Thursday, December 18, 2008

One step forward and four pints back.

Slapped wrists all round. I didn't write anything yesterday and this morning I have a hangover.

That, dear reader, we shall call a bad thing.

However, I don't feel as bad about it now as I did when I came in from the pub last night. There were three definite triggers to this - one was my appointment at the Community Addictions Unit, (which gets a post all of its own) the other was going out for a meal with Mrs Cardiff drunk and the last one was being given an evening off work.

I'd like to say there was no element of physical necessity in it, but I'm not so sure I can. I certainly craved yesterday. Having a drink yesterday means I'm that much more likely to have one today, but I am resolved not to, and, should it come to that I've still got four Diazepam tablets left and can always take my Trazodone early and knock myself into the Land of Nod.

The appointment seems a stupid trigger doesn't it? Going to an appointment about getting over an alcohol problem makes you drink does it? Well, yes, kind of. It's just habit you know. When I was in my eight pints a day cycle I would lie in bed till all hours, but managed to reduce my intake little by staying out of the pub till at least 4.30pm. Counselling appointments meant I got up earlier, which meant I would find myself coming out of quite a stressful experience (and emerging from hangover too) at around 10am and walking past the C - I didn't always go in, but sometimes I did.

The same happened with my first appointment at the Community Addictions Unit.

I'd had a not bad day. A little lazy as ever - not writing this, not writing my article to pitch - but managing to clean the house up and do some washing. Mrs Cardiff Drunk came home and I realised there was bugger all food in the house.

"Can we go out?" She asked, offering to pay and suggesting the local Thai restaurant.

I ummed and aahed a bit and said I was worried about going out because I might be tempted to drink and I didn't really want to, in fact, I didn't think I should.

But, in the end, off we went. We had a very nice meal indeed. I drank water and Mrs Cardiff Drunk drank a small glass of red wine.

And, I just started to twitch and crave terribly. I'm incredibly self-conscious, shy and nervous (one of the reasons I drink is to enable me to deal with other people more easily) so being out and sober is new to me - I've never done it. And, staring at that glass of wine didn't help.

On the way home I just announced, I'm going to go to the pub with my book and have a bit of a read. The idea just lodged itself and (I know this sounds weak and stupid and may be simply incomprehensible to those who haven't been there) was not going to leave.

I got home and managed to get my coat and shoes off and start to do something useful. But, the siren song was there and in the end off I toddled while Mrs Cardiff Drunk had a bath.

I went to The O. I really had just intended to go in, sit quietly and read and have a couple of pints, and stick to the weak bitter I've been on lately.

But the pub was packed-ish. It was music night.

He's a local lad I think, who plays the guitar and sings covers and has a really charming presence - and very good he is too. But, the best thing about him is his evident kindness. He hosts it as a sort of open mic, and was joined by a girl who he is evidently teaching to play the bass. She's in the very early stages of learning by the sound of things but his patience with her - leaning over to tell her the chord while he was playing - was quite something to see.

Once they'd run through their little set, he invited guest singers up and played while a lad I know from the C did a karaoke take on three numbers before he let 'Beatle John' join in and take over the guitar.

The first pint went down slow. But, it didn't taste quite right so I went over to a stronger ale. Bad, bad, bad. Two became three and three became four.

The thing is, I just felt at home there. Everyone was getting nicely wasted, people smiled, people talked.

I think I would have done better if some bloke hadn't sat at my table - making me a little jumpy. But these are excuses.

The reason I don't feel so terrible now is that I haven't slipped straight back into misery. This morning, Mrs Cardiff Drunk brought me a cup of coffee in bed - the old me would have stayed there, self-loathing and brooding and preparing to slip further, hating and wishing I hadn't woken and trying to get back to sleep.

But today was better. I jumped up and out, drank the coffee, drank water, had a shower, made breakfast and put the washing on before getting on here.

I've done better here too. I've stayed away from Comment is Free - that site really is addictive and does me no good at all, I read the news today, oh shite - and got straight on with this after doing a bit of a job search.

So, a slip, but I'm going to HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. And that's what I'm going to try and do - I'll let you know how it goes.


The Cardiff Drunk.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Drunk in Cardiff

"I'm incredibly self-conscious, shy and nervous (one of the reasons I drink is to enable me to deal with other people more easily)"

I completely sympathise but for different reasons. I'm a high IQ, low EQ type and a little bit deaf all of which adds up to not too good interpersonal skills. I have wondered if I am a little bit Aspergers, but probably not.

This wasn't much of a problem in my working class past because nobody deemed to really care, but now it seems I've gone up the social scale a little, it seems that with lower middle class types I am forever treading on egg shells and everyone seems so easily offended over nothing. This makes me tense, so when the occasion arises (such as Christmas do on Friday) I drink more than I should and as a result apparently get in peoples faces a bit which makes them even more wary of me.

They probably think I am a bit of a nutter, but my old working class pals would have just shrugged their shoulders and said "'kin 'ell, you were pissed last night!" and start talking about the football or whatever.

I think its a class thing.

"The thing is, I just felt at home there. Everyone was getting nicely wasted, people smiled, people talked."

Again, I understand what you are saying. You mentioned Dylan Thomas the other day. I used to drink in a pub that had some of his poems on the walls. One of them started "I liked the taste of beer...". Many many years ago, I read Keep The Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell, and I vaguely remember there was a wonderful passage in it about going into a pub and the atmosphere and the sound and the smell and the taste of beer and knocking them back and getting hammered and I thought, George knows what I'm talking about.

Still, you've got to work toward the goal of, you being charge of your problems, and not your problems being in charge of you.

The Drinker said...

Cheers anonymous.

First of all, what's EQ? 'Scuse my ignorance, but I've not come across that before.

I like Orwell, but I've never read KTAF, I should look it out I think - my local library though has NO graham Greene and NO George Orwell in its fiction collection!

To be honest I'm probably pretty middle class - both parents teachers, but grandparents definitely working class - my parents are Kinnockesque first generations of their families to go to university.

I do love pubs and I do love beer. I've spent so long in them they feel like home - this is partly because I had a quite distant relationship with my parents and it became a surrogate home for me.

There's a romaticising I'm doing as well. The pub's I use are real boozers - I'm in a solidly working class area and were a civil servant to walk in and ask if everyone was sticking to their recommended weekly units, they'd be met with blank incomprehension then laughed out the place with a set of intakes that would frighten the life out of them.

The thing is though, I've always said the thing that drives me to the pub is loneliness - but I very rarely speak to anyone beyond asking for my drink and maybe a bit of weather chit chat... I just feel so right sat in there reading my book; it's a friendly and tolerant environment.

Hope you manage not to offend anyone next time you're out - although they sound like they deserve it.

Cheers for commenting,

All the best,

Cardiff Drunk.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Drunk in Cardiff

EQ is:

It might be a load of old tosh.

WRT class, I would never hold anyone's background against them and like to think I am fairly prejudice free in this respect.

In my view, class is mostly a cultural and identity thing rather then an economic thing.

I just thought I'd try and be a bit empathetic and share with you something from my world rather than keep popping up and babbling about meditation or whatever.

You write well and I find it quite fascinating to get into somebody else's world. Particularly as I also like pubs and beer and even I wasn't an alcoholic (is there a standard definition because according to some I was?) I am fairly sure I was on course to become one if I hadn't stumbled on the meditation.

Keep it up.

Its becoming a daily read and keeps me away from all the reactionary angry blogs.

I am sure in time you will become the new you that you want to be.

The Drinker said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the explanation, I follow yer now. And thank you for the kind words re the writing (you should try it, it's very involving).

I hope I'm without prejudice, but, in all sorts of ways I'm sure I'm not - it's an impossible dream I think, but one that's probably worth aiming at.

It's nice to 'speak' to someone this way and your empathy is very much appreciated.

I've got a book out the library on meditation but haven't yet made the important step from reading to doing - maybe tomorrow hey?

I don't know if there's a standard definition of alcholism, but, for me, it means to be physically dependent on the stuff. I have been many times, that is, the effects of not drinking were so physically severe that I felt I had to drink. Alcohol and heroin are (so I'm told) the only drug addictions that require detox treatments.

I'm trying to read at the moment. I used to love it as a child, I always had my head stuck in a book, but I do find it hard to concentrate. I've got 20,000 Streets Under the Sky out at the moment, which I think sounds like it might be up your tree. And, I never miss an opportunity to recommend the Factory Series of crime novels by Derek Raymond - I reckon you'd love them, lot's of excellent pub-world millieus and stunningly compassionate and moving. If you fancy 'em try and start with He Died With His Eyes Open, I think it's on my Amazon linky thing.

Take it easy,

The Cardiff Drunk.