I went to a rock concert on Friday. It was a long drive with a friend who drives me to distraction with her inane chatter. People don't believe me when I talk about this particular friend - she talks from the moment she arrives at my house, throughout the journey, and right up until the gig/play/movie starts, and then she goes silent ... until the interval ... then falls silent again for the 2nd half ... until the gig is over/the curtain comes down/the lights go up. But, because she has no other friends with the same musical/theatrical tastes as her (and because my friends with the same tastes have less holiday/more family commitments) I often end up having no alternative but to arrange things for her and me. This sounds really, really harsh but, see above: she has no other friends. I know why.
I had everything packed: sandwiches to leave in the car for when we got out (you can't take food in) and a flask of coffee (we'd need to warm up by the time we got out) and several small plastic bottles of water (you can only take plastic, sealed, bottles of up to 500ml in). I knew I could sneak in some rum and coke, mixed in a coke bottle, but I decided not to - with the thought in the back of my mind that I could always buy something when I got there if I had to. Listen to me - if I had to. I had a special picnic rug with a plastic back so even if the ground was wet, it wouldn't soak through. I ended carrying it all because Jay doesn't even think of offering to help. I feel like a bloody pack-horse most of the time!
All this background detail, as if I'm trying to make an excuse for needing a drink by the time we got there ... after my Chinese-water-torture-style 4-hour road-trip with Jay.
Outside the venue you can buy tokens that you can exchange for drinks inside - it's a good system, it means no money changes hands inside the venue, and you have to make a decision how much you are going to drink before you get in and get carried away. When I saw that you had to pay £3 for one drink I said no way! One drink would make me want at least another 5 and there was no way I wanted to/could afford to spend £18 on the equivalent of a few shots of rum.
And the concert was fantastic! I could sing along without slurring my words. I didn't need to suddenly rush out to use the ladies' loo. I could stand up on the steep slope without feeling giddy or falling over - unlike the woman behind me, who had been drinking beer all night, who fell into me 3 times without even an apology (she was too drunk to speak properly) and who probably didn't enjoy the concert because she was too far gone.
This isn't a concert review, so I won't go into detail, but when he sang some of his most poignant songs - which make me sob when I'm alone at home with the CD and the bottle - I could sing along with great joy and not get maudlin.
It took a long time to get back to our hotel after the gig - 65,000 people leaving all at the same time, more than 2 hours to get 9 miles - but, because I hadn't had a drink for over a whole day, I was fine after only 5 hours' sleep - no headache, no nausea. I got up and had a huge fried breakfast and enjoyed every mouthful. Instead of dying to get home for a longer sleep and a drink I suggested to Jay that we go to a designer outlet village on the way home, and we had a great few hours, looking at things we could only dream of buying, at prices we could perhaps afford.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip - and if I'd been drinking, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy it to the full extent that I did.
I've had a glass of wine since I came back yesterday. Not because I needed to, but because the open bottle was in the fridge and I fancied one. I'm looking back on the past couple of days and thinking how much more I enjoyed them, having made the decision to stay sober. The past couple of days has helped me think that sobriety - total sobriety - is nothing to be afraid of. I'm still not ready to go there yet, but it doesn't scare me quite as much now.
I know the coming week is going to be a challenge: work is going so badly at the moment that it takes all my resolve not to tell the Powers That Be to f**k off, and walk out. Sadly, there is only me to pay the mortgage and the bills, so I can't do that, but I have to do something. I have formulated a plan with one of the managers, but it's scarey, very scarey ... But I need to have a clear head, so before I go to bed tonight, I will decide whether I am going to commit to an alcohol-free working week. I think I want to.