My post today is very different. I had a choice of subjects that I wanted to write about, however the following subject grabbed me by the throat & refused to be silenced, so here goes ……….
For the umpteenth time recently, I’m sitting in a pub just a few doors away from my home, simply because I have absolutely no energy to cook myself a meal, so am eating here. I had my day mapped out. I intended to do some housework,a little weeding in the communal garden, clean my goldfish tank & catch up with paperwork, as well as making myself a healthy meal. Things went awry after a friend called & suggested that we go out for a walk as it was such a glorious day. Although I’ve been struggling to stay on my feet as they are dreadfully painful, I decided to ignore the pain & take in the sights & smells of the Jewel in Wells’ crown – the Bishops Palace gardens. It is a fabulous place. I was fortunate enough to be given a membership for my birthday, so am able to visit freely, but typically I don’t go often enough. Today however, I forced myself & am so glad that I did. As my friend is elderly, he was happy to walk slowly, so we strolled around in the sunshine, sitting when needed, enjoyed a cup of tea overlooking the croquet lawn & had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Walking back towards home was less fun, as I was beginning to doubt if I could make it home & of course then I would need to make myself a meal. With the pub in sight, I decided to rest awhile & eat in the hostelry.
As today is part of the bank holiday weekend, as well as such a glorious day, the place was heaving!
I pop in sometimes for a cup of tea, especially if I need a breather before I get home. Usually, because I avoid evenings, it tends to be fairly quiet, but today the noise was at a very high volume. The doors into the garden/ smoking area were open, so there was a cool breeze, which was lovely. I sat by the open door, enjoying the fresh air ( well, tobacco enhanced, but air never the less.)
After ordering my meal, I returned to my table, clutching a diet cola, which is an occasional treat & did as I usually do – I took out my notebook & began to write. Although I have plenty of subjects on he go, I like to use cafes / pubs as a space for observational writing. Noticing the people around me, their behaviour, language, snippets of conversation etc is very interesting & gives me a lot of subject matter, as well as food for thought. Today was no exception.
I find that when I am writing, I’m in a near sound- proofed bubble, although I am aware of the volume, it hardly disturbs me at all.
What does affect me, although not as much as in time gone by, is the smell of alcohol. Drunken people cause me worry, but I think that’s because of my past. I am very conscious of them & give them a wide berth. It’s ironic really, as years ago, I too used to frequently drink far too much & at times could be as drunk as those that I now avoid! This made me think about my own behaviour at that time – did people avoid me too? I dare say that they did, as I have no reason to believe that I was any less obnoxious!
The smell of alcohol, especially beer has the ability to transport me back to those very bleak days, or should I say years? Like so many other people, I didn’t realise what a life destroyer & family breaker it was. Of course I knew the down side, but didn’t really understand until I lived with an alcoholic. No, I’m not a party pooper, most things in moderation are alright, but why have we allowed our society to become so dependant on drinking? A social drink can be undoubtedly pleasurable, but how many people know when they have crossed the line? I was sure that I knew, yet I drank far, far more than was healthy, even worse, I allowed it to destroy much more than my health! Being married to an alcoholic made it easy to excuse my own failings. Between us we allowed our family & finances to suffer. Having one or two drinks inside can make us loosen up & be fun, more than that……?
From a personal point of view, seeing someone that I dearly loved being transformed from a witty, clever man, into a bumbling violent wreck was heartbreaking. His life was being eaten away, simply because he was unable to resist drinking. He was not able to draw a line at which to stop, oblivion was his stopping point! He admitted that he no longer enjoyed the flavour, but would do literally anything to feed his habit. Thankfully My drinking wasn’t an addiction, so when I made the decision to stop, it was incredibly easy for me, but I was very, very fortunate! But for many people, how would they know if they were addicted, unless they tried to stop? Ask most drinkers & they will say that they could easily stop if they wanted to, yet they won’t try.
With this train of thought, I began to notice the behaviour of some of the people sitting nearby. I’m sure that they would hate to read my observations of them – I would have!
Sitting next to me, by the open door into the garden area, there was a group of young women, (maybe in their 20s). They had obviously been enjoying their day & had presumably been drinking for several hours. They were excruciatingly loud & embarrasing – tomorrow they will probably have major hangovers. I can’t tell you how clearly I remember those!!! Their pounding heads & upset stomachs will likely affect their bank holiday plans, so why do they do it? Why did I?
One girl in particular, a very neatly dressed blonde with a beautiful figure was especially mouthy, shouting, swearing & being obstructive when it was time to catch their bus. Screeching, with elegant long legs going everywhere except in a straight line, she was last heard threatening to be sick on the pavement! Classy! Her friends were laughing at her, just as I’m sure mine did to me! One ‘friend’ was even capturing the image on her phone, no doubt sharing it on social media for the world to see. Thank goodness that wasn’t available during my drinking days! I wonder if she has considered the side effect of alcohol on her wonderful complexion & slim figure? I certainly didn’t!
At the table in front of me there was a couple, possibly in their 30s. Already there when I arrived, they seemed to be having a pleasant meal. Over a very short time, aided by several glasses of wine, the woman got progressively louder & louder. Without trying, I overheard many personal things that I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted to share! I learnt where they met, how long they had been together & how much she hates his sister. I even know what her favourite sexual activity is – believe me, I really didn’t want to overhear that! As he went to the bar to top up their drinks, she began the ‘I love you’ phase. I’m sure that most people know how it goes : ‘I really, really love you, do you love me?’ ‘I love you too’ he responds, ‘but I really, really love you, much more than you love me – do you love me?’ “Yes, you know that I do” came the reply. Tearfully now,”Do you love me? Promise? Tell me you love me?” He grumpily responds & walks to the bar. She begins to sob uncontrollably. He returns & their drinks are wasted as he escorts her out of the pub. Their day probably now spoilt too. I remember that conversation myself. I wonder why alcohol brings out our insecurities?
To one side of me was an older couple, grimacing at the chaos a party of young men near to them was causing. They were having a great time, with no consideration of the upset they were causing. Eventually the older couple left, their part eaten meal, a sign that their day was spoilt through no fault of their own.
As I was gathering my belongings, ready to leave, another couple came & sat nearby. She was hanging around his neck, calling him ‘ babe’ every few seconds, alternating with criticising & swearing at him for how he was treating her. His response was to let out a very unbecoming belch! She didn’t seem to notice & was draping herself all over him. A couple of men, presumably his mates began to jeer & egg him on to ‘go for it!’ I was glad to leave! This may be normal behaviour late on a Friday or Saturday night, but this was at 6pm on a Sunday! At a time when there were several families around, it didn’t seem right!
Although now in my 60s I’m not at all straight laced & enjoy a joke & laugh as much as anyone, but I did find the pub visit an eye opener. Not just because of the behaviour of those so obviously inebriated, the main realisation was that although I can say that I was never that bad, I’ve no real way of being sure. Drink numbs us & helps us to have selective memory. I lost my family through alcohol ( not primarily mine, but it played it’s part!) thankfully, now single & teetotal, I am beginning to rebuild bridges with them. I would never try to prevent anyone from drinking, if that is their choice, but I wonder if things would be different if we were able to see ourselves as others see us. Probably not! Youngsters have an excuse, they are just learning, experimenting. It doesn’t make their actions right, or any less annoying but it is understandable. As we get older, it’s very tempting to gloss over our pasts, or burying them in the hope that they will never be unearthed.
Facing our demons, whatever they may be is a very difficult thing to undertake, but a very worthwhile one. Hindsight would be helpful, but not available, all any of us can do is our best with the tools we have. If we use them to try recollection, we can admit, even if only to ourselves, that we made stupid decisions, probably acted atrociously at times, embarrassingly at others. Most of the time they weren’t actually choices as such, we just didn’t think about the consequences of what we were doing.
Tonight, in the pub, seeing reflections of my past was horrible, yet illuminating. I have come through those days & although I can’t rewrite them, I can learn from them & forgive myself. I can move on.
All of that said, I hope that you all have a lovely weekend. Enjoy the good weather, drink enough water & whatever you do,be kind to yourself, as well as to those you love.
Thanks for reading this, although not my usual style, it feels good to get it out of my system.
I hope that you will ‘follow’ or subscribe to my blog. I love sharing my thoughts with you all.
Love & light