One week without alcohol or coffee: A psychonaut’s cautionary tale

Warning: image contains spoilers

Day Eight.

Tuesday 12th June seems a world away. I’d been on a two day bender around the city; walking here and there; taking the odd photo; talking to people almost as much as I spoke to myself; and crawling in and out of pubs along the way. I woke up the next day fully dressed with all the lights still on, Bowie still stuck on his Berlin Trilogy and cold chips too close not to be breakfast. I clawed at recollection more smoke and dust than memory and came to the conclusion that it’d been fun; but what now? I need a dog, not another hangover.

So I decided to cut out booze for a bit. There have been periods in my life when I haven’t drank: the caravan in Holland; the homeless shelter in Melbourne; and the childhood period up until a schoolfriend gave me gin and I had to sit through a surreal and dangerous evening meal with my mother and stepfather; but I happen to like a drink and all to often, so do those around me.

“The blood of Christ,” and we take a sip? Fuck that you tease – it’s all or nothing.

Our doctors are being cheeky when they call alcohol a Depressant. They know that us poor plebs will link that word to Depression but it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Alcohol depresses neural activity, it sedates us and reduces our inhibitions, but to imply it Causes depression – thereby 100% of the time – is as unhelpful and misleading as, for example, saying cannabis makes you a dumb maniac.

Anyway, no more of that kind of talk, for now. I was expecting clarity if nothing but after a couple of days of thrilling old John Carpenter movies and the terrifying documentaries of Adam Curtis, an Atlantic storm appeared. The forecast was for three months rain in three days and I wondered if they meant the average summer or the average year; needless to say it was a dismal and unrelenting downpour. I popped a couple of vitamin D and completed Fallout: New Vegas. Banana and yoghurt for breakfast; noodles for lunch; soup or cous cous for dinner with oat cakes as a savoury treat. I was beginning to feel a tad despondent but in regards to any withdrawal, shakes or pain or blackouts I felt nothing.

Alcohol can be tested for at most 80 hours after ingestion. That point came and went and the prevailing feeling was one of boredom. Hoovering became a burst of endorphins if done quickly enough; getting all the long hairs out of the carpet was a challenge; organising my papers was like Raiders of the Lost Ark only slower and without the nazis.

I would have done all these things anyway but it’s just far less soul destroying for the highlight of your day to be sorting out your old t-shirts when you’ve got a mug of South African Zinfandel to complement.

I got round to watching Lars Von Trier’s newest and by God did he not dissapoint. Melancholia was a wonderful film, I won’t ruin it for those that haven’t seen it nor argue with other’s interpretation but it did make me think back to how, five years or so ago, I was glued to youtube watching videos about Nibiru and ‘learning’ about December 21st 2012.

Here we are: June; six months to go and no sign of the exo-planet that some say will herald a new age of awareness, or apocalypse. The guys that told me about the end of the world are all now raising children. What the hell?!

So I wandered some more; took a bus around town on an all day pass. Edinburgh can change so quickly – from opulence to slum in moments. Girls with pushchairs and their mothers clamber on, polite to a fault, and then we all get cut up by some fuck in a glistening 4×4. It’s wrong.

So many tourists, snapping away, you try but you can’t help but get in the way. Somewhere abroad, in a living room that smells of communism and dog flesh, there’ll be a family forced to endure this slide show; at the sight of the bad side of my face will they think me a yokel, a foreigner as dirty as themselves or just another idiot passing through? I wonder.

If I’m passing through then that’s an allegory for my entire life. Sometimes like a ghost, others like a truck through a red light outside a school.

By now I was eager for a coffee blacker than black, mildly sweet with a bit of cold water added so I could drink it within the next half hour without scalding my tongue and without my name written on the side of the cup so any rapist has an avenue.

I ate a tuna sandwich instead – washed down with water – and carried on. Sunday came around and I had the mind to go to church or try to join the navy. Life’s Purpose was getting itchy. I did feel a certain clarity, but then I wasn’t an alcoholic so of course it was easy. However, this week has made me realise that if my only circus is booze then that is a sad lot. I’ve had a brain spark, and we’ll see how that goes – I’m on a deadline for the Edinburgh Festival, and on my own terms.

There’s a book I would recommend; a fantastic journey through why we, as a species, are predisposed to altering our conciousness through any means available; but I lent it to my auntie and I think it went up when my cousin went loco and set half the house ablaze. For the life of me I can’t remember the author.

Well, that’s everything for now. It had been my plan, come Day Nine, to barricade myself in this room, “Revolution 9” by The Beatles played at maximum volume until someone with appropriate training came to help me; unfortunately I drank a beer on the royal mile and watched traffic and

Much love to you.

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