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

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'