by Sinclair Newton
I have this small group of friends who share my affliction and yet still want to have fun.
We've called ourselves "Can't Drink Won't Drink" and it looks great on the chequebook.
The idea is that we get funding and then enjoy ourselves without drinking, which turns out to be easier than we imagined.
Tonight, for instance, we're going to the dogs.
By that, I mean the dog track which seems to have been at Belle Vue (where there used to be a zoo, and I didn't mean that to rhyme) and you can have a meal and watch the racing on TV screens as an alternative to looking out of the window. I suppose it's also an alternative to watching the barmaid looking expectantly at the pub door in the hope someone more interesting will walk in any time now.
You might think that watching thin dogs chase a stuffed rabbit is a bizarre way to spend an evening and I would agree with you, except that (and I kid you not) last year they even raced a greyhound and a pigeon against each other. I think the dog won after the pigeon flew the wrong way. I bet they're not doing that at the pigeon grand prix in Ibiza later this year.
The money for our sober antics comes from a charitable trust and is administered by Alcohol Concern which is the UK's major activist where abuse (or at least, control) of strong drink is concerned.
There are groups setting up all over the place and one day the fledgling organisation may rival Alcoholics Anonymous.
One cheerful band of non-imbibers has formed specifically to go to the opera every three months in London which takes up all their money (it's about a tenner a week each for two years), but gives them some cultural respite from rolling their own fags.
It's true that heavy drinkers tend to smoke more than the average and indeed there's been some research in Canada which indicates that cigarettes trigger the pleasure zone and may be the cause of the drinking in the first place rather than the commonly-held view that it's the other way round.
It's not as plain-sailing as it sounds, because when it comes to spending the money (unless you're an opera buff) it's not always easy to get everyone to agree on what constitutes enjoying yourself without the added lift of a glass or two.
One of our members wouldn't go to a concert by a Pink Floyd soundalike band because he said he's not into rock music.
It is sometimes strange looking at the world
through the bottom of an empty lemonade bottle, but the knowledge that you didn't
have to forgo the mortgage for the lemonade is always help.
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