Sunday, 4 January 2015

Nick is Now Drinking

First drink in 12 months. Champagne, obviously.
I was looking forward to a relaxing wind-down to the end of 2014. At 7.34am on New Year's Eve I got a text from BBC Radio 5 live. Could I come on the radio to talk about my Not Drinking in the context of the general hoo-hah about Dry January?

Of course I could.

We did it from my temporary "studio" in the kids playroom via Skype. It seemed to go okay. Here's an edit:

Shortly before I did the interview I received a £40 donation from a university friend.

Then a nice man from the BBC's General News Service called. He'd just seen I was in the 5live running order. Would I be interested in talking about the same subject to some BBC local radio stations as part of what they call a GNS offer? Of course I would.

Whilst waiting for this to happen a £36.50 donation came in from a couple of friends from Oxford, £20 arrived from a former BBC Three colleague and another £20 came in from a BBC colleague I only really know through twitter. A schoolfriend bunged me £50 and another university friend gave me £20.

A GNS offer involves offering a guest's availability to all the BBC local radio stations for 8 minutes at a time within a specified timeslot (in my case two hours between 3pm and 5pm). I have spoken to hundreds of GNS-produced interviewees since I started on BBC Surrey, but I have never been one before. It was fun.

At 3pm I dialled into Broadcasting House on Skype and over the next two hours I spoke to 15 different BBC local radio presenters about my Not Drinking. Some interviews were pre-recorded. Most were carried live.

One way of getting good at being interviewed is to do lots of them in short succession on the same subject. Here are three of them - interviews number three, seven and twelve of the day (I did a phono with my own station BBC Surrey at 1440). Feel free to dip in and out.

During this time the kids were looking after themselves next door whilst my wife was out doing some last minute present-shopping for our middle child, who has a birthday soon.

There were some noises off during one live interview, but the only time my son burst into the room was during a pre-record, so we were able to stop and pick it up again.

Whilst I was carrying out the interviews an anonymous donor put in £10 and just as I finished a friend from my student radio days kindly put in another tenner.

At 7.30pm we went to Byfleet Dave's house for new year. The children have four uncles, two of whom are called Dave. Abi once decided to differentiate them by location, so they are now known as Far Away Dave and Byfleet Dave.

Another friend from BBC Three donated a fiver.

We polished off a curry by 9pm and got our youngest to bed by 10pm.

Another schoolfriend put in £50.

Temporary studio. Or as it's usually known, children's playroom.
We played a board game, attempted a bit of Nintendo Wii and as the fireworks hove into view on BBC1 I was handed a glass of fizz. As the Big Ben bongs went at midnight I had my first sip of alcohol a year after I had my last.

It tasted funny. I had been up since 3.40am so I was quite tired anyway. I tried a beer, which didn't go down very well. At around 2.30am I had a nice glass of Sauvignon, which I did, finally, enjoy.

So that's it. I'm drinking again. I had three beers on New Year's Day at my in-laws, where I ceremoniously handed back my copy of Dr David Marjot's The Diseases of Alcohol to the priest who gave it to me.

Thereafter a neighbour gave me £20 and my best man, who already donated £20 at the start of 2014, gave me another £100.

On the evening of 1 Jan I was asked to go on the Mark Forrest Show across the BBC in England to talk about what giving up had done for me and tomorrow I'll be talking to Dan Chisholm on his regional BBC show about New Years Resolutions and how to get through them.

Over the course of three days (31 Dec to 2 Jan) my fundraising total had gone from £1530 to £1921.50, not including gift aid, which has taken it way beyond £2000.

This morning I was in the gym at 6am. Some habits acquired over the last year are going to take a while to shake off.

I'm going to write a couple more blog posts before winding everything up on here. If you have donated I am profoundly grateful. It made me happier than I thought it would every time someone felt moved enough to chuck a few quid in my direction. Thank you.

There is, of course, still time if you want to add to the final total.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you have a happy and prosperous 2015.

UPDATE: Total amount raised: £2130.00 ... including Gift Aid: £2501.26 - thank you all so much.


  1. I've found that one of the best things about being sober is the lack of ANGER. I still get cross from time to time, obviously, but it's a slow burn kind of cross, a gradually building long does alcohol stays in your system

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