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Don't get me started: 07/01/2010

I've been prone to long sweaty nights of hallucination recently. My body is recalibrating after deciding to give up the booze for 30 days, and slowly I'm turning into Lady Macbeth. I've been unable to shake the early Simpsons episode Duffless where Homer gives up beer for a month. The terrible afflictions that haunt me nightly are two giant yellow cartoon characters.

Homer: Thirty days.

Marge: I'm proud of you, Homey.

Homer: Marge, I'm going to Moe's. Send the kids to the neighbours, I'm coming back loaded. [He kisses Marge goodbye.]

Marge: Mmmm. You don't have to start drinking right away. I was thinking we could go for a bike ride.

Homer: But Marge, the barflies are expecting me. Larry, and Barney, and that guy who calls me Bill.

Marge: But you look better, you don't sweat when you eat any more, and look [holds up a wad of cash] you've saved more than a hundred dollars. I found it in your pants.

Homer: [snatches money] Yoink!

Marge: Mmmm.

After 30 days sober, like any man, Homer Simpson decided to go and get loaded. Day two of giving up the hooch for January and I'm already regretting my booze-fuelled agreement to forgo the sweet rapture of a sneaky glass of white wine with Tuesday night's bangers and mash. Already sweating constantly at the thought of four epic 12-hour Fridays at work without a creamy pint of Guinness to look forward to at day's end.

January truly is a cruel and unusual month. Each year it brings with it the promise of rebirth, renewal and other re-s that you check off feverishly in the spiritual questionnaire you idle over as the alter-ego -- the imagined you -- is recreated. You're not the slightly floppy, garishly clad, ageing victim that the world sees, instead you're the well-honed machine of popular fiction, a billboard ad for clear-eyed modernity, leaping ideological buildings with classy put-downs and creating with your bare hands.

It's a similar transformation to that usually rendered by boozing solidly for a few hours. An irony as bitter only as the twist of lemon used to sweeten a couple of fingers of Stolichnaya and tonic.

The Christmas boozing season stretches from Hallowe'en to the third or fourth of January. Modern livers aren't built to take it. Exhaustion sets in sometime around early December and you promise you'll take it easy over the break, maybe not really drink except with meals and then only a glass of fine wine. It's a lie.

Despite the near disappearance of the boozy lunch as an acceptable part of any man's day, it seems spending the month of December hungover will still be an expected part of Irish life this decade. Fitting in neatly with our psychotic approach to life so too is the sponsored giving up the booze for January. Who needs moderation when you can flah the hell out of December and redeem yourself in January? Gorge and purge, gorge and purge. They don't call it rebirth for nothing.

One of those December mornings when I was wishing my work computer was a giant Solpadeine dispenser or the warm embrace of my wife, I got suckered into the Drop the Drink movement. They're like the Scientologists (only they raise money for sick children instead of themselves), preying on those who need to be prayed on. So now not alone do I have to give up the booze for the hardest, bleakest month of the year, I've to ask people to give me money for it. Otherwise some kid won't get a new liver. So if the office lush sidles up to you and asks for cash because they've given up the booze, resist belching a laugh in their face and dig deep. Think of the children.


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