And so the See-Saw of Sin continues. I’ve really stalled since around Christmas time, putting on weight one week, losing it (just) the next, but there’s been no real progress in the last three months, and I’m concerned that I’ve lost that vital momentum one needs to keep going. The one positive I still have, is that I do believe my target is possible, whereas back in the summer, before I started this, it was impossible for me to picture myself three stone lighter. Once I got into it, however, and I was seeing fast results, the unattainable suddenly became a little more tangible. I was hitting targets and feeling great – one begets the other, after all. But I also realised that the reason I’d got so far, was that I’d practically locked myself in the apartment and become a hermit. Not so in 2013.
I do know that food is not my issue. I am not an overeater and never have been. But I do find it hard not to drink when I go out. That is a problem, and I think it’s a problem that many of us have. We’re binge drinkers, 30- and 40-something binge drinkers. That term was first coined when we were teenagers, chucking Thunderbird and Mad Dog 20/20 down our throats every Friday night after sending the ‘oldest looking one’ into the corner shop to buy the stuff for us, so we could sit in the park and pretend to be the funniest, bravest people in the world, getting pissed on alcoholic fruit juice. But just because we’re grown-up now (yeah…), maybe with families, mortgages, and other pressures to replace the teenage angst, it doesn’t mean our behaviour patterns necessarily change. And we’re still drinking alcoholic fruit juice.
I don’t even think about alcohol when I’m at home. I happily go through my week working, reading, writing, watching too much American telly – the usual – and it never occurs to me to have a drink, or even want one. It’s when I go out. There’s something about that social bonhomie that just lends itself to opening a bottle of wine, something about putting the world to rights in the corner of a dingy old pub that necessitates a pint of lager, not a can of Coke. And one, leads to another one, to another one, because that’s what alcohol does, it makes you want it. That’s the whole point of it. It’s a drug, a drug that kills more people every year than heroin/cocaine/cannabis/ecstasy and everything else combined. But because it’s a legal, socially acceptable drug, we somehow downgrade it in our heads to “a good drug” or worse “not a drug at all”. I’m not going to moralise about the dangers of alcohol, we all know them, and I bloody love the stuff so I’d be a hypocrite to start saying rubbish like “we should all be a little more responsible…” etc etc. I guess all I’m really saying is, alcohol is really buggering up my diet, which is the most important thing to me right now, obviously, not the state of my liver, my other organs, my withering soul etc etc…
Since my last blog, I’ve been to see friends in Nottingham, where we watched the National…in a pub (won a few quid on “Oscar Time”, thanks very much, horsey…). Aside from the drinking, this sojourn unfortunately also involved a couple of double sausage McMuffins and too many croissants (thanks a lot), a curry, and a massive Sunday lunch when I got back to mum’s. Ironically, though, I never had a hangover during my Nottingham weekend, so there’s obviously no rhyme or reason to that whole “feeling like shit” thing, the morning after the night before. Spike, Pep, Dave, Lulu, Maria, Adrian, Helen, Ben, even Murrin…thanks for a top, top weekend.
Thankfully, the lack of a hangover meant I could really enjoy the journey home which, time permitting, is always the scenic route. There are two main ways of getting between Nottingham and Liverpool (not counting the M1/M62, which nobody uses anymore). You can do the “Direct But Deathly Boring” A50/M6/M62, via Stoke (enough said), which only takes 90 minutes. But, Nottingham-bound, once you get to the end of the A50, crossing J24 of the M1, you risk spending another 90 minutes trying to get the final 5 miles to the city along the eternally rubbish A453.
Alternatively, and always my favourite, is the much longer scenic route which takes you through Nottingham and up to J26 of M1, but over onto the A610 instead, to Eastwood and Codnor, then to the A6, which is where the fun really begins. Winding roads right through the Peaks, via Matlock Bath, Matlock, Rowsley, Bakewell and Buxton, before you head “over the top” on the A537 Cat & Fiddle Road, down to Macclesfield, through Knutsford, and back on the M6 for one junction to the M62 and home. I’ve travelled a lot around this country, and that road remains one of the most stunning drives you can do, even when it’s siling down. In fact, when you start climbing out of Buxton, leaving the world behind you, your jaw will actually drop as you wind around the road and see the vast expanse of those Pennines looming before you. And it’s somehow even more beautiful when the black clouds are circling, the shadows are descending on the purple fields, and the sky just seems to drop until it’s almost sandwiching you between it and the earth. Chuck in a few shafts of fading sunlight, spearing the clouds like tractor beams from a spaceship, and it’s a bit like driving through Middle Earth.
It’s desolate, sometimes eerie, but unforgettable. A shame, then, that this road (the A537), is known as ‘The Widowmaker’. For some reason, many drivers (and lots and lots of bikers), think that cruising through countryside means they’re also obliged to put their foot down and drive like twats. You do have to be vigilant, but they’ve now put loads of speed cameras along this route which, although it totally ruins the vista, has made people slow down. I don’t understand what the rush is, anyway. With views like this, it doesn’t make sense to waste them.
I lived in ‘The Shires’ for many years, so I always get a little wistful when I’m driving past the familiar little chocolate box cottages and sheep-filled green fields. I used to go walking, often, with The Olds, up hill, down dale, and always, always with at least two log-fire pubs en route in which to rest our weary feet and just sit and admire the view. I still hanker after just buggering off for a few days around Edale or Hathersage, tramping through the woods with my walking pole and woolly hat, maybe kidnap someone’s chocolate labrador for the weekend, in the hope I might come across some brooding lumberjack who is just waiting for… sorry, getting carried away…
If I were in any way able to afford to live in one of those exorbitantly priced little cottages, though, I would be the size of one, very quickly. Despite all the walks I could do from my doorstep, I’d be duty bound to spend just as much time warming the arl’ cockles by those roaring fires, downing a room-temperature bottle of Rioja while I wait for my gourmet gastro pub lunch to arrive. Every day.
I’m doing another detox week this week, then. Fruit and yoghurt all the way. I still haven’t been able to pull on those size 12 jeans I went hysterical over a few months ago – they’re still hanging up by my bed, taunting me with their slimness. But I’m determined to take them to Amsterdam with me in a month, for the UEFA Cup Final where, even if I’m thin enough to don the new denim, I certainly won’t be by the time it comes to catch the plane home. We have a raucous time planned, Marianne and I. Come on, Basel…
Another reason for hibernating this week, is that we play Chelsea on Sunday (again, come on Basel…!). I’m not going, but I shall be in the pub, as per, making sure the King Charles’s Smirnoff doesn’t go to waste. I could be strong, stay home, and just listen on the radio, for maximum excitement, but as I lack any kind of willpower whatsoever, it’s far easier – and way more fun – to just give in to the match day demon and let him seduce me. I know I will lose 4lbs before Sunday. I also know I shall gain 5lbs between Sunday night and Monday morning. Mad Dog 20/20, anyone?
Things I’ve Learned This Fortnight
1. I still can’t slow down
I think there are other things bothering me, which is making me lose a tiny bit of self-control when I go out. It’s not that I go wappy, or start fighting people when I’ve had a few. If anything, I’m just the same sober as when I’m drunk. I just never know when to stop drinking. I went into town with my friend James to watch the Reading match last week, and also to go the theatre, but ended up totally smashed all the same, and there was just no reason for it. Watch the match, have one or two drinks, go the theatre, have one or two drinks, eat something in between like a normal person, then go home. It’s easy, right? Wrong. That never, ever happens. I need to go to Sensible Drinking Nightclasses, or something. I’m surprised nowhere does them, they do everything else these days.
2. It’s good to reconnect
It was ace seeing so many old friends in Nottingham. It was a bit of a whirlwind and I’d like to spend longer next time, as it was more a flying visit (hours, really) than anything else. But nothing has changed, it’s still cosy, safe and an easy way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
3. Paprika rice cakes…yum.
Home Bargains, 69p a pack. ‘Moreish’ just doesn’t cover it. I thought I was being very healthy, stuffing them down my gob, thinking “well they’re just fresh air, really, I can eat as many as I like…”. But then the label said “50 calories per slice”, so two cakes is the same as one slice of bread. By the time I’d finished, I’d eaten the equivalent of two toasted cheese sandwiches. People ask me sometimes why I don’t believe in God. This is why…
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. The Match
Well, it’s not so much a dread, it’s just that I have no clue what the boys are going to do. We can destroy teams one week, then roll over the next. The only massive positive, is that we’re playing Chelsea, not Reading or Villa or any other team we should be battering for fun but don’t. At least with Chelsea, we will have to play. And, on that subject, am I the only one who hates with a passion that moronic Warrior slogan “We Come Not To Play” that’s plastered all around Anfield? I know it was Warrior’s marketing line way before we became attached to them, and it’s supposed to invoke all kinds of heroic machismo, but seriously,”We come not to play”? At a football club? Whose genius idea was that? Visiting teams are laughing at us. No wonder Villa spanked us 1-3. “We come not to play?” You’re not kidding. Sponsors or no sponsors, if the club don’t get rid of that rubbish before next season, I’m going to break in and do it myself.
Last Fortnight I Have Mostly Been Watching…
This is my friend, Lee’s, favourite part of this blog. “I love reading your blog…” he says, “…but when it comes to the bit about what you’re watching on telly, it’s all shit and I start to lose faith in humanity.” This, coming from a Trekkie.
Still watching this ‘shit’, Lee, even though they’re really dragging out the “will they won’t they?” arc of the two leads getting it together. Of course they will, otherwise there’s no point to it, but four seasons is asking a bit much. I’m still catching up, but they could have saved a whole season and just got to it. The stories of the week remain innovative and clever, but the joshing and buddy-buddy camaraderie stuff is wearing thin now. Just get on with it.
2. The Dead Zone
Every so often, I like to have a Walken-Fest. I adore him, even if he’s the same in everything he does. Some actors can own a screen without even saying anything, and he’s one of them. Love this film, love the man. In fact, I’m going to give him a bell and ask him to go and have a word with John Henry about those stupid hoardings. “John. We need. To Talk About. The Hoardings. They Gotta. Go. John.”
Again, they’re dragging this out a bit and it’s lost its freshness along the way. Hoping it’ll pick up again next week as we enter the UEFA Knockout Stages.
OK, haven’t actually watched any of this yet, but they’re all ready to go, and I have high hopes. But I can’t watch this before I’ve watched…
The Stats Bit:
Month 1: 8.75lbs
Month 2: 5.25lbs
Month 3: 1lb
Month 4: 0.5lbs
Month 5: 3lbs
Month 6: 1.5lbs
Month 7: 0lbs
Week 29-30: 1lbs
Week 31-32: plus 1lb
Total after 224 days: 20lbs