Harriet Walker: 'I understood with crashing clarity that I was old'

 

Share
Related Topics

When was the last time you had a weekend you would categorise as perfect? The definition changes with the seasons, or the personalities we put on with each phase of our existence.

But it goes along the lines of: something fun – exciting, even, let's not sell ourselves short – followed by something undeniably lovely; a burger, say, or a cuddle with a tiny dog.

Until recently, my perfect weekend would have been: drunk with friends, drunk with boyfriend, some eating in between, topped off with a spot of laundry, a box set and the sort of drink that feels amenable to the invariable winding down that must take place of a Sunday evening. A bottle of red wine, say.

I say until recently because something very odd has happened in the past few months. The glass of wine that might once have been the gateway drug to several bottles and a night doing improvised karaoke on public transport now means a banging headache and a lingering sense of unease. I've tried everything – drinking less, drinking more (the logic being that, if it doesn't even touch the sides, the sides won't complain the next day) – and nothing works. Nothing dulls the solemn ache of guilt and fear that drinking on a weeknight brings.

And drinking on a weekend seems to have swiftly followed suit. Yesterday I organised, over email, a night out with my drunkest friends. Clearly the terror had hit them, too. "I've realised I can't function when I drink," one said. "Which is a bore when you're an active alcoholic." "I'm not drinking in the week either," replied the other. "Christ."

In the end we decided we had to drink. "The good thing is," my friend reasoned, "if we are drinking, we won't get as drunk as if we weren't." The logic here is both incomprehensible and infallible.

Anyway, last weekend was perfect in my newly revised book – that is, The Book of the Bore. It incorporates the sort of meandering indecision and pointlessly allegorical unveilings of morality that characterises much medieval poetry, ending with a similar showdown against a metaphorical dragon, either in valour or public humiliation.

The perfect storm of a weekend, I thought, had brewed: drunk with colleagues (Friday night); drinks with extended family (Saturday afternoon); sofa time (Saturday dusk); drinks with friends; drunk with friends (Saturday; Saturday); and then Sunday. The sort of Sunday where all you really do is watch The World at War and tell yourself that life could be much, much harder. Like, blackout hard.

But I realised steadily, as Sunday night drew in and I still felt sick from the night before – in the way that truth dawns upon someone who has been lied to for a long time – that the part of the weekend I had enjoyed the most was the minority window I had spent lying on the sofa with the heating on full-blast, reading the papers and various magazines. It was akin to the moment of realisation I had a few months back that an avocado can be so much more than merely a vehicle for vinaigrette. With this double realisation of how comfortable I was (both literally and metaphorically), I understood with crashing clarity that I was old. The following three days were spent researching Retinol online.

At first I was very worried. But then I felt grateful. Grateful that my transition from the days of dancing on tables to those of sitting comfortably with an orthopaedic cushion had not been too stark. Indeed, it had crept up on me without my even noticing. It was like gentle hair loss: reaching and finding there was less there than before, rather than going to fluff my quiff and discovering I was bald.

So I plan weekends now with a sense of foreboding, fighting the temptation to neck a bottle of Baileys on my own in front of Strictly just because, and with the knowledge that Sunday could be spent "doing a walk" on the Heath, or strolling round a gallery.

That fight really hit home on holiday earlier this month, when days were spent looking at historical European art and nights were washed away in beer. It's easier to marry the two in Berlin, where it's totally acceptable to get up at midday, eat sausages for every meal and not have a job.

So it's up to me to make this work at home. We'll see how it works with my drunk friends (prediction: messy) and with my more sensible friends. It depends, I think, on how comfortable I am being the only person drinking during daylight hours when no one else is. What it might end in, I think, is me fast asleep on the sofa before the bell has even tolled 7pm.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone