Staring Down Memory Lane

I was loading my car boot up with shopping outside Tesco today when I heard someone call my name. When I looked up, I saw the friend of an ex-boyfriend, the ex being in my life at the very height of my heavy drinking escapades. The friend is lovely. In fact, so much so that I had a bit of a ‘thing’ for him when I was with my ex. Nothing ever came of it, but I always had a soft spot for him. In the car park, we kissed (on the cheek) and chatted about our respective children who both go to the same nursery, and about what each of us was up to in our lives, and about how manic things were this week, what with nursery being closed at the moment for an annual holiday.

And then we went off in opposite directions.


Years ago, when I was going out with the aforementioned ex, I was drinking at ridiculous levels. I was out of control, consumed by addiction and totally in denial. I met my ex in a pub one night, naturally, and I was drunk. Flirting with him, sending him suggestive glances across the bar, determined to make him notice me. Which he did, and we immediately became an item. In between the drinking, we had a few nice times – holidays here and there, walks in the Peak District. But always, like an ever-present storm brewing, there was the alcohol. And when I drank, all hell would break loose.

We went to a party one evening, and apart from the first couple of hours, the entire night is a blind spot in my memory: nothing, blank, a vacuum. I know that I abandoned my ex at the house at some point and disappeared with another man, returning in the early hours to find the party all over and my boyfriend sitting on the steps outside with his head in his hands and a weary expression on his face. Other than that, I have no clue as to what happened. I do know that my ex’s friend was there and I remember chatting to him in the kitchen early on. And because I know I fancied him a bit, I don’t like to dwell too much on what I said or how I acted. I’m sure it was loaded with connotation. At best.

The friend witnessed me on several other occasions during my relationship with that ex-boyfriend, extremely drunk, out of control, crying, flirting, and dangerous, unhappy, wild, reckless. I always thought he must hate me. I hated me. And I thought he was nice so I couldn’t imagine that he would have held me in very high regard. In the years that followed me splitting up with my ex, I broke out in a cold sweat whenever I saw him or any of his friends, knowing only too well that I had made a fool out of myself so frequently in front of them all.

So today, when I was talking to the ex’s friend in Tesco’s car park, I was struck by the normality of the situation. We were just two people catching up, both parents of young children, grabbing a bit of food shopping at the supermarket; in between chores, not hungover, not ashamed, not flirting – just normal human beings, being friendly.

When I left, I thought about that night at the party all those years ago and wondered if I’d acted inappropriately with him. What had I said? How had I looked at him? Did anything bad happen?

And I felt so happy and at peace with myself because I don’t do any of that anymore.

2015 – The Year of the Soberista

I think we live in a topsy-turvy world, where it is seen as more normal to want to drink yourself into oblivion than it is to lead a healthy, alcohol-free life in which you are in control of your body and mind. On a daily basis, we are surrounded by messages of endorsement for a seriously mind-altering substance – one that is responsible for the deaths of 3.3 million people worldwide every year. We are bombarded by a collective validation for this addictive drug, the consumption of which is a causal factor in more than two hundred disease and injury conditions.


And bizarrely, we often find that when we choose to opt out of the merry-go-round of alcohol misuse, we are considered to be boring, ill or someone to pity. It is not always the case, of course, but there exists a great deal of stigma and hypocrisy when it comes to the way people in the West approach the issue of drinking and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, sobriety.

Until I ended up in hospital because of the amount of booze I consumed one night in April 2011, I lived a life that I would describe as one of a binge drinker. On many occasions I despised myself because of something I had said or done when under the influence; there were too many times when I lay alone in the dark considering suicide as a result of the depressive effects of alcohol. But I never regarded myself as someone to feel sorry for – I wasn’t a victim. I was simply unaware that my life would be vastly improved if I omitted alcohol from it. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees – there was no clarity, no understanding that I was, in reality, creating all of the problems in my life because I got drunk so frequently.

I firmly believe in an alcohol-free life now. It’s a way of being that has brought me nothing but positives, and one that has simultaneously eradicated much of the crap that dragged me down so relentlessly for years. I remember a boy at my secondary school who used to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Drinking won’t solve my problems. But it will give me lots of interesting new ones’. Oh the wit! That carefree and innocent perspective of this substance that most people share in their teens was one that I most definitely held – although one that very gradually became replaced with a great deal of wariness and, eventually, fear.

Many people will remain forever in denial that they actually have a problem with alcohol. For every regret-filled morning when with head throbbing, promises will be made to never drink again, there will be an untold number of nights of throwing caution to the wind and an abject refusal to accept that it is not really ok to be drinking to the point of blacking out. And on and on the negative cycle will turn, never to be broken.

But equally, many people are, I believe, now beginning to question this alcohol-fuelled existence as normal. They are pondering whether life without hangovers and booze-induced problems in their relationships and at work might be better, easier. I believe there is a wave building, a revolt against the mass acceptance we have all grown up with, of binge drinking and its place in society as an inherent element of everyday life.


Christmas and New Year’s Eve are times of the year when alcohol features even more prominently than usual – it can feel isolating and challenging to be a non-drinker in the midst of such widespread festive applause for booze. But there are far more people than many would imagine who are happily getting on with things minus any alcohol, and who aren’t missing it that much, if at all. I am one of those people. I couldn’t be happier than right now, free from the shackles that held me prisoner for so long and which turned me into someone I wasn’t – a loud, overbearing and self-centred person with a shallow existence and a multitude of regrets keeping me awake at night.

The more people who continue to turn their backs on booze, the more normal the teetotaller will become. I hope that in 2015 we will witness a big increase in the number of non-drinkers proudly emerging, and that as an expanding group in society we can make the case heard even louder for a life that’s lived in control, healthily and happily.

Happy New Year! Lucy x

Happy New Year!

I am not the party animal that I was in my youth. Long gone are the days when I would buy a ticket in October for an all-nighter New Year’s bash, costing around £50, only to get completely out of it by about 11pm, thus never being able to recall whether or not I had actually enjoyed the night or not. I remember a few New Year’s house parties which started out as brilliant occasions, full of friends, fun and lots of alcohol, but all ended in some disaster or other (one springs to mind immediately, when me and a friend shaved off a male guest’s fairly long hair at about 3 am (with his consent, I add), only to show his new look off to his wife who proceeded to have a fit of the histrionics, accusing us of making her husband look as though he were in receipt of chemotherapy. The whole party then joined in the slanging match for a good couple of hours, before everyone staggered home in the early morning light to sleep it off. The husband wore a hat constantly for the next couple of months). wine

The first New Year’s Eve do that I went to as a drinker, aged somewhere in my mid-teens, I became the ‘girl who cries at parties.’ I have absolutely no idea as to what I was crying about, but do remember heaving over the toilet bowl for a while before finding some kind bloke who put his arm round me and attempted to force strong, black coffee down my throat. I remember nothing else. After sleeping it off, I awoke in the morning to find that I had inadvertently become the talk of the party, a strange girl (I had been invited by the two sisters who hosted the bash, but knew no one else there) who had spent hours on end gasping and dripping snot all over the shoulder of their mate who had kind of missed the party because of me. Apparently prior to that, I had also thrown a beer over some other bloke’s head who tried to snog me under the mistletoe, but whose advances were not, it would seem, particularly sought after.

It will probably come as no surprise to you then, when I tell you that I haven’t bought a hot ticket for a posh do somewhere in town tomorrow night, but am instead staying at home with my girls. This is not because I no longer wish to socialise now that I no longer drink alcohol, but because from experience I know that most people (read, people who drink) view NY Eve as an occasion which warrants getting lashed, and I do hate being around people who are hammered.

So, in continuation of our little routine that we followed last year, my eldest daughter (almost 14 and therefore this could potentially be the last New Year’s Eve that she wishes to spend with her old Mum) and me will be baking Nigella Lawson’s chocolate orange cake, which is heaven on a plate, and intended to serve about ten but easily polished off by two greedy girls enjoying their own private NY party. As that culinary delight bakes in the oven, we will get stuck into a load of beauty treatments; manicures, pedicures, facials and cucumber slices on our eyes and laugh at some really awful celeb magazines. And then, cake semi-cooled but warm enough to still feature its pièce de résistance, the molten, gooey, utterly delectable chocolate orange centre, we will stick Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on the TV and stuff our faces – marvelous.

This little party of ours also has the advantage of allowing for a meaningful New Year’s Day, rather than one spent, as I have done frequently in the past, with the mother of all hangovers, periodically throwing up and lying in a darkened room wishing that the train would stop running over my brain. I love the sentiment of the first day of a new year, a whole fresh 365 days, plain and untainted, free to do with whatever you choose, and so I value being with it sufficiently to enjoy it.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a great night, and a fantastic 2013.

Play the movie to the end…

I have a guest blog on MindBodyGreen today – if you want to have a read, then please follow this link;

I wrote this piece as a ‘How to’ guide for anybody who is heading towards Thanksgiving and/or Christmas with a slight degree of trepidation, owing to the booze monster lurking in the shadows of all those festive events…

The MindBodyGreen feature is for people who, like me prior to giving up the sauce, know in the pit of their stomachs that they have a bit of a problem with booze. You just know, don’t you? And it isn’t a nice feeling.  

If you are still hankering after one more night on the lash and you think maybe this time it will be different; you won’t end up falling all over the place, arguing with your loved one and embarrassing yourself, this time you will do it right and in control, then TAKE NOTE – don’t kid yourself! Play the movie to the end! It always goes the same way. 

Me a few years ago, at the start of a very boozy night – which ended badly, as always. It took a while to learn but I got here eventually!

Why not decide, this holiday season, to not repeat those same, horrible nights, over and over like a recurring nightmare? Why not do it a bit differently and see if you feel better about yourself? If you do decide to ditch the booze this year, then I hope the MBG article  helps. Please let me know your thoughts on the booze/festive season equation at when we launch on November 26th, just 10 days away!