The last week of Dry January has been an easy one for me – very few opportunities or temptations as Mr RockstarDinosaurPirate and I are moving into a little flat he’s just bought – he’s on the first rung of a very expensive property ladder. Therefore this week has featured mainly planning, packing, and occasionally camping out in the flat enjoying the empty space before it’s taken over by all of our possessions (we have so much stuff. Oh god. So. Much. Stuff.) The activity and minor stress of the week has left little space for drinking, and I haven’t wanted one.
Mr RDP completed in the week that it was revealed that the average house price in Hackney, where I lived happily for years before moving in with Mr RDP and where I work, is HALF A MILLION. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hackney, I think it’s great, but HALF A MILLION? House prices are high across the country, but in London they are insane. BabySisterDinosaur (my half sister is in her mid twenties and she’ll be my baby sister for ever. Even when she’s sixty and I’m seventymumble.) has also recently bought a flat, but in North Devon. The comparison size for size, cost for cost, finish for finish from her place to Mr RDP’s place is not favourable. By comparison, hers is a sprawling perfect palace at a teeny price. Not, of course, if you factor in wage difference etc etc, but it’s hard not to make that comparison.
Daddy RockstarDinosaurPirate and The Wicked Stepmother (a long used and utterly inaccurate nickname for her, for she is not at all wicked, and is in fact completely lovely) came to visit this weekend Daddy Dinosaur is a builder by trade, and he spent several hours happily knocking on internal walls, poking things, making ‘humph’ and ‘tch’ noises, scrambling around in the loft (to my alarm; he’s 60 and needs an artificial hip) and drawing on the walls. They also live in North Devon, and were shocked at the comparison to BabySisterDinosaur’s flat. I had a copy of a local paper and showed them some of the other properties that are going in our area, where prices have risen about 20% in the last 6 months (partially due to Hackney becoming so unaffordable). You would naturally expect prices in London to be more, and living here I guess I get a little desensitised to it. Seeing the folks’ reaction to it from the perspective of outsiders really brought it into focus. Especially when Dad started pointing out all the things in the flat that needed doing up, fixing, changing and improving and how much these things might cost.
Due to excellent planning, entirely typical of the RockstarDinosaurPirate household, Mr RDP is away for the weekend with some old schoolfriends, back late tonight, with the removal van arriving tomorrow. While ‘camping’ at the new place, we discovered that there was a gas leak. This resulted in me camping at the new place on my own for most of the weekend while gas men make ‘tch’ noises at the boiler (illegal) and the pipework (nonsensical). The costs of buying the place itself was bad enough, but all the ‘tch’ noises I’ve heard this weekend seem to add up to lots of ££££. I have been astounded at all the things a survey *doesn’t* bring up.
I suspect that if I wasn’t on my non drinking trip, while camping I would have got myself a bottle of wine or some boozy ginger beers, thinking that they’d cheer me up and make the weekend more fun and bearable – but in the cold light of sobriety it’s clear that actually they would have made me less able to cope with the ‘tch’ news and the early mornings and the bad news. The clarity brought by lack of booze-fog has made being a Practical Grownup so much easier.
Ok, so perhaps being in my pyjamas on a Saturday night by 6pm and watching Miss Marple isn’t the most rock and roll ways to spend a Saturday night, but I didn’t feel sad, or anxious, or lonely. BabySisterDinosaur even commented on my FB this week that “You’re so happy all the time when you don’t drink!”. I made a joke about it on the time, but have been thinking about that comment a lot – have I? Has it been easier to cope with stress and ‘tch’ when you just have to get on and COPE, and not go fuck it, I’ll have a glass of wine to chill out? This is something I’ll have to think about as the months go by. I have had problems in the past with anxiety and depression, and there are clear links between mental health issues and alcohol. I’d never even considered in the early days of my non-drinking experiment that a side effect could be improved mental happiness. I’d been more worried about people thinking I am boring, not going out as I wouldn’t know what to say or how to have fun, and getting more depressed. But perhaps the opposite is true.
Judging by the about of ‘tching’ I can hear from the gas men in the kitchen right now, I am going to be glad I am not spending money on booze as much of it might be needed to go into this flat, and glad of increased resilience over the next few months.