Today is the fourth day of my week-long alcohol-free stint, and I feel… kinda crap! My New Years resolution was to have two alcohol-free nights per week, which is the general go-to figure for the health authorities and good-intentioners. My mission sounds insane to most of my British friends, who find it weird that I drink every night. I don’t mean drinking myself into oblivion, or even feeling drunk…but I do have a glass of wine or a beer after work which sometimes turns into two… if I’m at home… on my own. The number creeps up to three, four or more if friends have invited me out. I don’t wake up in Zone 9 covered in spew with my stilettos in my handbag, so I never thought it was an issue! However, my Doctor recently probed me uncomfortably (not in that way), about my intake. He was relentless, countering my vague, dismissive responses with questions like ‘how many nights exactly?’…’but what kind of beer… a half pint or a pint?’, and eventually whipping up a calculation that I feared wouldn’t be pretty. He leant back in his chair, stared at me with a face uncannily similar to Thom Yorke’s, and declared ‘You drink three times the amount that a woman your age should’. Damn. Despite my usual resistance against any type of authority figure telling me what to do, I listened to him partly because he followed this announcement that he understood I was probably self-medicating my pain.
Anyway you look at it, I’ve done a pretty rubbish (such an English term) job at sticking to my New Years resolution, which at the time of its creation seemed perfectly feasible. I’ve decided to buy some more ‘yummy drinks’ as I realised that the only options available to me were always tap water or some sort of booze. I don’t tend to buy juice, cordial or fizzy drinks as I have an illogical fear of sugar (illogical given the massive sugar content of most alcoholic drinks). On Monday I went out and bought some ginger beer (with no added sugar!), and have been drinking that instead. It’s great! Tasty, gingery and it even has ‘beer’ in its name. I’ve also decided not to drink when I’m by myself, because it seems sad and a bit pointless. Having a beer or glass of wine has become firmly associated with unwinding after work, and I’ve had to make a conscious effort to partake in other stress-reducing activities instead of cracking open a bottle. Oh the joys of borderline alcoholism! The longest I’ve gone without drinking since I moved out of home at 20 is two days. TWO DAYS. Until now.
Besides the first two days when I really craved a beer and could only banish my yearnings through neurotically googling liver disease, it has been slightly easier than I anticipated. Last night I was weirdly hyperactive at 8pm, and my nerve pain was hitting about an 8 out of 10 on the ouch-o-meter. By 8.30pm I was fast asleep on the couch, snoring away as Jim and his bemused housemates lived their lives around me. Besides waking up briefly while Jim guided me to bed, I slept for a full 12 hours and felt like I had been hit by a truck this morning. I’m not sure if that was the result of some kind of alcohol withdrawl, but if sobriety can have that much of an affect on my body I’m tempted to stretch my booze free jaunt to two or even three weeks to make sure my poor abused liver has some hope in hell of recovery. Plus, who could argue with Thom Yorke?!
Anyways, here is my playlist for Jim, continued:
10. Belle & Sebastian: Piazza New York Catcher
‘Elope with me Miss Private and we’ll sail around the world. I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl’. I’ve previously mentioned that my time in Doncaster was a mixed bag. On one hand I finally had time to myself after sleeping in shared dorms for around 3 and a half months. I could sit in peace and quiet at my B&B without anyone bothering me, pondering my life in Perth and all I had learnt. On the other hand, Doncaster’s depressing high street smelt faintly of sewerage and the junkies were scary. As well as dissecting the past, I looked to the future; as the bus to work wound its way through light industrial estates and small villages with boarded up pubs, I listened to this song and imagined more whimsical times. I started to think again about becoming someone’s wayward girl. How many nights of talking in hotel rooms can I take? As many as you got.
11. Killa Queenz: Sweaty Wet
The Killa Queenz are a female hip hop act from Australia whose live shows are usually amazeballs judging by the various YouTube clips I’ve seen. Unfortunately when they came to Perth they tried to fill something like 3 gigs in a few days, and on the night I saw them there was some major international hip hop guy playing elsewhere in town. It wasn’t quite the dance hall frenzy I imagined, but I still think they’re awesome. After being single and honestly disinterested in guys for so many months, at the Edinburgh Festival I suddenly turned and decided it was time to be in the Game again, to the amusement and finally the exasperation of my friends (both new and old). This song kind of reminds me of that time, feeling so cocky… yet at the same time really, crushingly insecure and unsure of myself. I also played it during the Camino to give me an extra burst of energy when I needed it… it’s so much easier to bust a move when you have some fiery Ugandan/Belizean Australians sassing in your ear. It conveniently annoyed the hell out of El when I sang it out loud… she has since labelled it ‘the worst song in the world’. Decide for yourself!
12. The Shins: Young Pilgrims
This has been one of my favourite songs for years, I love most of the lyrics written by these guys. How could I pass up such a literal title when choosing a song to depict the Camino pilgrimage of last September? It’s quite an inspiring tune – ‘But I learnt fast how to keep my head up ’cause I know there is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just fly the whole mess into the sea’. In my view, undertaking a Camino is an active choice that people make to search for something within themselves and to get that tiny bit closer to their concept of God/enlightenment/being a happy person. Which I think is totally cool. It’s of utmost importance that you learn to keep your head up, particularly if you’re prone to having it fall through the floor.
13. The Magnetic Fields: All My Little Words
When you hear the opening lyrics of this song you think ‘Oh my god how cheesey’. You are a splendid butterfly? Gimme a fucking break. But then you totally get drawn in to this gorgeous song about a fleeting, confusing, hopeless romantic encounter. Which I was sort of trying to work out and come to terms with on the hike, amongst so many other things. I love how the Magnetic Fields tap into delicious, at times tongue-in-cheek misery, then tickle you with word-play that Stephen Fry would love for the sheer sound sex of it. Again, I think if El hears me warble suddenly about a certain winged insect ever again, she’ll punch me.
14. Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street
Enter Jim! We met outside Baker Street station. Jim was reading a paper, leaning against the rails and waiting for me to arrive. He looked up from his paper and we locked eyes for the first time… later that week, I told him he had spectacular eyeballs… awwww. So of course, Baker Street is now sort of one of our songs. Despite its uplifting wind instruments, Baker Street is actually quite a depressing song if you listen to the lyrics. ‘Just one more year and then you’ll be happy… but you’re crying, you’re crying now’. Jesus. London is a city that sometimes chews you up and spits you out. Stating the obvious there. I’ve seen people along the way that for whatever reason just didn’t have the timing or the financial/emotional resources to run at it and make it their bitch, which you have to do if you’re going to live here. At least they could go back to wherever their homes were… some people don’t have it so easy.
More next time!