At this time of year there are many people unable to enter into what others consider the spirit of the occasion. Alex is one of them.
Spare a thought for the recovering alcoholics amongst us who have to drag themselves along to these bashes and watch as folk get slowly battered. Ours is at a restaurant Somewhere In Birmingham on Friday and will go as follows. I guarantee it –
11am – Monthly sales meeting to last one hour, tops. 12 participants, all in their going out gear, joshing and japing as they prepare for an afternoon’s quaffing. Idle talk about plans to photocopy their posteriors and tell the boss he’s a tosser.
12 noon – Freezing cold walk from Colmore Row to the Mailbox with inevitable Old Joint Stock loosener(s) along the way.
12.45pm – They’re merry now and the guard is coming down.
1pm – Sit down to lunch, pull crackers. Sally already flirting with Graham after a full year of office footsie. They’ve both earmarked today as the opportunity to cement their shared affection and are wasting no time in moving matters forward.
1.30pm – Lunch is served. Not before time, as they need something to soak up the ale/alcopops (is it still called alcopop? It’s been a long time). The back stabbing is in full swing, colleagues you hold in high regard are trashed by a dinner table of people you hold in low regard. A blueprint for the running of the company is laid out by data input clerk Martin as he orders his fourth Stella.
2pm – Taxi for Hemmings! He doesn’t drink much and he’s been trying to keep up with Lee who does. Hemmings now behaving like a dying fly, one last flurry before lights out. Lee looks fine, this session is standard fare for him and he appears a little bewildered that folk are falling apart while he’s merely loosening up.
3pm – Isobel’s on her mobile by the bar. Her boyfriend’s the suspicious type and keeps calling her to see “she’s alright.” Lee looks forward to her return; he reckons he’s on a promise. It’s all sorted – most are staying over in a local hotel.
4pm – By now it’s carnage and I’m heading home. Those who regularly drink are drunk, those who don’t are wasted. The last hour has seen me largely shunned because I’m not partaking. The party is split into groups of twos and threes while I sit nursing my coffee. There were snatched conversations earlier from those who tell me “Just have a couple this once, it won’t hurt” others who say “I admire you for not drinking, I sometimes wonder if I have a problem” and the odd tragic tale of a family member/friend who lost everything through drink. I offer to drive Mark home if he promises not to throw up in my motor but he says he wants to stay on for a bit. I’ll learn on Monday that he wound up comatose in All Bar One.
5pm – I’m home, in the bosom of my family and safe again. It’s been exhausting and difficult. Eight years + since the last drink but Christmas is the hardest time. So much drink is consumed over so many days and I’m always just an arm’s length away from ruining it all. It really would only take a second. In the early years I simply wouldn’t attend these events knowing that temptation would get the better of me. Now I go but with trepidation and wouldn’t think twice about walking out if it came to it.
Good luck to any of you who are going through a difficult time regards alcohol. This is a difficult period but you’ll get through it if you value your sobriety highly enough. I’ll perhaps write a match report to let you know if Isobel did indeed betray her intended. It’s odds on that she will.