Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Highland trepidation

August bursts into colour with a pasta fucking salad. Three bags of fine beans had appeared from somewhere, probably Kenya, so I boiled one with the remains of a bag of pasta and tossed it all together with a can of tuna-in-oil, thin slices of red pepper the skin of which I had blackened and peeled off, a few capers, the last of some wilting watercress, lemon, seasoning and plenty of good olive oil. The temperature of the meal was questionable, being neither warm like a pasta dish nor cold like a salad. But despite its 70s credentials I thought it was delicious and, more importantly, it was one of those meals where you didn’t miss a bottle.
I am feeling vulnerable with respect to the bottle these days, nervous about going up North in a couple of weeks perhaps. It’s no exaggeration to say that nobody up there understands the concept of abstinence. If they do, it’s only in the context of a break between horrific benders that last months or, in some cases, years. I think I have started to falter due to a sense that nobody gives a shit. It’s not that I was ever aware of doing this for anyone, but perhaps I was hoping that it would impact those around me in ways that I could see and understand and therefore help fuel the whole head-banging exercise.
Certainly, the thought of me on our lovely wee family trip to the Outer Hebrides lugging a huge crate full of drink because I have to is not an attractive one, not so much because it will force me to face to the shear volume of alcohol that I was going to put down me just to get through the week (that kind of realization, for some dangerous reason, has never managed to get to me), but in the picture of loneliness it paints: my healthy, happy young family around me and me sat there, bloated and dulled and up to the eyeballs because I have no choice. And then having to get more in before the week’s out, beers and such like, not to mention the two or three pub visits dressed up as family lunches and the harrowing prospect of my visiting our temporary neighbour – an alky who I have been warned not to feed whisky of any type or form. Baggage, probably about a hundred quid’s worth, that I tell myself over and over again that I am better off without.

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