Wonderful World (but not for our neighbours)

Last weekend, I experienced two events which confirmed I am definitely beating my booze problem. After feeding the baby, I left her in bed with her Dad (he was delighted to be woken at 6.30am by his Lycra-clad missus) and departed with the dog for a run in the park. Although I am no longer considered to be postpartum by the medical profession (apparently six to eight weeks is when you have to ditch that excuse), it is still necessary in my opinion not to rush things on the exercise front. Thus, my route is approximately two miles long and, for the most part, flat as a pancake.

The sun was shining, and all was well with the world as I ran alongside a large duck pond, the dog unusually well-behaved at my side. My gaze fell on the resident heron which is often seen stalking the shallows of the pond, his beady eyes scanning the water for fish, and I felt a surge of happiness for, well, being alive I guess. Not a soul was in sight, other than me, the dog, the heron and a few ducks quacking in the shady far reaches of the little lake. Oh, and Craig, the homeless man who has been residing in the park for about ten years and who last week in the pouring rain, wolf-whistled me as I ran past him, slumbering in his sleeping bag and clutching an oversized bottle of strong cider (I must confess that despite the alcohol-addled mind of the whistler, I was pretty chuffed to receive this approval so soon after giving birth).

And so there I was, stopping just short of singing a quick rendition of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ as I jogged on through the sunshine, and it occurred to me that I would never have felt such happiness if I was still pouring the wine down my neck each night. An alternative universe would have found me lying in bed groaning quietly at the size of my headache, with a sandpaper tongue and skin like a desiccated lizard. Score one point to me, nil points to the sauce.

Eighteen hours later and I was sharply awoken by the sound of thundering footsteps coming through the wall which divides our bedroom and that of our argument-prone neighbours. There followed the most horrendous, violent exchange, the majority of which came from the very drunken mouth of the male. For the next two hours we lay quietly in bed, as the row escalated to include death threats and a number of ambiguous thumping sounds. This couple have two children, who I pictured cowering in their beds with pillows clamped over their heads, desperately attempting to drown out the sound of their parents hating each other.

People argue for many reasons, but a sure fire way to boost an argument from a minor disagreement to an out-of-control orgy of violence, is to add alcohol into the equation. The level of destruction that our neighbours subject themselves and those around them to as a result of drinking too much, is unimaginable. When I drank regularly, I found myself involved on numerous occasions in arguments, some violent, all of them loud and utterly unnecessary. Booze made me pig-headed, narcissistic and angry – a terrible combination. Without alcohol in my life I very rarely have disagreements, and when I do I am (usually) in control of my anger. Listening to our neighbours wage war on each other and causing untold harm to their children served to remind me once again why I am better sober. Much better. Score two points to me, nil points to the sauce.


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