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Sobering Thoughts

29 March 2001
Jamie comes clean.

My name's Jamie. And I'm an alcoholic.

That always sounds more melodramatic than it's supposed to. I'd rather, if you could go back and read it again, that you could take it just as a plain statement of fact instead of a confession, an unburdening of some dark secret. I'm OK with it. Really. I should want to give up, dry out, but I honestly don't. It's because I like drink too much; just as I couldn't become a vegetarian because I'd miss steaks and fry-ups, I can't really contemplate living for another fifty years without ever having another pint, another glass of wine. It's an all or nothing situation, and I can't live with the nothing.

Alcoholism gets a bad press, really. What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word? Probably George Best falling over in a bar, or Ollie Reed offering to whip his cock out at a bunch of feminists. But I'm not one for getting stupidly drunk, especially in public - you'll find that most alcoholics can hold their drink better than others, hardly surprising given the practice we put in. The sort you read about in the papers, or the regular drunks you see in your local, are just that: drunks. I keep my drinking to myself because of bitter experience: when people find out, they try to help, they get involved, they start to care, and then they get hurt. Anyone reading this will be someone I don't know and won't see and can't damage. And to them, Jamie's just another faceless pseudonym in cyberspace.

Sorry, starting to sound a little downbeat there. As it's evening and I can get away with it, I'm on the whisky, and I can get a little maudlin sometimes after a drop of the Macallan. I'm better during the day: I tend to drink vodka then, as it's almost impossible to smell on the breath and keeps me at a kind of low burn instead of swinging me through extremes. I still make a twat of myself sometimes, pissing about in the office or with friends, overcompensating I guess - but it's become an accepted part of my personality rather than a cause for concern, and now I have to keep it up or people ask why I'm being so quiet today. That's when they start to see the cracks in the mask, the palmed card, the wires holding up Thunderbird 2.

And essentially, this is why I couldn't get sober if I tried - it's not that the drink helps me to keep my own tempo high, it's more a case of being so tired after a day of keeping everyone happy that another drink's all I can face. An evening at home, stone cold sober, with nothing but Changing Rooms and The Bill for company - I'd rather not, thanks.

Anyway, I was trying to say I'm not a depressive. OK, there's a destructive side to alcoholism which I can't deny, but I enjoy my life as it is. I like the continual warm glow that the booze gives me. I like the way it can get me through a boring meeting (I used to swig whisky at school before double German), a difficult situation, a decision I'm wavering on - just have a drink and choose the path of least resistance, life gets easier by the day.

And don't say you don't recognise some of yourself in here: how many times have you pulled someone when sober? When you've got half a pint of Smirnoff in your bloodstream, stripped of the fear of embarrassment or rejection, how much easier is it? Alcohol can release the good side of you, the fun and carefree, the generous, the courageous, the affectionate; it's not all about bitterness, aggression and incoherence.

Speaking of which, leading a normal, coherent life while drunk is surprisingly easy. I do have the occasional problems with memory loss - days when I can't remember how I got to work, standing on a platform and not having a clue where I'm going, even a rare week that goes completely blank - but I never, ever let it interfere. I've not missed a deadline or let my standards slip, I've got the best attendance record in the office, I always remember birthdays and keep all my promises. I'm far more stable than most other people I know, to be honest.

The only area I feel guilty about is driving. Especially giving other people lifts, in fact. I'm torn between laughing and crying when people tell me I'm a good driver, that they feel safe with me at the wheel; even if I know I'm in control, the fact that I'm at least three times over the limit at all hours is not something I'm proud of. I've never had an accident in my life; I'm a lot safer than those pensioners that end up going the wrong way down a motorway, or a kid who's just passed his test and wants to show off to his mates. Still, I'm in the wrong, and I know it.

But like I said, fuck it all. Life is sweet, and when rejection or responsibility threaten to disrupt my blissful state, I can roll with the punches. And if you're going to the bar, mine's a large one. Cheers.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

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