Easter holidays. Springtime associations of refreshment, rebirth.

Despite an overarching theme of annual rejuvenation – green shoots of recovery and all that – over the Easter weekend the negative implications of return and revisitation sat squat upon the mantelpiece. A chocolate figurine of Cthulhu, glowering.

With a dismal sense of familiarity, I found myself struggling through a four day festival of booze triggers. Classic sweet and sour British combinations of hot weather, no work to endure, personal and social stresses kicking about half-resolved and shoulder-barging good vibes aside, football matches not even remotely going one’s way…

The perfect half-empty cup for topping up with a little something to Set You On and See You Through.

The weather was kind of awesome. In particular, I was jonesing for iced cider – “Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider.” Ah, crisp freshness! The sun meandering into that golden hour glow, refracting through the glasses, the mellow clink and fizz of fresh cubes dropped in.

Then of course a turn to paschal red wine for sorrow and mournful contemplation as the weekend pressed on, and a heaviness accumulated in the air, suggesting rain and thunder were needed if not quite imminent.

It wasn’t just the football. For me, considering the combination of contributory factors, there’d been a fair bit of build up. It was bound to take a week or so of not having work to take one’s mind off things to filter through. Family things… and I need to get a new job, so there’s all sorts of associated existential angst, and blah, blah, blah – how about a beer?

Because that was another element that recurred, a familiar odour in among the cocoa wafts and barbecue scents and fresh mowed grass, generating instant recall. The little voice questioning what business I had in not drinking, in denying the urge to fest and to commiserate with such a true and tested companion.

Savour the solace! Trust it. Let it soothe and slake your thirst. Let it slip down and softly caress away those cares and strifes…

Kind of Kaa in The Jungle Book? Only I was on to it, so the voice modulated into sounding more like Sylvester the cat, thuth lothing itth efficathy.

So, no. Every excuse I was making for myself to have at it and recommence boozing was allowed to express itself, then given a polite yet firm nod of acknowledgement before being shooed away.

I mean, yes, I seemed to have eaten my weight in sugary treats… but even that ebbed over Monday, as with a final baleful glance ever-waiting dread Cthulhu slunk off in search of someone else to pester, leaving a trail of chocolatey footprints.

What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise.

Today I made it to 72 days off boozing, anyway. A number of cosmic significance! Re-set.

Had a productive night despite “not feeling it” in any sort of sense. By the end of that process, managed to have actually achieved something, even though I didn’t really feel like I had, but I had.

O mind, what slipp’ry fuckery is this
with which thou dost my daily chores attend?
Surely thou couldst thy chunterings abate,
if only for a bless’d second’s respite;
turn from thy dull and prating rattle
to modes melodious, soothing and becalmed,
not these inconstant-yet-constant alarms,
that squeak, and chide, and taunt, and offer nought
but discord and doubt, when thou couldst assure
with but one word of self-love, cheer or praise?

– Anon., At the Sign of The Doubtful Salmon, c.1609



More shipshape verb than shipshape noun though.

Not feeling fit for much but crossword clue allusions to the state of things.

Arrived at the joinery department tonight to place top on table. Discovered that this would entail, in the TV chef manner, that I first make my table top.

While my initial reaction was that as tasks go, this took the biscuit, I quickly warmed to the idea.

Three sections of timber, cut to roughly the dimensions required, needed to be joined up.

“Biscuits,” said the instructor.

“Biscuits,” I agreed with a nod, mouthing “Biscuits?” through an imagined fourth wall.

Equipment needed here would include a biscuit jointer, which is a tool used to cut crescent-shaped slots in the sides of the timber. Simple and satisfying to use!

You then liberally apply glue (we use Cascamite, a strong powdered resin wood adhesive), and insert the ‘biscuits’, which are dry ovals of compressed wood. These expand when they come into contact with the glue and form a strong bond between the pieces.

The gluing was also satisfying… slathering it on, squidging the sections together, then lining them up and clamping.

You can just about make out the marking up: a pair of diagonal lines forming a V across the sections removes any possibility of sticking them together the wrong way round.

Then I practised dovetail joints… but I’ll save those for a later occasion.

Next week: Random Orbital Sander (either another tool or a Stereolab track). Meanwhile, perhaps a biscuit. Rewards!




Among the benefits of having a clear head in the evening is the freeing up of synapses that would otherwise be closed down. Engagement circuits, the ones governing (self)care, the bits that get irate, unhappy, the ones that get over-excited. It is also, longer term, the bits that cover amusement and enjoyment as well; all blissfully fuzzed over and turned down, ‘dark’ setting, less brightness.

With the absence of the dampener of alcohol, all of those come back on, which can be both boon and bane. I find myself spending hours trying to get the same kind of levelling off from reading… content, input, til I find the click.

Current status: a modest 10 tabs open, one of which is WordPress, where I’m typing this. I follow a lot of newsletters, all of which link to stuff I find interesting for different reasons.

So, keeping the head busy, but there’s always more content. Input…

Probably room to improve the filtration here too!

Trying to get things written here and all there is is this overriding desire to read about the football match there just was, and the football matches there are left. Two days after the game and it’s all there is.

When Leeds were struggling in mid-table, hobbling along, it was easier to not give a toss, somehow. I mean, every game still wrenched and elated, but there seemed less consequence.

The possibility – the suggestion – of success is exhausting.


34 days – that’s over a month off, isn’t it? Go me.

Moving on in time, I still see a point in scratching away the little five bar gates on the wall here.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the value of carrying on. With the writing, I mean. The usual feelings of ‘who cares?’, the fact that even I don’t, to an extent… I mean, I am getting on with stuff, not dwelling on My Sober Life. It’s good, though. I like sitting at the keyboard bashing the pieces out. The posting is not so far too much of a hassle to maintain.

Riffling through some folders, though, in search of something suggestive, I found a diary note from about eight years ago. Hilarity. It’s the same stuff I’m writing about now, somewhat obviously. Looking back on it makes me smile kind of tiredly.

It’s all in the way that pretty much everything I feel dogmatically certain of, or at least excited enough to make note of, turns out a few years later to be ever so slightly at least 10mm of twist out.

Celebrating academic success, employment, friends’ weddings, solstice… one good reason after another. The weekend, the weekend starting early, the midweek hump, Monday horrors. It goes to way back before summer, back through spring, where each green shoot was worthy of a toast, to winter… back and back in a sequence of drinks, those wet circles linking back in an Olympic chain to a massive ring on the wall of the dungeon.
What I recognise in the continuing drinking, where the pint becomes two, becomes two-fer or three-fer bottles of wine, the false economics of alcohol dependency, is that I have still got my head fogged to an extent by fears of the past. Fear of past fuck-ups repeating themselves, repeated fears I have known in the past. The past like bad dreams, always a weird Holbein skull skewed, distorted, foregrounding the bleached bones in the green grass and purple heather. Rarely a view of the wider vista, the good things I can look back upon with contentment, that balance emerged from.

Taking control, I recognise this excited feeling, the very cells and atoms in my hands tingling with energy.

Stuck record. So, yeah, everything’s going well, good attainment there… but I will continue to notch the walls for now.

Keep my eyes wide open all the time, as someone once said.

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