Booze February 17, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
No time to think or make anything up for this blogging lark so memory lane it is. Mind you, a heavily prompted and signposted memory lane. Good old commenters have got me there.
So booze. I do occasionally plan to make this blogging business a vaguely organised affair and I write down things I plan to blog about. Three blog-idea squiggles currently adorn the bit of paper in front of me along with a whole load of mildly-disturbing doodles and then a rash of numbers which I’m guessing – I’ve long since forgotten – are calculations about the magnificent sums of money I’m earning… and the even more magnificent sums I owe. I remember a similar previous occasion – though don’t you go thinking my life follows a cyclically treacherous path – when I had a rush of work and great fun doing some equation or other with all my (most pressing and life-threatening) debts on one side and the sums of money I was owed on the other. I threw in a few xs and ys to remind me of school and remembered to change a + to a – when switching sides and, having mentally pencilled in, in addition to all the paid-off debts, ecologically unsound holidays to undemocratic countries, realised I was going to end up left with -9 euros. Alas. Anyway, I hate holidays.
So, yes, booze. Well, one of my three blog-scribbles was booze-related. “Plotting alcoholism,” is what I wrote. Although, to be honest, I’m worried I don’t drink nearly enough. I’m almost permanently sober. And haven’t had a sniff of booze for, ooh, at least 2 days now. Maybe even 3. But I do wonder whether it’s a slippery slope, this natural progression in booze-consumption, or whether it’s even natural at all and I should be worried that I can now drink 80 times more than my 19-year-old self could. I’ve occasionally commented on increased consumption to friends. “Does this equate to alcoholism?” Everyone has answered reassuringly, while adding that, if I am right, then they are alcoholics too.
Anyway, fuck all that. The point of this is to tell a little story which I’ve already told in my comments so I don’t know why the bugger I’m telling it again here. Oh yes, no time to make anything up. Well, AA came up. The 12 steps came up. And my mind was sent careering back to my days as an employee-without-portfolio at a charitable organisation in Raasha. All I knew when I finished university was that I wanted to go and learn Russian, which I hadn’t managed at university, really, so I was prepared to do any old job that came along to get back there. I was originally meant to teach English in some university in some town of no interest but THANK GOD I got out of that and ended up, at a friend-with-huge-shoulders’ suggestion, being the employee-without-portfolio at the charity. And it was the only job I’ve ever really got mildly enthusiastic about. I was a right little hive of activity, trying to organise this and that and network like mad and be an all-round girly swot. I made contact with other folk doing charity work in the city. Wall-to-wall born-again Christians.
“So what took you here?” I asked an extraordinary-looking gentleman who looked as if he hadn’t yet taken his clothes off in a porn-film as we walked towards the project he ran for tearaway teenagers in an insalubrious part of St. Petersburg. “Y’know BeeyaB (he was from one of those bits of America that doesn’t really exist. Kansas or Wyoming or somewhere), I was a-sittin’ (OK, he didn’t say a-sittin’) in ma church and I asked God, ‘God, whatchoo wan’ me to do?’ And God told me to do his work in Russia. Just the same as what happened to you, I gueyess?” I can’t remember how I fudged my answer but it must have passed muster as I was invited along to a conference a few weeks later.
My colleague and I loped along. It was soon obvious that it was a wholly (or holy, take your pick) born-again affair. There were oodles of ‘Praise the Lords!’ shouted, quite a lot of tears and group hugs, lots of stories of people who’d mended their ways and found the Lo(-wa)rd, a few suspicious looks in my colleague’s and my direction that we didn’t seem as enthused as the other participants. But we made it through.
When it wasn’t about group hugs, a mad English woman who did nothing but talk about her periods (much to the Russian translator’s consternation) and shouting, things did actually get discussed. And we all scribbled furiously as the AA 12-steps thing was explained to us. It was a lively session. The Russians had plenty of questions about alcoholism and how to treat it. A nice, beardy, long-haired, long-collared gent who also seemed to have ended up there by accident piped up, “How you deal with white fever?” Cue whispers about how best to translate the term from Russian into English. Murmurs and knowing nods amongst the Russians. Yes, white fever. That was the knottiest and thorniest alcohol-related problem of all. A pause for people to gossip amongst themselves and exchange white-fever tales as the translator tried to get across to the American lady conducting the whole thing what ‘white fever’ was. She was, of course, unshakeable and imperturbable – she’d been around (Wyoming), after all – but I did notice her eyes getting ever wider as the translator made himself more clear…
For white fever, ladies and gentlemen, (and please don’t anyone read the comments to the last post) is when you go on such a massive bender that you go stark-raving mad. Isn’t that marvellous? I’ve still got so much to learn.