On April 1st 2005 I stopped drinking alcohol. Fool. Over the preceeding years I had been cutting down from way too much to a couple of pints here and there and a few glasses of wine at the weekend. Alcohol was clearly proving to be a trigger for the UC. It definately first reared its head following nights out - and was too easily shrugged off as a hangover (a weird toilet-bound hangover, but hangover nonetheless). I distinctly remember being away on a stag weekend and spending the 2nd day glued to the toilet, then going out again that night, and so it went: beer/toilet, beer/toilet, beer/toilet until I got home. And STILL classing it as a hangover without batting an eyelid. Eventually the penny dropped and I quit altogether.
This is not actually as hard as it sounds. As long as you have a terrifying week of UC related hospitalisation, that included having to ask a nurse to apply cream to your bumhole because it was agonisingly raw and sleeping opposite a guy whose body would not accept his lovely new colostomy, then its pretty easy. I have good mates, on the whole they have accepted the sober Rich with open arms.
However, it has turned me into badge-wearing, teatotalitarian, holier-than-thou, ivory tower dwelling bore. And everywhere I look I see the steady decline of our once great nation into a booze-ridden abyss. Except it was never that great anyway. There are 2 main things that I've noticed
In the UK every pastime/leisure activity has to be accompanied by drink. Going to a football match, going to the beach, going on a picnic, having a barbeque, going to the shops, walking down the street, going on the bus, watching telly, etc etc etc. OK, so I exaggerate, but I did walk past a park full of people on one of our recent sunny days, and I thought "how pleasantly european", until I got close enough to see the sea of empty bottles and cans, and the apathetic blobs of lobster red flesh lolling in the sun, whereupon 2 blokes staggered out of the park and confronted me with incoherent obscenities. Why oh why oh why must sun=pissed? And now look, I sound like some retired old gimmer from Sussex.
British people view you with suspiscion if you dont drink: "what can i get you to drink mate?" "Oh, cheers, I'll have a coke please" "Coke? Wot, you drivin'?" "Um, nooo, I er don't drink..." "Wot?" "I dont drink." "WHY?" "Well..." So how do you explain that you have a disloyal colon and drinking may infact lead to you pooping your pants, perhaps even by the end of the night? One chap (looooovely guy - rugby playing pig farmer) once threatened to "punch" my "f**kin face off" because I wouldn't drink the lovely pint he'd insisted on buying me. Still, he was pissed, so thats ok...
Anyway, I've now taken to saying I'm a recovering alcoholic which proves to create awe amongst those I'm talking to, and actually has lead people to vehemently tell others not to buy drinks for me.
Well, I went out for a good friends birthday last night, and drank loads of coke and couldn't sleep afterwards. But none of them care if I drink or not, God love 'em. So, it was a great night and the only thing I had to complain about was the volume of the music... Just call me Victor.