How I became a person who doesn't drink
For a Gen-Xer who's drunk since their mid-teens, party season without alcohol is a daunting prospect
The Shift With Sam Baker is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I’ll say that again: somehow, I have become a person who doesn’t drink.
Nobody is more surprised by this statement than me. For most of my adult (plus a bit) life I was what you might call a “consistent” drinker. Like most Gen-Xers (or should that be British Gen-Xers?), I started drinking in pubs quite a while before I was legally allowed to. Pubs were where socialising done, after all, back in the ‘80s (the wellness dark ages). By the time I was a student, alcohol was embedded in my social life. I couldn’t envisage an evening out without drink and an evening in with my flatmates would invariably be accompanied by a bottle or two of the local offie’s finest* (*cheapest). As terms and funds dwindled, food would be sacrificed long before alcohol and I can still tell you the price of a half of 6X bitter in the local old man’s pub at the end of our street in Moseley, Birmingham in 1987 (37.5 pence since you’re asking, and yes, I do know how old that makes me).
It was a habit so fully enmeshed in my life by the time I moved to London and lucked into a job in medialand, I would no more have gone to a work do and not spent the night with an endlessly topped up glass in my hand than… well, I just wouldn’t have done it. Why would you work in an industry that seemed to specialise in free booze and nothing much to soak it up and not take advantage of it? That would just be madness. Also, given my annual starting salary was £7,500, and most of that went on rent and travel, it was cheaper than eating.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to drag you through every detail of my drinking life because that would be a) boring b) like reflecting yourself back at you c) both. This is just to demonstrate the inadvertent creation of a bad habit. Drinking too much, too often, was just another one of those things “you just did” back then.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Shift With Sam Baker to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.