Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Abstinence, but Not Yet DRINK

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Abstinence, but Not Yet DRINK

Article excerpt

VICTORIA MOORE is saved from temperance by a medicinal Spanish red

Resolutions of temperance engender, for me, a terrible dilemma. Decide that you're drinking too much and you're forced to conclude that you're in the early stages of alcoholism, something no self-respecting drink columnist could ever admit to. Swagger blithely along on the rosy drink-as-you-please, grape-strewn path and all is well with the world.

Sort of. This is the time of year when all those filthy little quizzes peek over the parapet of self-indulgence to torment and threaten and tell you that you're an alcoholic. "Do you drink more than three times a week?" they demand. Make that more than seven. "Have you ever lost chunks of time from your evening?" they squeak. All the time. "Or woken up with unexplained bruises or cuts on your body?" I do believe I may have. "How many times a day do you think about a large, warm glass brimming with soft, velvety red wine?" Stop it, stop it, stop it.

Anyway, biliousness descended and I had to admit that it was time to play a psychological trick or two on myself. I wasn't the only one. My friend Claire said she hadn't had a drink or a cigarette for five days. We pondered this in awed silence as she tidied her desk in the manner of someone with an obsessional disorder. Claire is normally messier than a small puppy. Something was wrong. Slowly, realisation came out of the miasma. Panic bubbles formed, then burst as Nina screeched at full volume: "What are you doing? Not drinking, not smoking, tidying...you'll be on the streets handing out religious literature next."

I don't mind not drinking, but I don't especially want to start behaving like a negative of my current personality. I am still prevaricating when I arrive home to find my latest love standing thoughtfully in the kitchen pondering a cup of tea. …

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