Oh the wonders of A.A. Gill. I love, love, love him, love his writing. I have always loved his writing.. right from back when I was living in London in the late 90's reading his columns in the Sunday Times.
Back then I had no idea (or didn't care) that he was an alcoholic in recovery. Why would I? I was boozing up a storm myself! But over the years I've become dimly aware of that fact.. and now of course it looms large in my mind when I think of him. He's a sober superstar!
And now he has a memoir out about his drinking! I was warned by an online buddy that 'Pour Me: A Life' wouldn't satisfy as a recovery memoir.. and A.A. himself says on page 8 "Let's get one thing straight, this is no faith-infused pulpit tale of redemption. This isn't going to be my debauched drink-and-drug hell, there will be no lessons to learn, no experience to share, there won't be handy hints, lists, golden rules ... I have no message, no help". Consider myself warned....
No need. I have absolutely loved this book and found it hugely powerful, very insightful and moving. He has such a clever way with words, such a brilliant way to convey the realities of living with addiction.
On waking up: "It's not a simple transition. It's not how you wake up, like turning the key in the ignition - a couple of coughs and you're ticking over in neutral. A drunk's awakening has layers and protocols. There is a great deal of spare and lonely emotion that has to be acknowledged, folded up and buried between sleep and consciousness."
Spare and lonely emotion. Oh yes, I know it well.
And this: "Booze is a depressant, a close relative of anaesthetic. The symptoms of getting drunk are like those of being put out for an operation - initially, fleetingly, it offers a lift, a sense of transient joy, of confident light-headed freedom, it's a disinhibitor; relaxes your shyness and natural reserve so you can feel socially optimistic in a room, can make a pass, tell a joke, meet a stranger. But this is just the free offer to snag a punter. Drink is, at its dark, pickled heart, a sepia pessimist. It draws curtains, pulls up the counterpane. It smothers and softens and smoothes. The bliss of drink is that it's a small death."
A small death. Death by a thousand sips. Thank fucking goodness I stopped killing myself with that shitty liquid.
And this: "Alcoholic despair is a thing apart, created by the drink that is a depressant, but also the architect of all the pratfall calamities that fuel it. Alcohol is the only medication the drunk knows and trusts, a perfectly hopeless circle of angst, and it is all powered by a self-loathing that is obsessively stoked and fed. And it's that - that personally awarded, vainly accepted disgust - that makes it so hard to sympathise with drunks. Nothing you can say or do comes close to the wreaths of guilt we lay at our own cenotaph."
How can this man write. Wonderful! Highly recommended.
Love, Mrs D xxx