Today is a notable day in anybody’s calendar but it’s one that marks the anniversary of many significant occasions for me.
It’s the day I’ve fallen victim to many brilliant and sometimes traumatic fooleries. It’s the day I convinced my best friend I was madly in love with her. And it’s the day that the greatest, jolliest joker on this planet passed away (that one really wasn’t funny Granddad).
April Fool’s Day 2019 marks the one year anniversary of my supposed move to Hong Kong. The one that nine months of daily conversations, emails and agreed plans had told me was going to happen. The one that never did.
And I guess that was pretty symbolic, because after all it was shining a light on the greatest joke there ever was – my life.
Non, je ne regrette rien
This year, things have flip reversed a little and my foolery is under the spotlight for a very different reason: I don’t drink anymore. And I chose those words carefully for the sheer fact that tee total carries such a stigma and saying I’ve been sober for X amount of months turns it into something it’s not.
something it’s not.
This was a lifestyle choice and it came about through mindful living.
A year ago, more or less to this day, I started a mindful experiment that would change the world around me forever. And ever since that day I’ve been applying a heightened awareness to everything I do.
I looked back on all the years I’ve let the devil’s poison pass my lips and smiled, because some of my greatest memories have been with a glass of something in hand.
Like lying on a lilo in the Mediterranean Sea with my best friend, both cradling an ice cold bottle of rosé as we cackled our heads off at the Benicassim madness from the night before.
Somehow ending up backstage with The Kings of Leon drinking beers in Cologne and then, even more bizarrely, sipping champagne with Lionel Ritchie in The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair pretending not to be remotely bothered by the fact I was sitting with an actual A-lister while secretly trying to video the whole thing.
Wine tasting at a beautiful castle in the hills of Tuscany overlooking vineyards that stretched out as far as the eye could see and sipping on a tawny port in a country pub after a long winter’s walk. That ice cold beer that was handed to me at the finish line of Tough Mudder having just been electrocuted moments before.
The cosy nights in, the wild nights out and everything in between – alcohol was one of my closest friends for many years.
But when I applied that deeper level of cognisance to drinking, it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Bravo pour la clown
I started thinking more deeply about how different cultures have different relationships with drinking and how Britain’s reputation is one of the worst.
We’re Brits Abroad, we’re boozers and we don’t know when to stop.
There’s no doubt a whole host of social and economic factors that are to blame for particularly boozed up geographies like ours, but I actually think that on the whole, having a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol is a universal issue.
It’s complex combination of appeal and addiction that dates back to our ancestral pasts; reactions and behaviours that are so deeply rooted in our psychological wiring we barely even notice them.
We drink for the taste, for the feeling and for fun. We drink to fit in and we drink to stand out. We drink to feel less nervous, be more sociable; to be the centre of attention or to hide away. We drink to make boring situations less boring. We drink to remember and we drink to forget.
One of the biggest problems with layering ourselves in liquor is that we distort our reality.
We cloud our thoughts, our judgements and we paper over cracks. And we very rarely pay attention to how it all makes us feel – because just like a French Martini, ignorance is bliss.
But the more awareness I gave to this big and mindless part of my life, the more I fell out of love with it. After just a few mindful sips I was physically feeling my energy levels deplete, witnessing my thoughts slow down and helplessly watching my mood sink.
My once romanticised glass of organic, biodynamic Nero D’Avola was becoming less and less of a liquid artform, a ruby elixir and a luxury for the lips. It was turning into the Devil’s poison.
Then I looked around me at others.
The rich, the poor, the strugglers and the performers, the eccentrics, the conformists, the workaholics and the party animals. It didn’t matter who they were or what they did, I saw so many people suffering, so many people hiding from reality behind glazed eyes.
La vie en rose
I guess the end game for me was a culmination of factors, when all of my goodness collided. It was the moment that I realised that alcohol was the only thing that stood between me and my success.
Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who famously said ” work is the curse of the drinking classes”? Well if it was, he was right.
Everybody knows that hangovers over the age of thirty last three days on average and with starting up two businesses I definitely didn’t have time to be hiding under a blanket feeling sorry for myself.
I was sick of filling my body with toxins and slowing it down, I was sick of giving 90% to fitness and leaving room for excuses. I knew that a booze free life, one that’s filled with nutrient rich food, good sleep, exercise and lots of laughter can prevent ageing and I’d choose beetroot over botox any day.
And what about mood? Alcohol is a depressant, we all know that but more often than not we choose to ignore it. And it wasn’t until I started paying attention to its effects that I realised just how much it alters thoughts and lets negativities spiral out of control.
It came to a point where the bad outweighed the good and I decided I didn’t want to escape reality. In fact, more than that – I didn’t want to miss out on reality. I wanted to feel every single moment of it; to appreciate the good, deal with the bad and cope with the ugly, all with a completely clear mind.
So I quit.
Carmel 3 April 2019
Gosh Laurie great stuff well done!