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OPINION - There's only one thing worse than people boring on about Dry Jan...

Keeping it literally and figuratively dry (Gabriel Gurrola)
Keeping it literally and figuratively dry (Gabriel Gurrola)

You know what? I’ve barely even noticed. I don’t miss it all. There’s actually so much stuff to do in the evening and at the weekend that doesn’t revolve around drinking. I went out for a meal and just drank water. I’ve been sleeping so well and getting up so early that I’m never tired and also have all of these extra hours in the day. Those Barry’s classes are just bouncing off me like bullets made of marzipan. The idea of a late-night McDonald’s makes me feel sick. Although not actually sick. Did I mention that I’m not feeling sick, or tired, at all, ever? Or that I just feel great all the time, forever?

It is January. And thus the dry January bores are out in easily-ridiculable force: puritanically striding towards the 31st, whereafter they will make zero permanent or significant long or short term life adjustments. An insufferable genre of person, obviously. But do you know who has become just-as-if not-more an insufferable genre of person? The people who sneer at their endeavours. The people who make it their business to loudly proclaim anyone who doesn’t drink themselves into a stupor every night of the first month of the year to be some kind of oblivious slave to the system.

In recent years it feels as though the people who bore on about how boring the dry January bores are have become just as (if not much more) boring. Why does drinking, and specifically drinking in London, have to be talked about so much? I am convinced that it is the endless banging on about whether or not we are currently drinking that makes all-year-round moderation in the capital a virtual impossibility.

Less than a month ago, I didn’t drink at a Christmas party. I didn’t go around proclaiming that I wasn’t drinking. I didn’t “need a break”. I just didn’t drink because I had something important to go to early the morning after and did not want to be even slightly hungover. No big deal. Yet the next day, I got texts from two of the attendees at said party asking if I “was OK?”: the assumption being that I must be depressed or going through some kind of major life upheaval of some kind.

It was this, plus the advent of both Dry January and people boringly abhoring Dry January, that made me decide that I am, in 2024, going to instead commit to a wellness practice that I have made up that definitely won’t become a thing but really should become a thing called ‘stealth kicking’. Premise: spend one week of every month of the year not drinking, but not talking about not drinking and instead going out and making out like one is drinking so as not to cause alarm.

So saying yes to a glass of wine at dinner which will, undetected, not be drunk or subsequently filled up. Buying drinks that look like an actual drink – tonic water – at the pub (which means buying the first round, but there you go). Clasping a stunt cocktail at a party while one flits from conversation to conversation to avoid detection. And there are only two rules. One: you are not allowed to stay in, ever. And two, if anyone rumbles you then you have failed. In this sense, I suppose, it is more a game than it is a wellness practice which is hugely preferable because drinking games are much more fun than wellness practices.

To make it to the end would mean a total of three months sober in a calendar year: the kind of stint about which Londoners – and especially those currently Dry January-ing Londoners – can only dream. It probably won’t work, but it is worth a try. Because in the meantime, if reading this means even just one participant in or vocal abstainer from Dry January stops boring on about Dry January then that will count as a success in my mind.