If someone asked you what you thought British culture was, what would you say? Would you say the Royal family? Drinking tea? Big Ben? Harry Potter? The Beatles? The London Eye? Or would you say drinking alcohol?
Now, if you're not from the UK, you may not know about how much us Brit's go down the pub for just "one quick drink" which soon turns into two, three, four, and many, many more, including shots. In fact, in the third quarter of 2019 alone, the Great British public spent around £5.5 billion on alcohol. I mean, you can get some bottles of wine for just £4, so imagine how many bottles of wine you could buy for £5.5 billion. I'm no maths expert, but I'm guessing that's quite a lot of wine.
I guess when you put all of that into perspective, I'm not the average British person? Why? Because I don't drink alcohol.
Don't get me wrong, I used to drink alcohol. The first time I ever tasted a drop of alcohol was when I was seven on holiday in Spain and my Dad let me have a sip of his lager, which I thought tasted absolutely disgusting. But I didn't start drinking properly until I was fourteen (and before anyone starts, I 100% DO NOT advocate underage drinking). It started off with just a few cans of cider occasionally, which then turned into a few glasses of wine/prosecco/champagne, which then turned into spirits with lemonade or coke in, which then turned into shots. I wouldn't say I drank often, but when I did, I drank a lot.
There is one particular time I am going to talk to you about which occurred when I was seventeen and was probably the first time I actually got properly drunk and not just a bit tipsy. I had a few friends come round to my house and we were going to be having a bit of a camp out in one of the fields next to my house. I had asked my friend if she could buy everyone some alcohol (which her Mum had to do, but was surprisingly fine with, given we were all only sixteen/seventeen at the time). I also think my friend's boyfriend also got us some alcohol because he was always able to pass for being at least eighteen without anyone asking for ID (which is pretty stupid if you ask me). Amongst our many drinks, we had cider, boxes of wine, peach schnapps, sours, and maybe some vodka, but I can't actually remember if we had that or not. As so far in my years of drinking alcohol I had only ever got a bit tipsy, had never thrown up, and there was not an adult in sight, I decided I was going to go in hard with the alcohol. And in hard I went. Except it was a bit too hard. All I'm saying is one minute I was lying on the floor of the tent with a bottle of schnapps in one hand and a bottle of something else in the other, the next minute I was in a hurry to get up and out of the tent so I could throw up. This then resulted in my boyfriend (at the time) having to drag me across two fields back to my house, at which point I was barefoot, didn't feel a single ounce of pain when walking across some nettles/thistles, and almost got dropped in a ditch by my boyfriend because it was pitch black and he couldn't see where he was going. I then spent two hours throwing up in the toilet/floor/falling asleep on the toilet, while my Mum and my boyfriend kept on banging on the door trying to get me to unlock it because during this time I thought I could maintain my dignity by locking the door so no one could see me throwing up. And when I did eventually come out of the bathroom, my boyfriend had opened the front door so I could get a bit of fresh air, to which I had a go at him for doing so, slammed the door shut, threw up down the door and then ran back into the bathroom, locking the door behind me, once again to try and maintain my long-lost 'dignity'. When I did then come out of the bathroom having sobered up a little, my mum took a picture of me (which is just rude and I'm pretty sure against my human rights) and had bought downstairs some clean pyjamas for me to get changed into, which I willingly stripped off to get into in the kitchen, something which when sober I would be too embarrassed and self-conscious about to do, but apparently when absolutely bladdered I couldn't care less about stripping off naked. My mum had also bought down some blankets so I could sleep on the sofa and so my boyfriend could sleep in the chair, and she had also put an old washing-up bowl next to the sofa in case I needed to be sick in the night, which I was, less than five minutes after she had gone upstairs to bed. Luckily when I woke up the next morning I didn't have a hangover (and still haven't had one to this day), however the downside was during this time we were in the middle of selling our house and on that day someone was coming to view our house at 10am, so it was my job to clean up myself and pretty much every single room I had been in the night before to get rid of my sick and the smell of it before the people came round. Luckily I had woken up at 6:30am (the earliest I have ever been awake without an alarm) and had finished cleaning up with plenty of time to spare before the people coming to view the house turned up (and surprisingly these people never ended up actually buying the house). I know many Brit's will call me a 'hero' or 'legend' for what happened that night, but they couldn't be more wrong. Instead, I am a complete and utter idiot.
So after a night of heavily throwing up, that is why since then I became more careful when drinking alcohol. But there has since been two occasions that occurred within two weeks of each other that led me to the decision of no longer drinking...
The first occurred at the beginning of December 2018. I was out with a friend in spoons and we had plans to go to a nightclub a few hours later. We got to spoons around nine and as it was a Saturday it was quite packed. It took us over half an hour to get a drink and then we were stood around for a while waiting to grab a table to sit at. Luckily a few people who were sat near to where we were stood got up and left so we sat down. A few minutes later, a guy, who was at least in his fifties, came over to us and asked us if he could leave his bag with us while he went to the toilet as he was on his own. At the time we didn't think anything of it (although looking back on it now we should have suspected something or just said that we were leaving). When he came back, he thanked us for looking after his bag. But instead of just taking his bag and leaving, he crouched down next to us and started acting really oddly. He kept on complimenting us and I can't remember everything that happened, but at one point he started stroking my friend's leg and saying how smooth it was and kept on getting me to stroke it. He asked us where we lived (which we both lied about) and continued to act oddly. He then said he was going out for a smoke and had still left his bag with us, but we couldn't leave because we would have had to walk past him outside and as there was only two of us and not a member of staff anywhere near us, we decided not to tell anyone as neither of us wanted to leave the other on her own in case the man came back. At this point another man came up to us and asked us if we were okay and if that other man was with us or not, to which we said he wasn't. He offered to claim he was my Dad, which I was kind of wary of as I wasn't sure if he was being genuine or if he was just another creepy guy. But we still let him do that and when the other guy came back this guy made him aware that he was my 'Dad', which kind of made the guy back off a little bit but he was still sitting with us. So when my 'Dad' went back over to his table with his friends, a few minutes later me and my friend told this guy that we were leaving, mouthed 'thank you' to my 'Dad', and walked out of spoons. But the creepy guy followed us out, but I guess because security was at the door (who I couldn't talk to about the situation because the guy was behind us), the guy stayed standing outside spoons. Instead of going to the nightclub, we just went back home because we were both shook up about the entire thing. We were going to get a taxi, which may have been the safest option, but as we were unsure of whether the guy was still following us or not, decided it was best to run as fast as we could back home as it was only fifteen minutes away and it was possibly slightly safer than standing around and waiting for a taxi to turn up. Plus, given how busy it was outside a few clubs we walked past as they would have been open for at least half an hour at that point, if he was following us (which we soon realised he wasn't as we couldn't see him - or at least I hope he wasn't following us), he would have lost us in the crowd.
But there was another time after that, that led to my final decision that I would never drink again. This occurred a couple of weeks later and myself and a few friends were going out. Me and my one friend had pre's at mine and then went and met with everyone else at spoons. We had a few shots, a cocktail pitcher, and then got another cocktail pitcher that we poured five double shots of vodka into. It's safe to say that we were all pretty drunk, to the point where we got kicked out of spoons. We then made our way to a club, which I can't even remember happening. There was only three of us and the issue we had was that our one friend only had a fake ID (something I DO NOT condone) despite having turned eighteen a few days earlier, but she had lost her real ID. The other issue we had was that our other friend was incredibly drunk and kept on falling over, so we decided I should be the first one to show my ID to the bouncer because that would most likely mean we would all get in. Except we didn't. I got in, but the other two didn't due to being too drunk and having a fake ID. Only I never realised this and went into the club alone and left my coat in the cloakroom and at which point realised they weren't with me. I thought they may have been elsewhere so I searched the club and couldn't find them. So I decided to get my coat and go outside but still couldn't find them. I somehow decided it was best for me to go home (I only lived fifteen minutes from where I was), which I'm now guessing was because I thought I was going to be sick and wanted to be home when that happened and knew that if I was home I could call them as that was probably the best place for us to meet without anyone getting lost. Plus the fact I was in Birmingham, drunk and alone, on a Friday night and was scared for my safety. So I got in a taxi, went home, and within about five seconds threw up. I put my phone on charge because I realised I was losing battery. I then ended up collapsing in my bed and didn't wake up till the next morning. I had completely forgotten what had happened, but soon realised that my friend wasn't in my room (she was meant to be staying with me). I then heard a loud knocking on my door, so opened it and my friend was outside (I was in uni accommodation at the time and she had somehow managed to get into my accommodation and get to outside my room, despite there being a heavy security system and her being incredibly drunk). It was such an incredibly messy situation and one I wish to never put myself in again.
I know many people will say "oh, I'll just go out for one drink and then I'll go home", but how easy is it for that one drink to turn into many more. It's literally a case of one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
Whenever I used to drink alcohol, I always used to over-do it. It would always get to the point where I no longer felt in control of myself. That last night I referred to, I genuinely cannot remember parts of it and it worries me. That has only happened in one other situation and that was the time I mentioned earlier when I got drunk in a tent. It's a scary feeling, not being able to remember something, which is why I decided to no longer put myself in that position and to stop drinking alcohol.
Let's be honest, does anyone even like the taste of alcohol? I would much rather take a J20 over a glass of white wine any day. Isn't that why people put mixers in with spirits, such as pink gin and lemonade, or a vodka and coke? Who even enjoys taking shots and think they taste nice? If you do then fair enough, but I'm fairly certain the majority of people only drink alcohol to get drunk.
Yes, you can call me boring for not drinking alcohol. But I've been there and worn the T-Shirt and looking back on it now, since that time when I got drunk in the tent and was sick, that has always made me really wary when I did drink that even just a drop of alcohol would make me be sick again. So I stopped. I haven't had a drop of alcohol for a year now and honestly, I really don't miss it. Maybe during lockdown the fact that everyone has been saying they're missing the pub has made me think that I miss it, but I really don't. I would much rather have a nice, casual evening out with my friends than go on a big night out. I was lucky on that last night out, but things could have turned out very differently and to be honest, I'm really surprised that they didn't.
I'm not saying don't drink alcohol, just make sure you are aware of what your limits are, stick to these limits and always make sure you stick with at least one friend when on a night out.
Love Beth xx