I have just completed a one month Dryathalon.  I won’t tell you exactly why I took a month off booze.  Your imagination will never quite match the actual incident and I would rather not mention my lively dance moves, the rising horror on my wife’s face and the bill for a broken table? I am told that my “Rhumba” could be compared to a human wrecking ball rather than an interpretive dance. I am tempted to blame it on the boogie, but it was probably the bottle of Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc. So hence the self-imposed thirty day exile.

Challenge one as a rookie dryathelete involved a sushi restaurant and a couple of drinking buddies. In my defence I had little experience of non-alcoholic drinks in restaurants. So with a self –righteous flourish I ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri, incidentally this does not compliment raw fish by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I sat there cautiously sucking this sugary, slushy umbrella topped concoction through a thin, face puckering straw accompanied by a rather withered expression whilst my mates tucked into a more tempting Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2011. It subsequently occurred to me that the last time I had encountered anything pink and virgin was as a spotty 16 year old some three and a half decades before, with a similar unsettling result. Together with my thoughts and disturbingly lucid memory I was able to drive home without anything embarrassing happening.

Let’s face it Chaps, the restaurant industry does not accommodate temporary temperance at all. A dryathelete in a month of self-denial is familiar with the delights of a well matched combination of wine and food, paired enthusiastically by a skilled sommelier.

Ask our wine expert what hooch free alternatives he is going to suggest. Chances are he will dangle his Kanonkop Kadette under your flaring nostrils with a “Vin-dictive” sweep.  An order of coke or rock shandy does not quite cut the mustard. Nor does Alcohol free beer that tastes like liquid cardboard or sweet sparkly grape juice. Restaurants are happy to accommodate any diet or food fad with alternatives, whilst the frustrated dryathelete is forced to imbibe on still or sparkling. Frankly, it’s enough to drive a man to drink.

Though I’m not going to give up over 30 years of practice and dedicated study to permanently join the ranks of the teetotallers. But I can recommend the health benefits of a month off the hard stuff. Your liver starts to recover, your clarity of thinking improves. It’s good for weight loss, unless you drink strawberry daiquiris. And, the two day hangovers are a thing of the past. Also it breaks the binge drinking habit which is simply a legal way to introduce massive doses of poisonous toxins into your body.

Don’t get me wrong here, if you have a seriously bad relationship with the bottle I recon you give up and never go back. But, for the average South African social drinker it is probably a lot healthier to follow medical advice and have one or two glasses of wine or beer a day instead of fitting the week’s quota into a Friday night.

My one month of devoted temperance made me grasp the raw truth that I don’t need booze to have a personality, it makes no difference what so ever. I am still the same dull, somewhat opinionated bore. My dancing has not improved either. Though, for at least a month, no-one gets hurt. ……………


Since writing this article Stephen has taken the plunge and has given up drink! Wonders never cease, but the best decision he ever made (10 months)

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