Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 1 October 2014

It’s like the New Year all over again

Every year seems to get shorter.

It’s because I’m getting older. Every year represents a smaller and smaller percentage of my lifespan. I’m down to 2%. It isn’t much is it? Of course 2014 seems to have passed in a flash... It just got shorter by three months.

I’ve written about New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all fallen into that trap, and I don’t plan to do it too often. If I have the intention to change my life and the impetus to implement the intention, the when shouldn’t matter very much. I suppose the New Year is as good a time as any to make changes, and lots of people use it as a catalyst for that. In recent years January seems to have become a month of abstinence. Lots of people I know stop drinking in January. Well, OK then. If you like.

But this is October. I count three months until January 1st, and yet there are rumblings. I’m hearing ‘Sober October’ and I’m seeing posters for ‘Stoptober’ all over the place, encouraging smokers to quit the habit.

We are being urged to abstain. Of course we shouldn’t smoke and of course we shouldn’t drink to excess. I imagine that if tobacco and alcohol were newly discovered, right now, they would both go straight on the illegal substances list.

I’m a control freak, a person of moderation, and I tend to the extremes and easily become addicted to things. I’m also a mass of contradictions.

I’m a great believer in helping those that need, want and seek help for their excesses and their addictions. Addiction is destructive and causes untold hurt for the addicted and those they love.

General abstinence for the general population seems to me to be a bit of a scourge, though. We’re all becoming such bores about it. We’re in danger of turning ourselves and each other into unnecessarily prim, judgemental prigs. If that wasn’t bad enough, we’re in danger of pushing normal habits of celebration and indulgence into hiding, of subverting our occasional excesses and driving our revelry underground. So, I have one too many drinks once in a blue moon, by which I mean two or three times a year. I do it with good cheer in good company to general merriment. I don’t operate heavy machinery, mess with productivity because of hangovers, or spend public money by requiring any emergency services. 

Sober October or Abstinent January might actually make someone as normal as me think more about alcohol rather than less. Deprivation does weird things to the brain. Think of it this way: You can walk in a straight line, right? Of course you can. Now imagine trying to walk in a straight line on a six inch ledge with a three hundred foot precipice on either side. I can walk in a straight line, but nothing would induce me to do that. The ledge could be six feet wide and I still wouldn’t do it.

I have one too many drinks two or three times a year. I might go a week without having so much as a glass of wine. I might not have a drink for a month, but tell me I can’t have a drink for a month and suddenly that glass of wine will be on my mind every hour of every day. The same would probably be true if you denied me a chocolate biscuit, and I don’t even like chocolate biscuits.

Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I’m just contrary. I won’t be taking up the Sober October challenge and I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions. I won’t be giving up anything for Lent, either. I won’t be writing a novel in November, or growing a moustache... Gosh! There are a lot of things I won’t be doing.

That’s a good thing, though, because it frees me up to do all the things I want to do, and all the things I need to do, and some of the time I’ll be doing those things with a glass of wine in my hand, and, who knows, I might even cause a little merriment by having that one glass too many. 
Join Stoptober

For those of you who do choose to do some of the things on the list I’ve just trashed, I wish you love and luck and strength and perseverance, and I’ll be thinking of you. Just because abstinence might not be my life choice doesn't mean it's a bad thing, and doesn't mean it isn't a good choice for you. October seems like as good a month as any to clean up your act. Go you!


I have since learned that some people are embarking on Sober October as a way of earning cash for charities. How bloody marvellous is that? Someone hit me up for a donation. I believe I'm looking at you Sarah Pinborough - Smiles. Good luck and happy collecting to all of you.

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