100 (actually 105) days of not drinking alcohol.


liquor_bottles.jpg

I love wine.  I love beer.  I love whisky.

But I drink too much of each.  Period.

So, in January this year I began my now almost customary Dry January (starting on 7th of the month because I was working on a theatre production until then and, of course, that involved drinking each night – not forgetting the after show).

Over the years I have more and more looked forward to, rather than dreaded, Dry January because it has become something of a physical reset button.  Maybe a mental one too.

Now, I don’t do ‘Mindfulness’ in fact I shit on mindfulness.

So, if that’s what floats your boat you won’t find any of that chat in the following paragraphs. (What I will say, though, is that 100 days without alcohol changes your perspective on stuff.  It energises you and if there were no twats in the world you would become very, very calm.  But there are.  Twats, that is. Lots.)

This ain’t no mindfulness lecture.

What do twats do?

Well, for one, they call me boring for not drinking.

My wife hasn’t drunk for six years and that doesn’t make her boring.  She lives with me for fuck’s sake.  It isn’t possible.

One of my friends said to me last week, “Mark, you know when we (twelve blokes) go to Primavera next month and if you decide you aren’t drinking, that’s cool.  Your choice.”

No, David Reid, (for it was he) you were cool for saying that, unsolicited.

Why, not drink for 100 days (105 so far actually)?

I honestly don’t really know why.  Well, maybe I do and I’m just not admitting it to myself.

Some of it has to do with the second sentence in this post, and the research that shows that it’s not young people who are over-indulging most these days – it’s 55 year olds like me that are.  That worries me.

More time, cheap booze, plenty disposable income = drinking too much.

Drinking too much = decreasing return on investment and increasing chance of cancer.

But, you know, as Joe Jackson says (sings), everything gives you cancer.  There’s no cure, there’s no answer.

So it can’t be that.

Let’s just say, I’m experimenting.

The experiment so far.

Hypothesis.  Drinking less than the garden pond of beer/wine/whisky a week that I did will have an impact on your body.

Observation. Yes.  It does.

I have lost at least two inches –  I’d say 3 – 4 actually – around my gut.  But this has been helped by my increased exercise (running) and my increasing adherence to a form of fasting diet. No food till noon.

My face is thin as a linguine strand, sadly atop a conchigilie, but, in time, this conchigilie is morphing into a macaroni.

(Shut this fucking pasta strand (no pun intended) down NOW.  Ed.)

My legs are fucked to bits though.  Knees, hamstrings completely kabooshed as I pound my fat carcass around the streets of South Queensferry.

But it’s getting easier.  Not to watch.  To do.  I wear lycra you see, and nothing is as inelegant as a still-a-bit-obese middle aged man in lycra – but it holds my muscles together and stops my breasts slapping my face.

I sleep better.  I can’t actually stay awake past about 10pm.

I work better.  If I had any.

I am calmer.  Am I fuck.

I remember shit.  Oh yes baby.  I remember everything.  Fucking EVERYTHING.

I am fun.  Debatable.  But I have been to many gigs (and enjoyed them), theatre shows, nights out, parties and not been a wanker.  In my opinion.

I piss like a horse.  I don’t know why, but I do.  Maybe I have pissed 2 inches off my gut.

My shit is exactly the same colour every day.  Tan.  Never black.  Consistent texture too.

I am less sarcastic.  So I am told.  But this post surely undermines that.

I am richer.  This has many caveats but, yes, I have saved some money.

How do I replace the bev?

The answer partly lies with Nanny State by Brew Dog, Piston Head Lager and Erdinger Alcohol Free Isotonic Drink, with a lemonade top because it is gash otherwise.

Thank you Nanny State and Piston Head.  Erdinger, you only get a pass.

The other answer is a new found love of coffee.

Will it continue?

I don’t know, do I?  I am an addictive personality.  I only have on and off switches.  So when you see me in my natural pre-this-post-state don’t throw it back in my face please.

Can you do it?  And what advice would I give?

Yes you can.  Don’t make too much of it.  Set a date a few weeks in advance so that you can blow out before you start.  Starting with a hangover is an EXCELLENT idea.

This blog is good.  Far more thoughtful than this car smash of an advice-piece.

Now, head off to the bar and get me a lime and soda.  Please.

 

 

 

 

Things I won’t be doing this weekend.


london-1900x1080.jpg

This weekend I won’t be cheering on my daughter at a Cross Fit open competition in Stratford.

This weekend I won’t be walking the canal at Hackney Wick.

This weekend I won’t be having dinner at The First Dates restaurant.

This weekend I won’t be sampling real ales and pizza in The Crate Brewery.

This weekend I won’t be rummaging through the Gods Own Junkyard in Walthamstow.

This weekend I won’t be enjoying a free historical photographic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

This weekend I won’t be eating Peruvian at Cevicheuk.

This weekend I won’t be wandering hand in hand round the V&A with my wife.

This weekend I won’t be going to a jazz club (possibly Ronnie Scott’s).

This Weekend I won’t be giggling and acting like a doting father with my daughter.

This weekend I won’t be Eating crushed advocate on toast in a bijou flat in Stratford East.

This weekend I won’t be trying lunch at Goat.

This weekend I won’t be taking part in a musical singalong at The Pheonix Art Club in Soho.

This weekend I won’t be visiting the Columbia Road Flower Market.

This weekend I won’t be on a free street Art walking tour in Brick Lane

This weekend I won’t be sampling vegan food at Mildreds

This weekend I won’t be Touring the Houses of Parliament thanks to my local MP.

This weekend I won’t be eating lunch overlooking the Thames in the HoP members restaurant.

This weekend I won’t be viewing London from the Sky Garden in The Shard

This weekend I might be making ANOTHER FUCKING SNOWMAN.

#BeastFromTheEast

 

A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.


Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 09.52.47.png

Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.

Our House. A pact with Guru Dudu.


In an earlier post I told you how Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour was one of five star hits of the festival.

So much so that when he said on his Facebook page on Sunday that he needed a room for a few days we offered the room in our Air B’nB free of charge.

On one condition.

He put on a Silent Disco Walking Tour here in South Queensferry.

It was particularly relevant as today was the day the Queen opened the new Queensferry Crossing so it seemed like an excellent way to celebrate.

He agreed and I put the jungle drums into motion.  24 hours later 45 Guru Dudu virgins were assembled in Scotmid’s Car Park and the tour began.

Starting with his legendary East meets West Yoga/Disco warm up we all found our inner Disco Chakra’s to Chic’s Le Freak.  And what’s more, with Guru Dudu having implored the Disco Divas to take the relentless rain away, they did, and we were treated to a pleasant autumnal evening’s weather.

IMG_2358.JPG

20170904_190628.jpg

Moving to The Loan we were further uninhibited as we each took to the dance stage in our own style which was echoed by the assembled.

Next stop the harbour, with the 53 year old Road bridge and the aforementioned 12 hour old Queensferry crossing as our background to the West and the iconic 145 year old Rail Bridge as the dance canvas to the East.

IMG_2374.JPG

IMG_2380.JPG

20170904_192234.jpg

Post bridge orgy we headed to the High Street for our mass choir performance of Bohemian Rhapsody to the Orocco Pier posse.  It was awesome (plenty of air guitars on show).

IMG_2387.JPG

Up the West Terrace past the Ferry Tap to the East Terrace where we did a ‘Soul Train’ to Rose Royce’s Car Wash.

Next up we performed Our House by Madness.  IN. A. HOUSE.  (The pink one on East Terrace)

IMG_2411.JPG

Not to be outdone, a resident of West Terrace took us up The Vennel (painful) before inviting us into her back garden, where we jigged to Rihanna.

IMG_2433.JPG

As we basked in a glorious sunset we headed back to Scotmid for the piece de resistance and finale.

IMG_2442.JPG

IMG_2453.JPG

IMG_2454.JPG

Scotmid staff and customers were utterly bemused as this flash mob descended on their favourite supermarket.

IMG_2466.JPG

IMG_2481.jpg

IMG_2486.JPG

And just to top it all off we did a collection for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute that has a station in South Queensferry.  (Again it seemed appropriate, on this special day, as they have been saving lives around the bridges for many, many years.)

£280 later…

IMG_2493.JPG

Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour


CpGnVZ4XEAEd_Vk.jpg

Sometimes you stumble upon an ‘experience’ that is so unique, so damn CLEVER that it takes your breath away.

Guru Dudu has created that ‘experience’: an hour long tour in the hands of a self appointed guru and yoga instructor with a deep love of Disco music.

50 of us congregated in the Grassmarket at 2pm on a busy Fringe Sunday afternoon, right in the heart of thronging Edinburgh touristville. After being given radio controlled earphones Guru Dudu commenced the tour with a bit of dance yoga warm up, meet the neighbours, before commencing the tour. In a fairly tight mile or so loop we danced to Abba, Stevie Wonder, Backstreet Boys, Chic and many more disco and discoesque classics.

We created a Soul train near the University.

We sang Bohemian Rhapsody to the crowd at Greyfriars Bobby.

We air guitared.

We serenaded strangers.

But, most of all, we danced like crazy gradually becoming less and less aware of the fact that this was essentially a public performance with a cast of strangers and a conductor that is also a master choreographer.

“Voullez Vous, Aha” a second before each ‘Aha’ Guru Dudu points out a passing person on the left or right and instructs us to shout ‘Aha’ and point at them in unison. It works every time. You laugh at your innate ability to be a massed choir and dance troupe with absolutely no training. It is miraculous.

And we grinned. Oh how we grinned, from ear to ear for every second of the 45 minute tour.

This is as good a Fringe show as you will EVER perform in. Go on, release your inner Bee Gee.

Glasto Lite.


primavera-sound.jpg

Having  been unable to get tickets for Glastonbury for a few years now I am about to experience the Catalonian equivalent with a cheeky wee trip to Barcelona for Primavera Sound.

Top of my list of, and possible, just about, ‘to see’ are…

  • Solange
  • Bon Iver
  • Kate Tempest
  • Aphex Twin
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
  • Sinkane
  • Magnetic Fields (Playing the ED Fest in August)
  • Arab Strap
  • the xx
  • Sleaford Mods
  • Jamie XX
  • Songhoy Blues
  • Van Morrison
  • Metronomy
  • Teenage Fanclub
  • Grace Jones
  • Arcade Fire
  • Wild Beasts
  • Japandroids

Of these my number one pick is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  Check out Gamma Knife, their best song.  They have many best songs.

Super Furry Animals at The Usher Hall Edinburgh: Review


Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.02.40.png

Usually with bands I prefer their early work before they ‘sell out’.  So this retrospective set of 1996’s Fuzzy Logic and 1997’s Radiator should have got me going.

But, see, I likes their later stuff. 2000’s Myng, 2001’s Rings Around the World and 2003’s Phantom Power.

There was nothing particularly wrong about this rendering of their two debut albums.  Not from the band anyway.

But the sound.  Oh my sweet Lord.

Helen Keller wearing an aqualung could have put on a better performance than this.

Go to your next gig wearing a parka with your hood up, wrap your head in a duvet and then get a dog to piss on it and you’d be getting close to experiencing what went on the Usher Hall last night.

Rubbish. And, consequently, boring.

Another great example of why Edinburgh is crying out for a good mid sized venue (it was only half sold out) because the Usher Hall is putrid for rock and roll.

1 star.