Monday, 15 January 2007

Drinking, dating and defaults

A couple of posts ago, I promised that I would provide you, dear fans of TS&F, with an update on how the drinking was going. Out with a delightfully broad cross-section of the Gang yesterday afternoon, one of them (Little Agony Uncle since you’re asking) enquired as to why that update had not appeared, and I answered that as yet I didn’t feel that I’d quite worked out what my feelings were. I should have expected nothing less from an experienced agony uncle but was nonetheless still stunned by the simple brilliance of his advice: “Tell it to the blog.” So, here goes…

Since I took the big decision to try quitting for a while, and, following the success of that experiment, the arguably bigger decision to then try drinking again, I have certainly regained - or possibly, just gained – a sense of control about my drinking that was missing. It feels wonderful to be able to say that because, well aware as I was of the physical damage I was doing myself, and the wastefulness of spending entire weekends sleeping off the effects of one night’s drinking, it was the lack of control that had really scared me and finally prompted me to find the stop button. I still don’t feel that I’ve quite got the degree of control that I would like to have however, and as result my relationship with alcohol is still at best ambivalent.

It’s really hard to define what it is that I’m unsure about, but as I’m ‘telling it to the blog’ I’ll let you be the judge of whether what I’m saying makes sense. Since stopping, albeit for just a few weeks, there’s been a paradigm shift in my default drinking mode from drinking almost every day to drinking hardly any days, and from drinking more and faster than pretty much anyone to drinking no more and often much less than everyone. I’ve had a couple or three hangovers but nothing on the scale of ‘the old days’ and I’m satisfied that these have not been because of particularly excessive drinking – my biggest bender having been New Year’s Eve and even that was nothing compared to, say, my Bloodbath party - but because my body’s tolerance of and ability to process alcohol has retuned itself from that of a heavy drinker to that of a moderate one. Most satisfyingly, there have been no blackouts, no memory loss, no stripping naked and leaping into hot tubs (other than stone-cold sober in Chariots but that’s not for here), no turning up at afternoon parties already hammered and terrorising the children…you get the picture.

Yesterday I spent a pretty-much-perfect few hours with the boys in Le Shaz Bar and had just one shandy; last week at dinner with Big Sis I had one beer; on neither occasion did I want any more. So, complete abstinence I can do, and ‘just the one’, I can do; the grey area comes when I allow myself – and it really does feel like allowing myself – to drink, those nights (or days) when I consciously decide that drinking is on the agenda. Friday night and Saturday just gone were both such times, the former Glenda’s birthday drinks, the latter an enjoyable but ultimately unsuccessful date with the sexy Saffa from just after Christmas. On both occasions I followed the ‘old’ (and for most, ‘normal’) pattern of one drink after another and both times reached a point where I didn’t want to have any more; I’d chosen to press the ‘stop’ button.

The difficulty is that to be able to push the button, I have to be able to reach it, and it’s never in the bar or club or party that I’m at. If I stay, I’ll stay drinking – it’s as simple as that. I don’t think this is the ‘alcohol allergy’ that Bubble described; I can and do stop at or very near to the moment of my choosing; I just can’t quite get my head around doing that in whatever my present surroundings might be. Instead I have to do a Cinderella-like flit home, to the security – and sobriety – of home; to the sofa, a cup of tea, some chocolate…sources of comfort other than the bottle. Socially it can make things awkward. On the date, for example, about four hours and five or so pints in, I tried to engineer our going back to mine. Of course that was in part with the ulterior motive of getting a bit closer to the gorgeous hunk o’ spunk (that sadly was not on his agenda, unbelievable as that may be) but primarily because I knew that if we stayed out I would end up plastered and I just didn’t want to be. I guess through giving it so much thought – any thought even – I’ve created for myself a new guilt about drinking whereby anything more than ‘just the one’ triggers a thought process that can become quite self-accusatory.

All this leaves me not quite knowing what to do. I could quit drinking altogether, as not doing something is the only sure-fire way to not feel guilty about doing it, but for a reason I can’t yet grasp I don’t ‘want’ to be teetotal. I enjoy good wines, good whisky, a cocktail, a glass of champagne, and I don’t want to give those up. What I need to get to grips with is how to drink socially, if such a thing even exists. Maybe I’m sweating it all a bit too much; maybe I should just go a bit easier on myself and not beat myself up if I get a bit pissed at the weekend – everyone does, right? Or maybe a bit of self-tough-loving is the key to getting this drinking thing licked. For now, I’m happy, things are good, the future’s bright and I must say, that Agony Uncle gives damn good advice because ‘telling it to the blog’ - and may I thank you for indulging me - has made things a whole lot clearer than they were just 24 hours ago!

Monday, 8 January 2007

Amy, mea culpa

Although it may seem hypocritical given my first ever post, I couldn't help but feel very sad when I read the report about Amy Winehouse's shambolic performance (or more precisely, lack thereof) at G-A-Y on Saturday night. She was clearly off her face on the Friday Night Project the night before, and I doubt she'd even sobered up from that bout of drinking before embarking on the one that saw her so publicly shamed in front of two thousand baying gays. Queuing for Ghetto on Saturday we saw the steps to the stage door at G-A-Y being sluiced down with soapy water and joked that Amy had probably thrown up on the way in; if only we'd known the half of it...

When I wrote that first post, I really was amused - yes, amused is the right word - at how she'd behaved on Char's Show. Thinking it was a one-off, I found it hilarious that anyone could be so downright irresponsible as to get twatted before filming a TV appearance (albeit not a 'live' one as claimed.) I sent my account of that night's events to Holy Moly and it made the headline story, and wasn't I pleased with myself about that? But that of course was before I faced up to my own problems with drink and now, far from finding Amy's crazy-bitch antics entertaining, I find them saddening.

I can't help but wonder what the fuck the people around her are doing. Sure, Amy's problems are hers alone and the only person who can tell Amy that she has a problem is Amy. A friend with a drink problem, or any kind of addiction, is like the apocryphal elephant in the room; everyone will gladly talk around it but only the very brave will talk about it. But besides her friends, surely Amy's record company, manager, agent, stylist, hairdresser (yes I'm sure she has one, despite appearances), driver and so on who should be asking themselves what the hell they're doing to earn their money if they let Amy go on stage like that. It must have been obvious that she wasn't fit to perform on Charlotte Church, Buzzcocks, Friday Night Project and now G-A-Y and that if she did she would humiliate herself, and yet no-one has seemingly had the guts or, more to the point, the simple human kindness to say, 'No, sorry love. You can't go on tonight. We'll tell 'em you've got flu,' before giving her the mother of all bollockings in the hope that she will admit to herself, as only she can, that something must be done. If they think that by letting her go on stage pissed out of her beehive-topped head every night, she'll sooner or later learn her lesson, then they are being at best naive and at worst downright cruel. More likely is that the more bad press she gets for turning up smashed, the more disillusioned and paranoid Amy will become, fuelling more drinking in search of the - to her - blissful abandonment that liquor in sufficient quantities brings.

I titled that first post 'Amy needs rehab.' I'm not sure it's rehab that Amy needs now, but she sure needs something. Maybe someone really close to be brave enough to tell her she has a problem. Maybe to have that one flash of clarity where one realises for oneself that something is wrong. Maybe she just needs someone to hold her and love her and tell her that everything's going to be alright. Whatever it is Amy Winehouse needs, I hope she gets it before it's too late. From me, she gets an apology for not knowing then what I know now - that there's nothing funny about being a drunk.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Thirty, single, fabulous...and f**king busy!

Yes! It’s me, I’m back! Did you miss me? Good, because I’ve missed you like crazy – it’s true!

The lack of recent entries here on thirtysingleandfabulous is due quite simply to my having been so darned busy. Two nights after the Molton Brown experience I went to the closing night of Bent at the Trafalgar Studios which was as brilliant as it was harrowing, and left us – me, Glenda, Our Lady of Chappelle and Margo and Jerry – rather lost for words, unable to quite express how grateful we newly were for the sexual freedoms we take for granted. The following weekend, at my first gay wedding, I was again reminded of just how bloody fortunate we are. Despite the anodyne surroundings of Brixton Register Office, the unintentional hilarity of the piped music (‘I’m Not In Love’ and ‘Love on The Rocks’, for Christ’s sake!) and the language barrier – one groom was French, the other Brazilian, neither could quite pronounce ‘civil partnership’ – it was beautiful and very moving to witness such a tangible manifestation of gay equality. OK, I’m off the soapbox now; what else have I been up to?

The week before Christmas was a hoot. It started with a moment I’d awaited for the preceding 13 weeks – the crowning of America’s Next Top Model (Danielle in case you missed it; yes I was surprised too but thank GOD it wasn’t Jade) Then on the Wednesday – my last day at work, hurrah! - I spent a typically hilarious evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing with Miss Adelaide and Andrea Bianco (who was half-celebrating, half-commiserating having walked out of his new job of just three weeks, his boss having turned out to be the living incarnation of Miranda Priestley) Having completed my Christmas shopping in one meticulously planned commando raid on W1 on Thursday morning, the evening was spent enjoying drinks, canap├ęs and champagne (vintage, and a gold medal winner at the Decanter awards, Glenda authoritatively informed the hosts upon presenting it) chez Margo and Jerry. Their house is fast becoming quite the most stylish place to see and be seen in the gay village, thanks to the flair with which they entertain, and this particular evening was no exception.

The following evening Mother arrived, ready for the trip up to Big Sister’s on the Saturday, and I was delighted that she was in sufficiently good health (physical and mental) to come with me to Dolly’s Christmas drinks soiree. Chaperoned by TWBD, I took Mother on what would be her first ever trip to Brixton and despite remaining fairly firmly glued to Dolly’s sofa she was nonetheless on great form, managing to polish off three bottles of Sol, a gin and tonic and about a pint of bubbly without any visible signs of drunkenness (like Mother, like son…!) Once I had taken her back to mine and ensured she was medicated, tucked up and sound asleep, I rejoined Dolly and the rest of the partygoers - including in addition to the Hollogays, Hollywood Rob and Princess Timmy – at Barcode VauHo for more bevies and boogying. Wishing to keep up the alliteration I finished off the evening by popping next door for a bit of bum-fun, and what a lovely way to round off the evening that turned out to be

The Saturday saw us depart for Norfolk and Christmas at Big Sister’s, which in a festive nut selection nutshell can be summarised as five days of pure joy; great company, great food (and mountains of it), fabulous presents (I nearly died of shock when Mother gave me two extremely tasteful and perfectly fitting items of clothing!) and a totally chilled atmosphere with not a single raised voice all the time we were there.

Arriving back on the Wednesday and with Mother safely despatched on her homeward journey, I arranged to hit the town with OLoC, Glenda’s planned drinks party having sadly had to be cancelled due to its host having flu. Much as I had had a gorgeous time with the family, as had OLoC with his, I needed to reacquaint myself with civilisation and as we were both in the mood for a warm welcome, cold drinks and hot boys, we headed for Le Bar de Kaz. There we met up with The Canadian who, through the sniffling brought on by his ‘white Christmas’, informed me that he has decided to settle down with one – just one! – of his current beaux. For you dear reader this means fewer tales of The Canadian and his pan-continental sexploits; for me it simply means that our catch-ups will be rather less difficult to follow.

Tipsy (yes, tipsy! You heard right!) and randy we moved on to Los Dos Brewos, and both OLoC and I were successful in finding company for the night – his a very cute scally type who took him back to (where else?) Peckham; mine a rather gorgeous and (thank you baby Jesus) sillily well-endowed South African lad who kept me busy until well into the next afternoon – they don’t call it a ‘job’ for nothing… (On that topic, I’d welcome readers’ suggestions as to new ways to reply to the compliment ‘You give great head’. Currently I either just say ‘Thanks’ or more often ‘Yes, I do,’ but I’d like a wittier riposte. Answers on a saucy postcard please.)

On New Year’s Eve Eve it was back to the Kaz to meet The Ex and a few of his crew (to one of whom, it later transpired, he is newly-enfianced) for Saturday beers, thence to the fully-recovered Glenda’s for copious amounts of fizz and gossip into the night.

My New Year’s Eve party was fabulously fun and unexpectedly well-attended. I’d expected just a handful but was delighted to welcome OLoC, Dolly, Glenda, Princess Timmy and cute ickle friend thereof, KLo and Mr Media (a gay man trapped in a woman’s body going out with a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body, and boy do the gays love ‘em both), The Ex and The Ex’s New Man (who for the record seems very nice), Smurphy, Judders and Dr Az. All came bearing liquor (and quality liquor at that – my friends have class), and I laid on some nibbles, played some cool tunes through the slinky iPod speakers Santa brought me, conversation flowed, merriment was made and 2007 was seen in in an atmosphere of love and laughter that bodes well for the year ahead.

Waking on 01/01/07 with only my second hangover in eight weeks (the first having been the morning after the South African…well I hadn’t had a chance to sleep off the drink!) I gladly accepted an invitation from The Ex to go round to his for the SW19 premier of Sarah Jane Adventures, the teatime Doctor Who spin off ostensibly for kids but which seems much more aimed at the The Gays than at The Brats. (There was some sort of plot involving an aggressively marketed fizzy drink whose shady but superficially altruistic manufacturer seemed set on world domination, which whilst serving as a clever critique of the current state of global capitalism was far less of a draw for me than the fact it had that Harley off Footballer’s Wives in it looking hot.) Smurphy and Judders - both as drunk as it is physiologically possible to be without the liver imploding – having left, I found myself in the very Noughties but less-uncomfortable-than-it-could-have-been position of chilling in front of the TV with The Ex and his new man in what used to be my front room. After a while (and eager to be on the sofa in time for The Vicar of Dibley) I headed home, washed up the glassware and threw out the debris from NYE, and settled down with a curry to see Dawn French tie the knot with him off Robin Hood. I cried, natch.

All of which brings us pretty much bang up to the minute, other than to update you all on how the drinking’s going…but that I think deserves a post of it’s own so watch, as ever, this space.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Blog Design | 2007 Company Name