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
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
There are groups setting up
all over the place and one day the fledgling organisation may rival Alcoholics
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
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.