I’m off the booze. ‘I love you so much,’ my wife said. Granted, she was talking to her wine

Dry in the pandemic: After 46 long days, I suspect she’s looking forward to Easter Sunday even more than me

Dry Lent: amazingly, my furrowed brow and disapproving look when my wife pours a glass of wine in the evening have not resulted in her joining my fast. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Dry Lent: amazingly, my furrowed brow and disapproving look when my wife pours a glass of wine in the evening have not resulted in her joining my fast. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

Dry January is for chumps. The first month of the year is far too depressing to give up anything. There is nowhere to go, and the evenings feel so long with everyone stuck indoors. Sure, if you enjoy a pint of stout, or glass of wine, or shot of whiskey, what else would you be doing?

It’s why I’ve never even considered giving up alcohol for January. No, I pick a much more reasonable time of the year for my fast. Then, well, 2020 happened.

I’ve avoided drinking alcohol during Lent every year since some time in the late 1990s. It would be a wonderful benefit for my health if I didn’t make up for it during the rest of the year.

Tommy Tiernan used to tell a story about his partner threatening to leave him if he didn’t start drinking again. It’s the same in this house

First, it is important to point out, on behalf of everyone who takes part in a Lenten fast, that there are not 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Well, there are, but there are also six more than that. Lent is 46 days long.

I thought it was something to do with Sundays not being counted, but apparently it’s more complicated than that. Either way, it’s 46 days. Forty-six.

Unless, of course, you don’t count St Patrick’s Day. (We all know that Jesus came in from the desert on March 17th and broke up his fast with some green beer in a local tavern.)

I have been sticking to my abstinence since late February despite, well, you know what. It has been more than challenging this year. It has been very hard not to give up giving up.

And, for once, I broke the fast on Paddy’s Day. It wasn’t actually my idea to give up Lent for the day. It was my wife’s. The comedian Tommy Tiernan used to tell a story about his partner threatening to leave him if he didn’t start drinking again. It’s the same in this house. Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

Apart from that temporary lapse, however, I’ve avoided looking at the top shelf in the fridge for more than 40 days now. While pubs being closed may have helped somewhat, anecdotal evidence suggests people are indulging far more than usual in their living rooms. It’s hardly surprising, or unreasonable, though obviously people need to be conscious of not overdoing it.

‘When times were tough you were there for me. I love you so much,’ my wife said last night. Granted, she was talking to the wine

Next week I will be joining their ranks. The sound of the kids reaching the top step of the stairs will be echoed by a bottle top being opened.

Amazingly, during this or the past 20 Lents, my furrowed brow and disapproving look when my wife pours a glass of wine in the evening have not resulted in her joining my fast. I suspect she is looking forward to Easter Sunday more than me.

To be fair, when we were sitting on the couch last night, me with my pint glass of water, with just a dash of smugness, and her with a Faustino V Rioja, she said: “When times were tough you were there for me. I love you so much.” Granted, she was talking to the wine.

In these tough times it has given me some sense of normality to continue with my usual Lenten fast. There has been, strangely, some comfort in struggling down a familiar and annual path. The journey is the same every year: the first week I think about alcohol more than I ever normally do, and, then, after that, I forget about it until someone asks me if I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday. And my wife answers yes.

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