Dry January. Many do it every year but for me, this was a first. Here’s my diary of just how it went...
2nd JanuaryWe go out for brunch. I ask for the non alcoholic drinks menu. Apparently they don’t have one - it’s brunch?! The waitress looks at me as if I’m asking a bakers if they sell newspapers. We compromise on a mocktail which is nearly the same price as an alcoholic beverage. Why world, why?
3rd JanuaryFriend tries to get me to crack. Puts having ‘a few days off’ on the table or at least drinking at the wedding this month. When I say no, I’m doing it full throttle - she tempts me with a drink there and then. I resist. Can’t fall at the first hurdle.
5th JanuaryA close colleague’s leaving do. Normally I’d be sipping champagne whilst waving her off but tonight it’s simply coke. I’m with three others on Dry Jan so we refrain together. A squad that abstains together, stays together right?
6th JanuaryWe head to Spinningfields for an early dinner and drinks. I tempt myself by smelling the alcohol. I don’t crack, but when we head to the newly refurbed Refuge in town and see prosecco’s on the menu for £4, it makes my heart hurt a little.
7th JanuaryA week in. So far I see no benefits, but it’s early days.
8th JanuaryAnother outing. I order a mocktail and yet again it’s inches off the price off a cocktail. Baffled.
13th JanuaryFriday. A day I’d almost always be out. Rather than tempt fate, we stay in. I swap a great wine for cooking a stellar Stilton sauce. We fall asleep pre midnight. This is not like us.
14th JanuaryI wake up more tired than I ever did post-going out and drinking. So far, so not good. Tonight is my friend’s birthday - my first ‘out out’ test sober. I regularly preach that I don’t need alcohol to have fun, and it’s true. But I’m yawning at 11pm and struggle to loosen up on the dance floor so dad dancing happens. We end the night as we do most alcohol-fuellled nights - in a takeaway pre-Uber. Surrounded by drunk people I’m aware of absolutely everything, especially just how cold my £3 burger is. Yum.
15th JanuaryWeekend brunch - one of my favourite times of the week. Normally I’d make a beeline for a mimosa but not today. I order a Garden Fizz mocktail which thankfully is a great substitute.
16th JanuaryTonight we’re making mocktails at Thaikhun in town - perfect. And we have a bloody good time doing it. I do walk away with a sugar rush headache - here’s hoping you don’t get hangovers from those?
17th JanuaryOne of those rare things called a night in? I swap happy hour for a bath and some light reading. A friend invites me out and asks if I’m still on ‘Dry Jan.’ She remarks how proud she is when I answer yes. Score.
18th JanuaryMy friend’s birthday meal. Normally I’d be the first to suggest splitting a bottle of red or white but I look on lovingly whilst I sip on a soft drink. My heart breaks slightly at the complimentary champagne being passed around. I question everything.
20th JanuaryA spontaneous night out. I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s my last Friday dry that temptation is everywhere. So we pick distractions - first up - ping pong which is obviously more successful sans alcohol. We tell the bartender of our woes and she whips up two delicious mocktails for a reasonable price for once. One drunk guy takes so much of an interest he tries to steal my shoes. Not tonight drunk Dave.
21st JanuaryMy first wedding of 2017. I’d vowed to stay dry for it, but sadly I crack and hit the champers before we’ve even set off. I actually feel nervous taking my first sip and I get drunk waaaaaay quicker than I normally would. But that could also be down to the fact I’ve run a 10K earlier and only had a slice of pate on toast.
21st January (a bit later)A bottle of champagne, vodkas, jager and Disaronno later, it’s 2am and we’re in a takeaway. Nothing like a bit of mixing right…
22nd JanuaryThe morning after. The bit I’ve been dreading. I’ve successfully swerved approximately 300 hangovers in the past couple of years. I’ve run 10Ks on four hours sleep and 12 drinks. I’ve ridden front row on Oblivion after a (and I’ll stress not my words) ‘heavy sesh.’ And I’ve laughed in the face of everyone I know come the AM when I’ve got a spring in my step and they’re slowly dying. Would my luck be over? Have I ruined my own jammy get out of jail free card?
Luckily, I wake feeling like I usually do after drinking - way better than I deserve. I’m tired but that’s down to the 4am bedtime. Do I feel 100%? No. Do I feel hungover? No. And the good part is, when I’m ‘hungover’, I wake lovely and early and in time to finish this article.
So what I’ve learnt? To sum it up - I can do it. Whilst I didn't really save much money and turning down free drinks was tough - I can quite happily live sans alcohol. We did have a few shocked stares from bartenders when ordering soft drinks so I've been pulling out the 'Sorry, I'm driving' card every night in January. One of these days, someone will actually ask me for a lift and then my cover will be blown.
I’ve not drunk texted any exes or got any embarrassing photos to untag from Facebook so that’s always a win but maybe instead of giving it up completely, I try a new kind of balance. I drink because I enjoy it, not to binge or not because I’m peer pressured or need it. My head's felt clearer and I probably should have made it 'til the end of the month. But if you can't break the rules for a wedding, when can you?
Obviously it goes without saying, I'm not encouraging heavy drinking so always, always, remember to drink responsibly!