Birthdays and Heroin

So, after another one of those weekends when B and I have just had so much fun, here comes another week. A new week, a new deadline, new chapters to construct and new character dilemmas to consider. I decided to make Lucy an alcoholic. I toyed with the idea of going all out and make her a junkie, but heroin seems so bloody severe. I’m undecided, so I’ll just keep writing and should I discover that the bitch deserves to be a smack head, I’ll chuck the booze out and throw some syringes at her. We’ll see.

Today’s my dad’s birthday – worth celebrating, as the man is my hero. I don’t know anyone else who is quite as exuberant as he is. I hate terms like ‘larger than life’, but he really is. So funny I’m crying with laughter every goddamn time, so genuine and just himself, not giving a shit what anyone might say about it. He’s where political correctness goes to die. Thought I was bad? Try my dad out for size. He’s landed himself in sticky situations on many an occasion because of barbs he may not have fully thought through. 

The best thing about him is how he owns it though. He may have strong views and he is very black and white, there’s no middle road or room for discussion. Pig headed, you might say. But if he realises he’s been wrong about something, he has the backbone and integrity to hold his hands up and admit it. That’s a strong person. And I’m a huge fan of him, couldn’t wish for a better father and I admire him so, so much. 

Suddenly the weather is glorious, after the let-down that was British Summer 2014. OK, perhaps it’s just yesterday and today we’ll get, but it’s gorgeous out there! The sun shining from a clear blue sky, lovely and warm. It’s one of those afternoons when the devil in me wants to suggest drinks by the river to B, but we had lots of wine yesterday at the polo and then more when we got home, so perhaps self discipline should overrule my Guns’n’Roses streak. It IS Monday. 

Speaking of booze, let’s have a look at Lucy, as I’m spending today on developing her character – I do need to have her more defined and get to know her properly before I can in an authentic manner give an account of her behaviour, reactions and motivations. Of course, with the boozing (or if I do end up with heroin), her motivation is a moot point – as with any addiction, it’s something she can’t control, something that may have started with her own free will but is no longer a free choice.

A good friend was an alcoholic. I’m not using past tense because she is now sober – I’m using past tense because she drank herself to death. She gave me a terrifying insight into her life as a drunk, and we’re not talking a bit of a hangover here. We’re talking withdrawal so bad that on one occasion, one of those few when her husband refused to fetch her alcohol to ease her delirium tremens, she ended up having a fit, biting through her bottom lip in the process. We’re talking a bottle of Jaegermeister before lunchtime. We’re talking stealing, not because she couldn’t afford to buy her poison, but because shops where she lived couldn’t sell alcohol before 11am. 

I have spoken to her when it’s been 9am in her corner of the world, and she’s been slurring, with a sad chuckle admitting she’d started the day with wine. It was harder liqour that she favoured though – I suppose like with anything, an addict will graduate on to larger quantities and stronger. She told me that at times when she wanted to give up, she’d have beer for a few days – three in the morning, several around lunchtime and again, several at night – to wean her off. And from what she told me and from what I witnessed myself, 6-7 beers over the course of a day was nothing for her. 

Amazingly, she somehow managed to function. Well, at least some, if not most, of the time. She had dry patches, or perhaps a more accurate way of describing it would be to say she had patches that weren’t quite as drenched in hard liqour as others.

In terms of Lucy, my friend’s experiences (and how she shared them with me with such brutal and brave honesty) mean that I have a pretty good understanding of alcoholism in particular when it comes to addiction and what it does to people. I understand the cycle, the mind of an addict and the behaviour. So, like with depression, I’m not an expert, but I do think I’m quite well placed to show a journey that makes sense. 


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