'Stone cold sober.' Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Hard, icy. Brrrrr. No bloody ta. However, as the millions who choose to stay sober now know, the propaganda around drinking and sobriety is wonky. Sober doesn't feel stony, or cold. Retired wreckhead Catherine Gray, author of surprise bestseller The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, is now in her eighth sober year and has learnt a damn sight more. This hotly anticipated sequel enlists the help of experts and case studies, turning a curious, playful gaze onto provocative questions. Is alcohol a parenting aid? Why are booze and cocaine such a horse and carriage? Once an addict, always an addict? How do you feel safe - from alcohol, others and yourself - in sobriety?...
Publisher: Aster (10 Jun. 2021) Language: English Hardcover: 304 pages ISBN-10: 1783253398 ISBN-13: 978-1783253395 Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.6 x 21.8 cm
For the world’s barflies, boozehounds, hellraisers, party animals and hedonists.
Whether ex- or current, you are my people.
‘Much to learn, you still have’
I was four years sober when I wrote The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. Back then, even though I would’ve breathily, beatifically told you that one of my daily mottos was ‘My cup is never full’ (*peace sign*) as in ‘there’s always more to learn’, secretly, I thought I’d learned most of what I was going to about recovering from being a raging wreckhead. Ha! What a mega-twit. If I could have a superpower, it would be hindsight in the moment.
Yoda is right. Much to learn, I still have. I am still learning about alcohol; the most glorified, reviled, celebrated, despised, manipulated, marketed and binged substance on the planet. I’m constantly surprised by new information on the enormous impact it has on our mental, physical, social, parental, sexual, familial and financial health. And I’ve dug up new dirt on how cunning, maddening and powerful the kingpins of the booze industry are – Big Alcohol.
But most of all, I’ve learned a damn sight more about how to adult as a sober, how to be happy as a teetotaller, how to create healthy relationships as a non-drinker and how to thrive as an abstainer in an alco-centric society that sometimes literally chants ‘drink, drink, drink!’ at us.
I’m now over seven years sober. This book is everything I’ve added to my never-full cup in the past three years. And no, I didn’t write it because I was bored and couldn’t think of a fresh topic. I wrote it because I couldn’t not write it. There’s so much more I wanted to tell you. Needed to tell you! It’s everything I wish I’d known before going sober, or in the first 30 days, or indeed in the first four years.
My assumed reader is those who have already joined sober village. But what’s that saying about assumption; that it makes an ass of you and me? That. Except it only makes an ass of me. You have a lovely ass.
While this book is intended as a sequel to The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, thus it’s ideally read after that book, do whatever the fuckety fuck you want. You’re an adult. It’s not for me to tell you what to do.
But if you do want tips, tools, tricks and takeaways on how to navigate the early days of teetotalling, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober is your badger (plus the follow-up, interactive The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Journal). There, you’ll find the blueprints for my sober launch pad: practical tools for the first 30 days, ‘what do I tell people’ tips, ways to ease sober socialising, teetotal friend-finding, further reading; it’s all there.
Regardless, read the books in any order you darn well please. If you like to colour outside the lines, bend the rules, do things backwards, upturn the status quo, then you’re in the right place. This is the isle of rule-benders and contrarians. We used to rebel by getting spangled; now we rebel by keeping our sober heads, even when all about us are losing theirs.
I realise many of the sober-curious will read this while still drinking (literally). Welcome, my boozehound friends! Feel free to continue to send me pictures of the book + alcohol. I’m the last person to judge drinkers. It’d be rich of me to judge ’em, given I drank myself legless for 21 years and once used my teeth to open beer. Drinkers are my people.
I could conceivably be described as a teensy bit anti-alcohol these days (understatement of the century: it’s hard not to be, once you start mining the reality + corruption), but I am not remotely anti-drinker.
I understand why people drink. I understand that pipe dream of perfect togetherness that you chase until the bottom of the bottle; that sprite of the ultimate night out that you chase down until you find yourself at a lock-in in Balham at 3am doing lines of coke off a cracked CD case (just me?).
No matter where you currently are in this journey, think of me as your broad on a horse who rides ahead into the fray to report back on what things – both beautiful and beastly – are awaiting you further on. Should you choose to commence, or continue, this wild, sober ride.
Whatever your intention in reading this book, whether to gawk or grow, I promise this: I’ll make it as entertaining as I possibly can.