I started drinking at college. Then, as a career girl, I convinced myself that “work hard, play hard” was the way forward. Marriage to a fellow “bon viveur” meant that a bottle of Jack Daniels and some decent wine was always included in the “Saturday Shop”. Dinner parties with friends would often go on until 3 am. The only time I stopped was for nine months when pregnant. I remember being thoroughly bored at parties and dinners and longing for the day when I could drink again.
In my forties, I got divorced and remarried. Husband number two (who is French) was not impressed by Brits drinking their heads off so I tried to tone it down a bit. Not easy. He genuinely could not understand why I couldn’t stop after a couple of drinks (like he did) but it was just not possible for me. I didn’t mind the hangovers (a price worth paying for a good night out?) but what I hated was the memory loss. Is there anything worse than not knowing what you did or said the night before?
At the age of fifty-five, I got breast cancer. Mastectomy, chemo, and radiotherapy followed. The latest research suggests that there was probably a link between my alcohol consumption and cancer although I was strongly in denial at the time. Not an easy journey but I got through it. Now am eight years cancer-free – yay!
In 2003 we relocated from London to Cape Town. For ten years I ran my own business which was huge fun but involved plenty of traveling, staying in hotels, etc – always a reason to reward hard work with drinks all round!
I have now sold my business and am doing pro-bono work so a lot of the pressure is gone. We make the most of Cape Town’s fabulous restaurants and are always out for lunch, dinner, cocktails, etc. I was always trying to “cut down” to the elusive “fourteen units a week” but usually notched these up after just a few days.
After one particularly hectic week of partying, I decided to “STOP DRINKING ALTOGETHER!” as I was feeling distinctly queasy and starting to worry about my liver.
That was just 100 days ago!