Tag Archives: work

Strangers on a train

This morning I was on a packed train to work when a very large man squeezed into the seat next to me. Straight away I could smell it: the booze on his breath. It was horrible. It was worse when he looked or breathed in my direction, but I could actually smell it whichever way he faced. I think it was coming out of his pores.

Things got considerably worse when he opened his bag and pulled out a hot McDonald’s breakfast. I don’t want to sound like a food snob here, but there’s something about the smell of McDonald’s food that really turns my stomach, especially at 8.30am. The seats on the tram were so small he was practically eating the food in my lap.

I spent most of the journey staring furiously out the window, before remembering that less than a year ago this could have been me (albeit without the Maccy D’s). I thought back on all those times that I’d finished work late, maybe not getting home until 10.30pm. Despite knowing that I had to be up early in the morning I would stop by the off licence for beer and a bottle of wine, planning just to have a few glasses. Just enough to relax. That was always the plan. But hey presto, all of a sudden it’d be 3am and I’d wake up and realise that a) the bottle was empty and b) I’d been sleeping on the sofa again.

The man on the train looked so tired. I remember feeling like that, like I could sleep for a week. Going to work with a secret hangover is tough. At best you are a 50% version of yourself. And you can’t tell anyone about your hangover because that would be weird, right? So it becomes this silent thing that you have to just get through, whilst appearing to be fine. It’s hard work. It amazes me how often drinkers are painted as weak-willed, because actually you have to be quite a strong person to cope with the hangovers, turn up to work on time and then repeat the process.

When you stop drinking you notice so many benefits. For starters you sleep better. You also look better, feel better and you save money. But above all, sobriety makes life so much easier. It really does. It brings an end to the lies you tell yourself and others. You stop having to keep so many secrets. You stop feeling guilty about failing to stop. This morning, I looked at this man on the train and thought: yes, life is so much simpler now. 

A simpler life doesn’t have to be a boring one either. On a slightly different note, I wanted to share this article about Davina McCall. I’ve always been a fan of hers but I became an even bigger one during her recent Sport Relief Challenge (running, cycling and swimming from Edinburgh to London). Talk about determination! She has been very open about her drink/drug problems in the past and I particularly like what she says in the interview about being “hedonistic whilst completely sober”. I like the sound of her parties…

A big fat slap in the face

I guess I had it coming. My first three days sober were so easy. Suspiciously so. But these last two days? So tough. 

It’s not surprising really – I quite often go three days without a drink. Two or three days is about how long the guilt and remorse from the last big session plays on my mind for. Then I forget all about it and wine is my best friend again.

Yesterday I went back to work for the first time since I stopped drinking. I don’t work regular hours – I work shifts. They’re 12 hours long and pretty stressful. By the time I get home I’m still wired.

Nothing would help me decompress better than an entire bottle of white wine. Wine and some crap telly would just flick that off switch. Precious ‘me’ time after a busy day.

These are the thoughts swirling round my head today. But I am not going to drink. I am NOT. If I drink a bottle of wine I will wake up on the sofa at 2am. I will crawl into bed for a few hours and then wake up again, tired and dehydrated at 5am. I will have to go to work hungover and sit in the morning meeting wondering if anyone can tell. I will struggle to do my job. I will eat crap all day and then drink again as a reward for getting through the day.

So that is why I’m not going to drink tonight.