time for date in Soho at 6.15… Date starts – “I’ll get the first one, what are you having?…. I’m going to have a pint of water as well please, with the cider… Yeah i’m a bit hungover….”

Date ends at 9pm (not in a bad way, we are going out again) and I decide that not having any battery on my phone will not get in my way of meeting up with friends and having a good time. I find a group of friends in a usual hangout spot of what now feels like a life gone past – i borrow a phone, I call my friend from Friday night – “come to Clapham.”

10pm, Clapham Common – pub, work colleagues, I’ve had four pints and a shot of jager in four hours. I still class myself as sober even if a judge would tell me otherwise.

12am. Last men and women standing. 12.30am Club. Music. Shirt being unbuttoned – by me? By someone else? No, someone else was doing it, but I was quite happy to let them.

Here the time line loses time. It doesn’t lose me, as I can tell you (generally) what I did, and where in the time line, but just not the time. It was essentially timeless.

Timeless moments involved me eating someone’s face on a dancefloor. It is approximately 2.30am. I then left the club with that person to go back to theirs. 3am? Five minutes walk down the road ran into someone who was *****paralytic***** dunk – the kind of drunk I had been 2 minutes before having an ambulance called for me in the past, and being teased by his friends who were trying to take pics of him as he stumbled. He stumbled hard, and fell. His friends laughed. I stopped, along with my newfound friend, to help.

10 minutes later paramedics are there. I want to stay. “Why?” asked my new found friend. “Because I have been that person” I said.

Go back to my new friend’s place – 4.30am? I’m not going to go into details with the next bit – you can use your imagination or at the very least your Google search bar to fill that in – but I was home at approx 11am the next morning – 2 hours sleep and a nice ride in an Audi later.

3pm, I’m back in Soho, drinks with a friend. One pint. Two Pints. Three? I feel fine – but I have walked this tightrope before between ‘fine’ and ‘not’ and I know that drinking more will lengthen the punishment. At best, I stop now, I go home, have a bath, some food (so far all weekend I have eaten 2 eggs, some halloumi and toast. Oh, and someone’s face 😉 ) do my laundry, change my bed sheets, get to bed, and deal with a hangover tomorrow. At worst, I drink more, and I don’t go to work the next day, and deal with the hangover and both my inner ‘mental’ fallout, and the fallout from my job, on Tuesday….

So I stopped. Home at 5.30. Unable to focus from 5.31pm. Checking my phone – had my date text me? Had my new friend? Did I even care because I liked them, or did i just want someone to make me feel valid, and wrap me in warm fuzz in some kind of giant spoon, as a pint or 5 of cider would do?

Today I’ve felt like crap. Unmotivated. Apathetic. Physically drained. “Knackered!?” my manager exclaimed when she looked at me. “Do one” I said back without saying it.

Two weeks ago, I ran my first half marathon. In spite of it being the longest distance I have run competitively, including when I was younger and much much fitter and covered 9 miles across the Malvern hills, and in a great 2-fingers up to the torrential rain, I finished. For the first time in a good number of years, I felt like I had achieved something for me and me alone, i had complete ownership of it, but I also knew I could do better.

So I’m now not drinking again for 3 weeks, or until Bank Holiday weekend anyway. I felt good in July, and I spend less money, I was more focused but as my last blog post showed here I did not find it without its difficulties. Think of it like a diet plan – 20 days off, 10 days on – think of it like ‘Hovis: Best of Both’ – here is your cake – have it, and eat it too.

This four day bender was really at best a 3.5 day bender. And it used to be a 5.5 day on. The number is coming down, but is the denial simply going up? Can moderation really be a ‘thing?’ or is abstinence simply the only way forward.

At the same time, do I need to look more at why I drink how I drink? If I take away the alcohol, how will I find that self-assurance, the ‘spooning’ element? Sex? Exercise? Food?

I guess what it comes down to is knowing how to be happy, so I’m going to try and work out how I can keep myself happy and healthy at the same time – match progress with progress. A bender is all very well, unless it changes your direction to head backwards.