I will play with this idea as something to add to my new book which is beginning to take definite shape.
I went to the Diwali celebrations in Trafalgar Square this Sunday and one of the many great things I tried was meditation. Although it was busy and so I had to stand up the exercises we were taken through really made me relax. We were also told to concentrate on the toxins being expelled through our breathing. As I followed what I had been told it struck me what a great way this would be to help quit alcohol. As I concentrated I could really imagine the toxins leaving my body and the cells being blissfully refreshed. I know if I had been expelling alcohol based toxins I would have been loathe to then load my body up with more.
I will play with this idea as something to add to my new book which is beginning to take definite shape.
This afternoon I have to give a presentation to an organisation. This involves talking for about one and a half hours to a very set script but without the use of any prompts, and so all from memory. The words are quite ancient and complex so it has been a struggle to memorise them. Not having trained for this as an actor or suchlike, there is absolutely no way I would have been capable of this when I was still drinking. I know I wouldn't have been able to even focus enough time let alone commit them to a memory that used to leak like a sieve. What a difference when you have a sober life. Yes I am nervous, but with my motto 'Think Army', I know I will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
For those of you doing soberoctober (Stoptober) and already feeling the pressure, here is a tip I used:
Make a list of what you are going to treat yourself to with all the money you will have saved by not drinking alcohol, and then book them up or order them NOW! This will give you something positive to look forward to and act as an incentive. The fact that you are paying up front should also give you a strong guilt feeling should you be tempted to drink and have the treat anyway.
If you still struggle, my book ‘One Less for the Road’ can help encourage you to quit, and if you want to try quitting forever, try my book ‘I Don’t Drink.’
Good Luck, well done already for trying, and have a great month!
For all of you who have decided to try Sober October you will naturally want to avoid temptation. If you decide to spend some of that lovely money you will be saving on new clothes, beware of what lurks by the till! I saw these whilst shopping with my wife today. Is there no escape I wonder?
Quite by chance, seeing this fantastic engine in full steam at Victoria station the other night reminded me of wonderful boyhood adventures from way before the days I drank. I thought I would share part of this story with you from my book ‘The 7.52 to London Bridge’.
Next door used to live a train driver, and sure enough the curious neighbour peering over the fence turned out to be no other than the son of said driver. I remembered his father because he was a driver of the famous ‘Master Cutler’ express train from London to Sheffield which went past the house at a million miles an hour. To me he was the driver of the fastest steam train ever which at the time was the ‘Mallard’, and as a treat at Christmas he would take us down to the huge engine sheds by the canal. We had to get up before dawn for this treat. The stone hot water bottles Nana always put in our beds were still warm from the night before and we would pull on as many layers of clothes as we could find before meeting up at the front of the house as planned. There, our magical driver would lead us in a little train of boys like the pied piper, following his oil lamp down to the engine sheds where at that time of the morning, monsters lived.
There would be at least twenty locomotives being got into steam for the day ahead; black leviathans with red fiery bellies, gushing smoke from their funnels and steam from their shiny wheels and pistons. We had to be careful how we crossed the tracks, quite steep for small feet and little legs and thick with oil, tar, coal, and black ooze. Despite the cold and the wind blowing sleet into your face, the occasional waft of heat from an engine would warm you to the marrow and send a thrilling shiver through your small frame. The noise was all around and the fantastic never to be forgotten smells all pervading. Once I remember being right by the side of a track and seeing a ghostly mist approach soundlessly towards me, only to become a small shunter engine pulling some coal trucks, towering monstrously over me but too slow and too quiet to make an impression against the wider cacophony of its larger sister engines. It was like something out of a fairytale.
Then our magical driver would lift us into the cab of his enormous black locomotive where the fireman would already be undressed to his shirt and sweating profusely as he shovelled endless amounts of coal from the tender into the gaping jaws of the giant furnace. Then the shovelling would stop, we would all crouch down and the fireman would put his shovel upside down into the fire to heat it up so it glowed a deep winter sunset red. Then on the back of the black shovel he would put on some streaky bacon and crack open some eggs, and within seconds we would tuck into the most fantastic breakfast imaginable. Sitting inside a warm and cosy engine cab, knowing we shouldn’t by rights be there and knowing we had to hide in the tender if the driver’s boss (the Fat Controller) should come along (he never did), looking out at the Sun coming slowly up over a snowy winter horizon, listening to the engine come alive as the brass gauges moved towards full steam, smelling that wonderful hot breakfast smell coupled with all the engine smells and the cold piercing winter smell, being with your little pals on a Christmas morn - massive ear to ear smiles on our faces dimpling our cheeks; and looking back at it, because we were such little boys - without a single care in the World. And on top of all that, when we got home the family would only just be stirring, we had already had the most fantastic adventure imaginable, and it was Christmas!
Perhaps it’s because I no longer drink I get nostalgic for those times before I discovered alcohol and when life was so innocent. Perhaps I look back with sorrow on a life so much of which was wasted because of drink. But at least I suppose I can now look forward, knowing I will never waste a single day ever again.
I had an amazing day on Friday which started with a balloon flight over Sussex courtesy of my eldest daughter for my 60th birthday.
It was when we were at 3000 feet that I overheard the man next to me talking to his wife about the celebratory glass of champagne that would be waiting for us upon landing. He was really looking forward to his despite it only being 9.00 a.m. and I realised that naturally I hadn’t given the drink any thought at all.
It made me reflect back to what I would have been like when I was still drinking. I know I would have been thinking about that champagne as much as the flight itself. I would have been concerned that it would only be one glass. I would have worried that others would get more than me. I would have probably brought some of my own so I could have more than that one glass. I would have worried that we would have to wait for the champagne until we were back at the launch site instead as soon as we landed. I would even have been wishing we could have it to drink whilst we were aloft. In fact, the bloody champagne and the thought of the champagne would have ruined the whole experience for me just by being dangled as a temptation.
What a relief it is to be free of all that and to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this magical experience purely for what it was and not for what it could be. A truly wonderful experience and the silence and freedom of gently floated with the clouds is something I will always treasure.
That evening my wife and I attended a talk at the British Museum given by a Buddhist nun. She was a French lady who had turned her back on a promising career and married life to find the ‘something missing’ in her life some forty years ago when she was in her thirties. She talked about the freedom she now felt having turned her back on the trappings of her previous existence, how the voice in her head that had provided so much anguish had been quelled, and that she now felt she had a purpose in life. Quite dramatic really, and no one dared ask her what had happened to her husband.
As she spoke and we then meditated (she made the whole audience meditate for a while which was a novel experience), I thought of the direct parallel between the freedom she had found and the freedom I have found having quit drinking. It really is like having found a new purpose in life, a reason to explore myself on a level I have never thought to do so before, and all that without the trappings of a drug cluttering my mind with irrelevant cravings and desires, all of which are completely without foundation and benefit.
Life is far too short and precious to have it ruined by alcohol. I really do wish I had never started drinking all those years ago. At least I have finally escaped and I really do feel as free from alcohol as the freedom I felt in the balloon that morning. Drink is the only thing I will be turning my back on however.
To understand fully why you need to be firm about quitting alcohol and not listen to spurious drivel from other drinkers watch this episode from BBC TV yesterday. The extract can be found by joining the facebook group Club Soda Together which is extremely worthwhile in any event.
The old guy on the left is telling us that a half bottle of wine a day is really good for us and there is another young lady who believes you can't possibly celebrate anything without drink being involved. Thankfully Laura from Club Soda and an Indian chap put an alternative and well structured view across.
My bottom line statement on it is that had I met and listened to the 'wisdom' of the old fool five years ago, I would now be dead!
This year I am spending some of the many thousands I have saved through not drinking on a holiday to India. In mapping out my itinerary I have planned to spend new-year’s eve in the historic town of Hampi. Hampi is a World Heritage site and one of the holiest sites for Hindus. I thought that watching the sunset over the ancient ruins would be a magical way to say thank you to 2017 and to welcome in 2018, and a setting to stir some deep thoughts.
When my Indian agent queried my plans on the basis that alcohol is banned in Hampi, and was I sure I wanted to spend New Year in an alcohol-free zone, I was quite taken back. It simply hadn’t occurred to me, which shows that alcohol really is of no consideration to me whatsoever. What a huge difference from the New Year’s of my past where drink and getting smashed was the main focus and driving concern. Hopefully you can imagine a future time when you too will be so free from booze that it doesn’t even feature in your thought processes.
Just finished the first UK Open Water Swimathon at Royal Victoria Docks which was amazing. I also got the chance to meet and swim with that great man Duncan Goodhew who inspired me to do the Swimathon over twenty years ago which I did to help me stop smoking. Duncan is the same age as me and also used to swim in Beckenham so I expect we were in the same local pool as kids - he just went on to find fame whilst I found cider instead. Now at least we were able to share the same swimming event. What would you rather be doing on a Sunday morning? Achieving something amazing and having great fun or laying in bed with a hangover and dreading the day ahead.
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