Sunday 19 November 2017

'Was I creating my own misery, digging my own grave?' - John McKiernan on why he quit booze for good

As John McKiernan continues his mission to stop us boozing, he extols the virtues of an alcohol-free life

John McKiernan
John McKiernan

John McKiernan

I'm coming out. I don't drink. There, I said it. I'm sorry. I know this will be hardest on my family and friends. Perhaps they've known all along.

I used to drink non-alcoholic beer out of pint glasses just to fit in. Such was my meekness.

I only did it to avoid the military-style interrogation - Are you not drinking? Why aren't you drinking? Are you a dipso? What's wrong with you? Have a bleedin' drink, will ya? You can have the one!

God, I don't know, what is wrong with me? Why can't I just enjoy a drink like everyone else? Why can't I just stop at two like everyone else? Everyone else stops at two, right? I can't make it work. I don't fit in. I don't belong. They're right, there is something wrong with me. Why don't I just feck off back to wherever I came from, and leave all the happy drinkers alone? No one cares anyway; no-one wants to know; no-one wants you here; leave us alone.

We're perfectly happy here. Aren't we? Guys? Well, actually, he's not happy, that guy who has been living at the bar for 20 years; he's miserable. And I know this woman, she drinks wine about four nights a week. To be honest, she cries herself to sleep at night. She's completely miserable, too, and her health is in the toilet. But besides them, we're all having a great time.

I thought drink was the antidote, the elixir of life, the confidence-giver, the stress reliever, the relaxant to end all relaxants. The party maker.

It worked, it worked so well . . . until it didn't.

It began to take more than it gave. For every high, I got a low. I was on the roller coaster and so was everyone else. No-one dared get off.

Oh shit! I feel sick. I gotta get off.

And so I did.

I now sit at home drinking tea on my own. It's a strange form of bliss that I never expected. Of course, I'm older now, and just can't hack the sesh the way I used to. A can of Coke used to cure my hangover, now it takes three days of meditation and saunas. I was childish and greedy and immature in my drinking and thinking.

Everyone knows we're great crack, but who are we without the booze?

Is our true identity dry shites with nothing to say, and a crack lobotomy once the booze is removed?

Were we born two drinks shy of our true selves? Do we have an alcohol deficiency that science hasn't discovered yet? Or is that just me?

Is that the missing link? The theory of everything and a large gin and tonic.

Who was I before I started drinking; how did I cope then? Just fine, I think.

Surely that can't be it. Surely the antidote isn't the poison?

It cannot be. Was I creating my own misery, digging my own grave?

Ah, jayus! The feckers. They dressed it up in sexy bottles and promised joy and laughter, but, hidden away, was that little 4.5pc of an addictive depressant drug that went and magnified all of my miseries.

I was using it to feel better, and it actually made me feel worse.

It does exactly what it doesn't say on the tin! The lousers.

Are ya right there, folks, please? I have bothered you enough. See what not drinking does to you?

I'll get my coat.

I'll retreat now to the outer margins of society, alone with my tea-drinking buddies, hoping some day for recognition, and abolition, for release and acceptance into society.

What with the smoking ban, the gay vote and Shane MacGowan going off the booze, maybe, just maybe, we'll drop the drink and pick up the tea again.

We'll see drink for the poison that it is and create a new identity for ourselves in the 21st Century - no longer the stout-filled fools of Europe but the sexy, healthy, intelligent, talented bunch of wild, mad feckin' eejits that we are.

Sober, Sharon, sober! Drunk doesn't count.

Feck drink! Will ya have a cup o' tea? Go on, go on, ya will.

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