2021 Dry January in Tier 3, now 4/lockdown

I think this may be almost the 40th time I have done this, but certainly never in a lockdown. In one month Cornwall has had a meteoric rise from Tier 1 to the dizzy heights of tier 4, and now lockdown. The difference on this tee-total project is that I started on New Year’s day, as in previous years we always had a New Year Day BBQ and I gave myself a day’s grace! Every time, however, I have always written a blog a few days after January 1st just in case I happen to FALL OFF THE WAGON, although, so far, I have always avoided the temptation.

One has to wonder of course why choose January, It’s got 31 days, its cold, dark, income tax bills for self employed, Xmas overspending, credit card payments are due, and we’re on a lockdown, although I should say half a lockdown as the scientists are saying there are too many loopholes for the serious situation we’re in at the moment. I suppose it’s become a tradition, as an estimated 15% of the British population do it, or have started doing it. Reading other blogs, a larger proportion seem to have fallen by the wayside this time round.

Dry January as we know it originated in the United Kingdom as a public health campaign advocating that people abstain from alcohol during January. The charity Alcohol Concern (now called Alcohol Change UK) held the first Dry January campaign in January 2013. Of course many of us had already cottoned on to the idea. Interestingly, the Finns actually beat us to the idea: Finland started a Sober January program in 1942 as part of the war effort against the Soviet Union. That’s over 75 years ago!

The benefits are well documented and pretty attractive to those contemplating giving it a try :- loss of weight, much better sleep, good for immune system (vital in our perilous covid situation), healthier skin, ease pressure on the NHS for this year only we hope, self esteem (in terms of saying no), proving you have the will-power, and save money – proportionate, of course, to the amount you usually consume. According to a study published by the British Biochemical Society, there is a large decrease in the amount of fatty deposits in the liver as well as many other proven health benefits on offer. ‘Glad tidings of great joy‘, until you read the next section – ‘none will be biochemically permanent’!

Week one.

In our present world with very few extra-curricular activities, all days are much the same, especially with little or no schooling. So in my view we need to do something different to break the monotony. For me, the change to teetotalism, albeit temporarily, has achieved just that. I have found dry January infinitely easier this time around. I can easily consume one of Jean’s wonderful fish dishes without wanting just one (or maybe three) glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. At the start of a lockdown, we could do all those jobs that have been outstanding for the last few years, but most have now been done, or at least attempted, so we need something else to try or achieve.

I find to make any changes, however small, to the routine breaks the monotony and boredom – for example, sit in a different chair, change mealtimes a bit, try a new TV programme etc. For those with higher ambitions we could learn another language, contact long lost friends, improve computer skills, revive some of our previous life’s activities now that we have the time. Zoom, Facetime and Skype are freely available and , although not quite the same as face to face, are better than nothing and, like all computer skills, improve with time and use.

I was just reading that, interestingly, in Chinese philosophy it is thought that if we stick with boredom and move through it, we will be rewarded with fascination. Hopefully for all of us, we can test out this theory over the time we have ahead, and realise that boredom isn’t the enemy, but a friend that can teach us so much!

To get back to Week one the weather has been very mixed with rain to start and now frosty mornings and snow in some areas. On the plus side I’ve concentrated more on the bird feeders in the garden and attracted more birds that previous years, for example we have more blackcaps than ever before (we’ve also got more time to watch them of course), and the frost has necesitated some measures to save tender plants.

Not the prettiest sight, especially right outside the door, but sitting snuggly under there is a branching echium, hoping to make it to its first Easter!

Week Two

The semi lockdown continues and, judging by the latest statistics, isn’t having much effect. Early days perhaps, but I don’t feel we are taking it as seriously as we did for the last one. Fingers crossed there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the vaccine programme and the Canadian nose spray saNOtize which is being trialled in UK as I write, and they could be other reasons. Speaking on Zoom to our friends in France, where we used to live 3 months of the year, the entire country has much stricter rules including an 6 pm curfew. Maybe it’s time we tightened up a bit, although it wouldn’t be very popular and the press headlines would almost certainly include phrases like ‘police state’ or ‘blight on democracy,’ and a raft of comments about communist regimes! Let’s hope I’m wrong, and the lockdown results are just a bit delayed.

Just been reading an article by Matt Rudd in the Sunday Times headed ‘Extreme measures are the last thing we need, moderation is the key’, claiming that we are living more and more in an all or nothing society . He goes on to describe his last three (successful) attempts at Dry January where the month seemed like years and so on. His star phrase was ‘evenings pass like kidney stones‘ , which would certainly apply in our present situation!

One of the main motivating factors for me over the last 40 years has been to tell as many people as you can about your abstinence so you would subsequently feel a bit of an idiot if you fail ( I tried the same when I gave up smoking 40 odd years ago, and it worked!). Well in the lockdown we don’t actually see anybody, so that tactic is a bit redundant at the moment.

For some, it would appear, the lockdown seems to be an invitation to find ways round the rules. Applied to my abstinence I had to laugh at this cartoon, particularly as it features my very favourite wine!

Just realised it’s the 11th Jan today, one third of the month gone already.

It’s Jan 13th, unlucky maybe, and some of the press are this morning highlighting the large number of people giving up dry January, including several celebrities. Reports vary from the normally sedate Independent, with feature leader below to a more cutting article in the Mail.

MORE BRITONS THAN EVER TO DITCH ALCOHOL FOR DRY JANUARY, FINDS STUDY

The Mail is a little more direct and has this headline :

This is NOT the year for Dry January!’ Britons abandon sober start to 2021

  • One Briton wrote on Twitter ‘to hell with the dry January!’ after announcement
  • Another joked, ‘Well, so much for Dry January,’ after new lockdown imposed
  • Celebrities including Piers Morgan and Laura Whitmore also joined in 

If you’re still planning to do Dry January after that, see a doctor.’ – Piers Morgan after Jan 6th lock-down announcement, was one if the many celebrities to add their stories of falling off the wagon.

The SUN didn’t beat about the bush :

WINE O’LOCK 

Boozy Brits give Dry January the elbow as sales of wines, beer and spirits soar in lockdown

For me, I will soldier on undeterred, although life is beginning to be a little repetetive and boring . How much better it was during the previous lockdown, when the weather was good and we had a lot more daylight.

IMG_0206

January 14th and on the verge of halfway house. An early walk along the lane saw a lovely sky, but is it the shepherd’s folklore warning?

Got our groceries from Asda this morning and for those who noticed the nine bottles of wine being unloaded, that was for February or even March ! Just watering the indoor plants and couldn’t resist a photo of Jean’s Amaryllis (planted by her own fair hand) and conveniently hiding the pool and winter through the window.

Feeling truly blessed being able to watch the cricket from Sri Lanka this morning and England doing so well….until rain stopped play! Actually not raining here and we’re off for a sea walk, and hoping it’s as good as yesterday in this photo near Charlestown from the cliff path.

Week 3. Amidst the jest and banter, I just noticed this cartoon in the Times which brings us back down to earth!

grim reading from the grim reaper himself

Well, January 16th and definitely half way house. I don’t find abstinence particularly difficult because the usual things aren’t there to tempt me i.e. no friends to notice or comment, no social life, no bars or restaurants. There have never been more reasons to drink this January, but at the same time I think that it’s never been so easy not to drink. Maybe not for some people :-

Just been reading last year’s blog on Dry January – https://dunelm1.com/dry-january/ – which seems more interesting than this one, mainly because life was normal then with all our extra curricular activities. Things at the moment are rather boring, very predictable, and somewhat edgy, but this week’s news that our surgery has at last got its act together and has some vaccine has given us a bit of relief. Not heard anything yet but we should be near the top of the list on age grounds. Couldn’t resist this :-

To avoid going to the already overcrowded supermarkets we are now using Asda click and collect – the collection being kindly done by our daughter Wendy. Two weeks worked very successfully, but today I tried out the system of re-ordering my previous order and then altering it. I can’t explain why, but I somehow ordered the same items twice and got an urgent message stating that I had ‘exceeded the permissable number of items for a single order’, and at £187 significant damage to the bank account!. Back to the drawing board and ….it worked, to the disappointment of my reader(s).

Lots in the press today about the Covid vaccination being extended to lower age groups and the controversy as to the time limit for second doses. I’m now in the top age group…and haven’t heard anything yet! Rather oddly, the government announcement/quotes came from non other than Dominic Raab – the Foreign Secretary! Hmmm. Lots of press comments and lots of time to read them at the moment. Here’s one from the Washington Post, and I am relying on it until further notice!

How cartoons are chronicling the battle between mask wearers and Trump -  The Washington Post

Day 20. The powers that be must have been reading the blog because we had a phone call from our doctor’s surgery offering appointments for our vaccine on Friday for both of us. Certainly one step in the right direction although the second injection is not until 2 months after that, the risks of which are being widely discussed in the press today.

Certainly not a good day for morale with wind and rain, and over 1600 covid deaths reported yesterday. To add to that we have now ‘succeeded’ in being promoted to the top of the world rankings, knocking the Czech Rebublic into second place (figures from Oxford University’s ‘Our world in Data’). Rather predictably, the response from the government was:-

Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis claimed it is “too early” to do international comparisons on death rates’. Hmmmm…well here’s another statistic:-

Graphic title: Estimated number of people who would have tested positive for antibodies against COVID-19 in December

What’s all this to do with dry January? Well, in terms of mental health, it means quite a lot to everyone, particularly the dwindling number of teetotal participants (don’t have any statistics for that, but a good guess I think).

I shall continue on the straight and narrow courtesy of a multitude of hobbies and academic exercises. I aim for 14,000 steps per day thanks to my early morning walks down Pentewan trail, learning Spanish on Duolingo, refresher course in French, flute practice, choir rehearsals, zoom meetings, and we are almost up to date with outstanding jobs around the house and office. Have planted the first seeds in a propagator and they’re up and running as I write, and there are a lot of programmes about Cornwall on the TV. So plenty of positives. Not so for some:-

Private Eye Cartoons

Week 4 and a light at the end of the tunnel and a shot in the arm! Vaccines are rolling out now and we have just had our first doses of Covid Pfitzer, which turned out to be painless and a lot safer than the car journey up to Roche in the dark with hail, rain and ice to contend with. I must say that the vaccination centre at the Clays medical centre was very well organised. We then celebrated, if that’s the right word, by having a takeaway from our local pub (Hewas Inn) which was excellent. Wine would have spoiled it really!! We’re very happy to support local business, as it seems even the lawyers are suffering :-

Law Jokes, Lawyer Jokes, Law Cartoons and Law Humour | Queen's Counsel  Cartoon

Jan 23 and it’s about this time in the dry month that one starts considering when would be the appropriate time to stray from the straight and narrow. This annual conundrum is usually decided by an upcoming social event or celebration. This year is different and with nothing in the diary, if you exclude the four letter word (ZOOM), an extension to the regime is definitely being considered. Only 8 days to decide for sure.

All the other news has amost completely obliterated the Brexit changes – exactly what the government would have wanted, but hardly on this cataclysmic scale! The Times cartoonist certainly was the funny side of the transition:-

Jan 26 and a dreadful day all round. Not only did it pour with rain most of the day, but the Covid death toll reached an incredible 100,000. Britain is the fifth nation in the world to reach six figures, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. It now has a higher coronavirus death rate per million people than any other country. Maybe the end of the month can’t come quickly enough! A timely reminder to those who are bearing the brunt of the treatment and tragedy:-

Peter Brookes’s Times cartoon: Wednesday March 18, 2020

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