Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pour Me...

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


  1. By leaving out all the details about how he got sober it's as though he's saying that it's a personal, private journey and something you have to find your own way through. One man's way of getting sober is different from another's and that's why he can't impart any advice because the way he got sober may not be helpful to someone else. Some people just don't like to be the sort of people that give advice. It's as though he's saying: don't follow my example, I'm not the sort of person you want as a role model. Fair enough, it's his call, it's his book and that's the way he wanted to write it. I'm pleased you enjoyed it, I fully did too. He references his poor memory from his drinking days and from before his drinking days, as though the alcohol wiped out everything, and I used to really worry about the damage alcohol had done to my memory, so I'm glad to know that a successful writer has that problem too! ..........I do wonder how it was for him getting sober though... or maybe I don't... maybe I already know.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm not much of a fan of the standard redemption narrative, but I do love good writing. xo

  3. Hi Mrs D, I'm a lovely lurker and have really benefited from your reading recommendations. I have one for you. "A Manual for Cleaning Women" by Lucia Berlin. She was an alcoholic and this writing is as good as Anne Lamott!

  4. Thanks for this, I'll buy it. Love a good writer, especially one that's lived an interesting life

  5. This is so funny Lotta as I have a review of this book coming up on my blog soon too and I chose the exact same quote from within it!! Great minds hey? :) xx

  6. If you get the chance have a read of 2 of Nikki Sixx's (base guitarist for Motley Crue and Sixx AM) books.
    "This is gonna hurt"
    "The heroin diaries"
    Includes a whole heap of alcohol driven 'problems' he dealt with and overcame.

  7. Thanks for the recommendation - I'll put it on order. X

  8. It sounds interesting!
    I like your quote, "Death by a thousand sips."

  9. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I have to agree with Mr. Tea above. I like that the idea behind it may be that this really is a personal journey. No one can honestly, really help you, but yourself. You have to make the decision. You have to do the work. You can get ideas and input and tips and inspiration from others, but at the end of the day, you are still sitting with just yourself and all of the hard work is a personal journey that you have to be ready for.
    I am currently experiencing this now as I am writing a blog documenting my journey. It has literally taken me 3 years of tips, tricks and inspiration to finally quit. And here I am. Actually doing it. I'll have to read this book. Thanks for the insight.

  11. Hey Lotta
    I live in NZ, I stopped drinking almost 3 years ago which is awesome!!! Last week I was at my local library and only had a few minutes to grab a book before they closed. I grabbed your book off the nearest shelf (I hadn't even read the cover, but I was desperate for anything to read that night as its how I prep myself to sleep). Anyway my point was to say I admire your open honesty in the book, and putting yourself out there. I've always seemed to have someone or something come along at just the right time to spur me on when life gets tough and just want to say thank you.