My daughter sat me down over Christmas, when I had tonsillitis and was feeling weak, most unfair and she impressed upon me that I drink too much. I know, I know. I gave her all the explanations I could think of but it was no use. She was right. So I came home with the promise that I would cut down to half a bottle at night with a meal.
I'm sorry if this sounds pathetic. Don't read on if you are thinking 'what a stupid person'. On the plus side I thought it was my only addiction which is good because I have that sort of personality, unfortunate but true. I do everything I do to the nth degree. Very boring for other people, very boring for me as well but it's the way it goes.
I had antibiotics and didn't drink because I was quite ill before Christmas and that really would be stupid and then I thought, for God's sake, how ridiculous the whole thing is to let anything dictate your life to you but I can't bear the evenings. My dreadful empty evenings which I fill with work and food and wine. I know, I know, they say you should get out but my boredom threshold, part of my stupid depression, holds me in it so there are few things I can bear in the evenings. Every other time of day is manageable, evenings, forget it.
So there I am now, with my half bottle of wine stretching out until I go to bed and once there I can listen to stories and I like my bed, I'm happy there. The only thing now is I have much more energy in the mornings. Oh my God, I have turned into Tigger. I used to be Tigger quite a lot but life has ground me down. Here he comes again. Boing!! Boing!! Boing!! Like bouncing on a mattress.
I get up and work at seven am, leaping out of bed to make tea first, I make soup at eight, I hit the shops at nine and boy, do I hit the shops. Yesterday I had to prise myself away from one of those cheese things that have mesh so that you can see the different kinds. This week I have bought sufficient groceries to keep an army going. I have rejected four different kinds of slipper boots which I do not need. I have bought pyjama tops and pyjama bottoms - not matching, that's too easy. I have been to Sainsbury's as they opened and rifled through the sales there and I went to Next and bought a gorgeous new top in lots of different colours. I went to Wallis and Top Shop and Warehouse and then I went to Boots. I went to Marks and Spencer's twice and bought some very expensive make up. I bought six avocados at Tesco and special peppercorn sauce for my steak one night and my pork chop the next.
In Sainsbury's I kept the lovely young man who runs the fish bit of it in conversation for ten minutes - he had nothing else to do and was obviously impressed by my devotion to bream and sardines and trout, all fresh and all on special offer. I went home and finished off my already teaming freezer. I can get nothing more in there now, nor can I find anything. I don't even like fish!
I looked at shelf after shelf of wine because now that I am drinking less I am more discerning. If it's two glasses a night by God, it had better be good.
This is not a new year thing, I must say. I don't do new year things. I love food and drink. Giving up anything in January is nauseating so it isn't that kind of cutting down. My daughter wants me to live forever. I have tried to impress upon her that this is unlikely at best when my friends are being mown down by cancer all around me. I have already been wrecked by widowhood, being orphaned, had breast cancer, depression and swept aside my stupid family and most of the friends I liked very much but somehow couldn't manage. I am ruthless that way but it's survival.
Today is Saturday and I have a plan. After breakfast, after making curried parsnip soup, I am going to Paperchase where the notebooks and the pens are on special offer, at least I hope they still are. I'm not walking into town, still a bit weak from blessed tonsillitis but I will take the car and wander the shops and wonder what else I can buy. I have rejected house buying, thankfully, I have a car and two new computers. My garden has a new fence and my house a new coat of paint and my kitchen is less than two years old. I have walls covered in paintings and a wardrobe as big as John Lewis. I have bought furniture and tea towels. There are so many books in my caravan that the shelves are full. I have wonderful jewellery which my precious daughter buys me. Is there anything else?
Well, breakfast beckons now, soup has to be made and the shops are open. Can I get you anything while I'm there? I know where everything is. You will recognise me. I'm the strange striped tiger rushing up and down the aisles, greeting everybody, smiling hugely, enthusiastic.
There is a lovely scene in the West Wing, one of my best ever favourite programmes, where the lovely president says to his sidekick something like, thinking of the economy, 'Would two weeks in the Caribbean have hurt you that much?' That's me, keeping the economy going single handedly. It's my duty to the country, getting and spending. Am I laying waste my hours? Should I be planning ahead? Or shall I just saunter into Paperchase and find all those notebooks. It's cheaper than cocaine, is shopping, it's better for you than smoking. It doesn't rot your liver like drinking and it doesn't expand your waistline like eating. So am I hoping for the best. See you in M&S.