Ethanol, part ii

Promise I’ll get back to writing about music soon. But this is my site, my rules so you’ll just have to shine it on a little longer.

In the wake of my post Ethanol, and the kind and caring responses that arrived, I want to clear up a small number of misconceptions that people may have about alcoholism. The facts are:

  1. Alcoholism is not about getting drunk
  2. Alcoholism is not about partying, getting wasted, or waking up with a hangover
  3. You probably know several alcoholics without knowing it
  4. Nobody becomes an alcoholic simply because they really, really like alcohol

I am an alcoholic, but you will rarely find me drunk. I hate being drunk. I’m not pretending that it never happens, but I am unhappy and ashamed when it does. And bored. Bored of it.

I drink to get sober. I drink in order to reach normality. To feel like how I imagine the real humans must feel all the time.


This is, in some ways, a love song. Or a coming-out party, if you want to come. You’re all invited.

This is a song about C2H6O. Ethanol. Alcohol.

I am an alcoholic. I am not proud, but I am not ashamed. We are all human and we make it through our own days in ways as best we can. And some days, if not every day, the easiest way to survive arrives in a glass bottle.

I remember the first night that drinking changed from being fun to being necessary for survival. I knew it was dangerous, and I remember the way that felt. It was exciting. A woman led me to that place, but it wasn’t her fault.

Here we are, 25 years later, wondering night after night whether I can make it to the store for more before closing time.

Some days I feel like a traitor if I don’t drink. That’s how insidious this harsh, delicious mistress is.

There is something quite irresistible about addiction.

I once tried to give up drinking. Three days later I was in a hospital bed. That’ll teach me. I was happy enough, even over the moon: Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride is a hell of a drug, as the name might suggest. By morning I did not want to go home.

What do we learn from all this talking, crying, shouting, hallucinating?

Nothing yet.


Barely, but yes.

Still getting away with it, even if I do sorely disappoint every single person I have ever loved.

Take care, all of you. You are important and loved. You are loved and loved unconditionally, ethanol or none.


Added: Ethanol, part ii.

Scarlet and Wine (for Alice)

Alice and I met 20 years ago today. She was centre stage. A seemingly quiet voice in a searingly quiet room, she tore the place apart, breaking hearts.

Her voice, her love, her kindness were palpable. Her songs beautiful.

Break, break, break.

We talked and walked after the show, after the dance. Alice was out of my league. I was out of my depth, and didn’t stand a chance.

Shake, shake, shake.

Nine months later we were married, and Scarlet was on the way. Scarlet and wine were on the way.

Alice made her decisions, and made them well. The wine and I were less important than Scarlet.

Annabel Lately

Annabel works the nights. As the sun goes down, she wakes up, drinks her drink from a coffee cup. We all get by somehow.

You first met Annabel longer ago than she cares to remember. You remember.

Annabel walks you through the streets of old Soho. You wonder where this will lead, even though you know.

In her room, she lights the fuse. Fairy lights and subtle cues. Minutes later, the deal is done. The rent is overdue.

For Annabel lately, the years now take their toll. You talk about the times that passed, while Annabel wonders how long her work can last.

For all her lovers who have come and gone, Annabel still sleeps alone.