The floor was sticky with half-rotten pine needles, Shane McGowan had went back to his bed, and the world, guilty and skint, was promising itself that it was going to be a better boy this year.
Yes, Christmas had come, Christmas had went, and the month of false pledges and unrealistic transformations was upon us.
Returning to work, having thoroughly booted the stuffing out of myself for the Lord, I can remember an episode that took place in the tea room, during which I was jeered, mocked and scorned.
After exchanging a few post-holiday pleasantries, I took a seat at the table just as the conversation turned to ‘the drink’.
“I am never drinking again,” said the first fantasist, addressing the tight, tea-slurping crowd.
“Yeah,” said an upbeat and ignorant teetotaler, “that is a good idea. You do look a bit of a funny colour.”
“Thanks a million,” said her pallid-faced friend.
“Well,” piped up another member of staff, his voice full of arrogant humility, “I would not be so stupid as to say that I am never drinking again – because I will – but I can say for absolutely certain that not a drop will pass these lips until the first of February arrives.”
Half-expecting a backlash to how easily he appeared to think he could breeze through a beerless month, I was shocked when the whole tea room got behind him.
“Fair play to ye – I am doing the same,” said just about everyone.
It turned out that almost the whole workforce were singing off the same hymn sheet.
Everyone was doing a dry January.
However, not only were they doing it, but these people, each who had demonstrated their deep fondness for alcohol by having almost poisoned themselves over the preceding weeks, seemed to think they were going to do it at their leisure.
Like Jesus to the slabber, these monks would simply show the bottle their other cheek – for a whole month!
This is hangover talk, I said to myself. Give them a week, and they won’t be so steadfast and disciplined.
“Jeez, I think the month could be hard enough,” I said, diplomatically. “I don’t think I could do all of January, anyway. I think I am just going to try kick the Friday nights instead.” I said, reasonably enough, I thought.
Well, how they erupted into laughter.
“Sure anyone could do that,” said the ringleader, barely fit to catch her breath between patronising cackles.
Sure enough, as each new person entered the tea room, they were informed on arrival about my ludicrous Dry Friday regime.
Though it would be untrue to say that the reaction was unanimously one of dismissal and mockery, the reception was largely skewed in that direction.
Thrown by how outrageous my declaration had come off, I sat in quiet shock, not sure if I was an island of sanity in a sea of madness, or the other way around.
Anyway, dear reader, fast forward five months and let us assess how things have went since then.
Of those colleagues who swore themselves to a month of sobriety, at least half, and I am being generous, were drunk before four weeks had elapsed.
No shock there. Drink is hard to resist when you love it.
Of those whose resolve stayed strong, none, to my knowledge, are still off the beer, or are drinking markedly less.
(Admittedly, I have not ran around the office asking everybody, but I have noticed no discernable difference in attitude, productivity or general disposition.)
And what about the joke of a man who was Mr No-Beer-On-Friday-Nights?
I made it through January, quite liked the way I was feeling, kept her going through February, and, until now, I would say I have only broke my Friday night rule about three times since Christmas.
I have started playing football on Saturday mornings, I haven’t got a dose since Christmas, and, such is my almost preternatural radiance, I have been offered a handsome sum to star in a Nivea add.
But, in all seriousness, small commitments are handier kept.
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