Tell me please, Dry January. Is anyone still even trying? Actually don’t answer that because I hate hearing other people’s success stories. Why I contemplated this in the first place, in this current shambolic climate, is beyond me. While one doesn’t want to descend into full-blown alcoholism, now is not is a period for self-denial, and the subsequent self-flagellation when you fail.
I am the kind of person who lurches from treat to treat. I go to bed longing for the taste of my freshly brewed coffee when I wake up, and my day is then punctuated with the thought of cake for elevenses, (to be fair closer to ‘twelve-ses’ in this house). We’ve taken, over this lockdown, to eating at the table and I like the ceremony of pouring a drink with my dinner, marking the end of the chores and obligations and settling into the evening. Let’s face it, it’s not as though I’ll be rushing to do any of my usual activities. There’s a scarcity of other pleasures and thus my epicurean habits are one of the few things left.
Having said that though, it’s far too easy to knock back a glass of Sauvignon the size of your head at 6pm while you ‘stir the pot’ and then drain the bottle. I have thus arrived at a compromise: to cap myself, I crack open a can of ‘We are the Uncommon’* wine. I spotted these pretty cans of loveliness in M&S, and am considering asking our local framer to do something fancy with my empties. It just seems wrong to be chucking a can boasting a giraffe wearing bow-tie and a bowler hat into the bin. Each can contains about two flutes so it’s enough to give me a bit of lift. (As Gerry Anderson said, one drink only annoys you.)
But January did make me take stock after Christmas, and reconsider my habits. In Lockdown it’s just hard isn’t it, especially when I’m home-schooling and suddenly want to take up smoking so I can flee outside for a fag to stop me blurting out obscenities (again) as the children ferret about under the table for a f**king rubber for the nineteenth time that morning. It’s imperative that I have something to which I can look forward everyday, or I’d become even more barking than I already am.
Have you discovered ‘The Letdown’ on Netflix yet? It is an Aussie show which takes an unflinching look at modern parenthood, and while being highly amusing, it isn’t afraid to tackle some meaty issues. In the penultimate episode of Series 2, one of the characters feels like she’s becoming a bit too reliant on the old ‘Pinot Gri’ as the Aussies like to call it. Enter Scott, a reformed drug addict, who promises her to take her through the steps at record speed. (He’ll even, for a reduced fee, ‘leave out the God stuff.’)
Perhaps you’ve already heard of the concept of a ‘rat park’, but I hadn’t. It’s based on an experiment, involving rats, oddly enough. If, your park, as Scott so succinctly describes it, is ‘shithouse and dull’ you will drink to cope with the monotony. The rats who had a fun-filled cage had no interest in a pick-me-up, while the bored rats just got off their whiskery wee faces on the morphine. So, basically, we have to find our own version of a ‘ratpark.’ Even if you’re not trying to wean yourself off the booze, I just love this concept. I for one, have decided to take back my Saturday nights (for an hour or two anyway). The children have developed fondness for ‘The Masked Singer’ which is several lightyears beyond my level of tolerance. (I know, I’m odd. I can’t be doing with ‘The Voice’ or ‘Love Island’ or ‘I’m a Celebrity’ with all their bluster and the overacting. I HATE all that bollocks, they actually make my teeth hurt.)
Thus while my children munch their dinner in front of the TV, I take myself upstairs and chat to someone over a can of wine. Last week I caught up with my friend in Scotland: we go back 29 years and don’t chat nearly enough. The week before that I was on the phone for almost two hours, in animated discussion with a fabulous local poet with whom I’d only had the briefest of interchanges before. Over Facebook we realised we had more than a few things in common, one of which was our dislike of shows like ‘The Masked Singer.’ ‘Seven shades of shite’ was how she described it.
I’m rabbiting on. Anyway. Ratparks- totally essential. Find your own version, be it chatting or dancing or reading or stretching. And check out The Letdown.’ I loved it, and as you’ll gather from this, I’m hard to please.
*I feel I have to add here that I am not being paid to promote these guys. (I wish I was, obviously as their wine is LUSH.) But it’s such a great wine and adds a frisson of fun in these dull times.