When I Tell People That I Don’t Drink…
…the first thing they ask is “Why not?”
Well, I find that a strange question. I mean, why would I? I’m an alcohol consultant so I think about, talk about, write about alcohol every day. It’s my work, and whilst I used to joke that drinking was just ‘field research’, actually, it’s just not that interesting to me anymore. I have a friend who works at Cadbury’s and he says the same thing about chocolate. Now thatis something that I’m sure I could never get tired of.
So, there I am, at a party or something, trying to explain why I don’t drink. Somehow, “I just don’t” isn’t an acceptable answer, so I’ve honed my response over the years, and I find it’s best to just list the benefits, as I see them, of being dry. So, in case we ever meet, here’s why I don’t drink.
1. I’m a morning person
Yep. Whilst everyone else is still snuggling down in the duvet and the birds have barely started chirruping, I’m up and raring to go. I do my best work before noon, I like to chill a bit in the afternoons, early dinner and be in bed by 10.30 during the week, ready for a cardio session at the gym first thing. Anything that gets in the way, like a foggy head from the night before, leaves me feeling demotivated and a bit flat, even without the hangover. Talking of which:
2. The hangovers get worse as you get older
I just can’t drink like I used to. I remember the days (the eighties) when I could party hard ‘til the early hours, get two hours sleep, head off to town for a spot of brunch and a trip to Top Shop, over to a mate’s to get ready and then out again for a night of dodgy overpriced cocktails and a dance round the handbags to the latest Human League hit. Those days are long gone. I don’t miss them. Fun at the time but my weekends are too precious to be spent half asleep with a pounding head and a vague feeling of having forgotten something, or everything.
3. I like to be in control
Or at least I like to know how I’m going to get home, where my wallet is and that I won’t have anything to apologise for the next day. I also like to remember the conversations that I have and the people I have them with. “Why not just have one or two drinks?” I hear you cry. Well, I can do that. I don’t have a problem with moderation, but actually, I don’t enjoy drinking any more so why have a couple of drinks when I can just sip slimline tonic with a slice and know I’m OK to drive later?
4. I enjoy more pounds (£s) and fewer pounds (lbs)
When I used to drink, I used to eat, too. It was the late-night kebab after a bit of a sesh and then the full English the next day. Doable on a regular basis when you’re twenty but by forty-five, I could no longer spare the calories. Financially too, the switch from the youthful cheap plonk to ‘decent’ wines and sophisticated cocktails meant splashing out more and more on what, often enough, wasn’t even something that I enjoyed. Not to mention the price of a taxi at the end of the night. These days I’m all about the spa weekend, not the ‘blow a hundred and fifty quid on a night out with nothing to show for it but a few unexplained bruises and some blurry photos of dark rooms and people’s ankles’ weekend.
5. Never say never
I haven’t really given up drinking, I just don’t drink. I haven’t made a vow or anything, I’m free to change my mind if I choose, so it’s no big deal. It’s just that “No, thanks, I don’t drink” is my default position in the same way that “Margarita, please!” used to be my standard answer twenty years ago.
People seem to be surprised by these answers. There’s no big reveal – I don’t look fifteen years younger, I haven’t run a marathon, I’m not ‘svelte’ and I don’t have boundless energy so all the lovely benefits that many people go dry for in the early days no longer apply to me. But I am much happier not drinking. I’ve never felt that I was missing out, and I squeeze every last second of enjoyment out of parties and I’m as merry as those around me if I’m in good company.
So, there you have it. I don’t drink because I don’t drink. Still, it’s worth inviting me to parties because I’m interested in other guests, I don’t overstay my welcome and if anyone needs a lift home – I’m safe to drive!