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Paddy Cullivan: Christmas with no booze? Easy - if bad TV doesn't force me back to onto it


A man drinking.

A man drinking.

Santa with a beer.

Santa with a beer.


A man drinking.

This will be my first Christmas without drink.

You might think I'm dreading it - but the things I'm dreading have nothing to do with drink. Alcohol used to make these things bearable. How will I cope now?

Already the week leading up to Christmas was as frustrating as it gets, when the whole country went into shut-down, and nary and email or phone call I made was replied to, such was the national loss of discipline due to the 'Christmas spirit'.

But let's look at the positives. My gigs over Christmas have been great. Without booze I had the energy for the big workload that takes place around this time.

I can even tolerate the amount of Christmas music, especially of the American 1950s vintage as done by Nat King Cole, Sinatra and Bing Crosby.


I love Christmas Eve. Every year I play at the Liveline special from Grafton St and we normally repair somewhere for some drinks and sambos. After that it's usually on to other places to meet friends and by 6pm everyone is as 'merry' as can be.

Then the battle begins to see where will open later than that. After that the memory is shaky, but all we know is that Christmas is tomorrow so we'd better get home to watch some awful TV and wrap presents.

I won't have that today, I am five months off the booze so I'll probably be vacating much earlier, after the fiftieth recitation of 'so are you all set for The Christmas?'.

The Christmas Day hangover is one of the great banes of modern life, especially for the person like myself who has to travel down the country.

The empty motorways of Ireland are beautiful on Christmas Day, and will be even better now without that wretched hangover. I'll leave early, clear-headed, presents wrapped in a timely and professional manner.

As I get to Galway I will negotiate the only roundabout network you can see from space and contemplate man's inhumanity to fields.

It's the only time I can get through Galway and out to Connemara without cursing blindly for an hour. This is what I think of as the true meaning of Christmas. Quiet, traffic-free mobility.

It's when I get home the trouble will begin. What is turkey and ham really like without a nice red wine to wash it down?

I've never been a turkey fan. Because I'm not drinking I'll have one helping (seconds only happen when you drink) and there will be acres of food left.

My failed attempts to avoid sugar will reach Beckett-like levels as I gorge on Christmas pudding, cream and coffee.

At least the post-dinner Christmas walk will be decent and I'll want to do a long one, but my true agony will come when Christmas TV is switched on.


In the main, the films will be dreadful and there will be a plethora of 'looking-back' programmes with English comedians that I will have to avoid.

I've never been able to watch movies like Avatar, Titanic or Gladiator without being drunk, so those will have to be avoided.

The misery of the soaps, the unquestioning reaffirmation of needless authority like Mass - all will have to be studiously avoided lest they sway me towards the drink.

At least my parents don't tipple, so that's a help. I'll still be able to hear them asking for help around the house though - which goes against my Christmas 'revert to teenage Paddy and slob out on the couch' default position.

If I can get through all of this without hitting the wine I will give myself a Blue Peter Badge and an International Knighthood from the Order of Bah Humbug. Until then - Merry Christmas!