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For many, the beginning of a new year is horrendous.  There’s the Christmas comedown, the back to work blues and flashbacks of that attempt at breakdancing you performed for that fit boy/lass at New Year’s. 

For me, however, what I dread most about the beginning of January is not really any of the above.  No, what I dread can be summarised in just two words: The Detox.  And it’s not even the doing of one myself – it’s the other people doing it.

Many people get it right – they Detox and keep schtum about it.  This article is not about them.  There is, however, a particular group of Detoxers that we all know (and yes, yes, love as people) but find intensely infuriating for reasons such as these:

1.)  Their need to tell everyone about it

Virtually every meeting with such a Detoxer starts off with the announcement that they are ‘of’ this new state. As if broadcasting a pregnancy, they build up to the declaration, hoping it will incite a burst of enthusiastic congratulations.

I’m not drinking at the moment,’ they tell you, ‘I’m [what’s weird here is that they normally whisper – or worse, mouth] D-e-t-o-x-i-n-g’.

‘And?’ you find yourself asking.

2.)  The Smugness

You meet up with a Detoxer in Week 2 of The Detox and what’s plain is that they’re gagging for a drink.  What’s annoying, however, is that rather than just admit this (which would violate Code One of Detox: To remain in manic state of perpetual happiness) they tell you how wonderful they feel.

You know what?’ they smile, a little too eagerly, ‘I can’t tell you how much better I feel.

‘Really?’ you ask.

Yes,’ they insist.  ‘I don’t feel tired anymore. It’s amazing!  I feel so much more energised, I have buckets of energy, buckets, and you know what?’


 ‘I’ve even thought about taking up Yogo-colonic-alates.  It’s really good for your metabolism – and digestion.’


I’ve also discovered…’


 ‘…that I actually really like water!  It’s so refreshing and my skin is so smooth and my hair is so glossy, and….’

3.)  People who were once fun become hermits – in the month you need them most.

If Detoxers are bold enough to admit they can’t go out without drinking (which is nothing to be ashamed of, as I definitely couldn’t) then they just don’t go out at all.

This means that as a Non-Detoxer, January is largely spent in the company of a bunch of old soaks – one of which, you tell yourself, you certainly are not.

4.)  They try to persuade YOU to Detox

Some Detoxers can’t be satisfied to Detox by themselves so they have to encourage others to do it too.  Possibly to hold their hand throughout the ordeal, but more so they have someone to talk to about it; someone who ‘understands’.

Their way of going about the recruitment however, isn’t to say really useful things like: ‘think how much money you’ll save’, or ‘imagine how damn good that first drink will taste.’  Instead, they make you feel bad about yourself. 

Do you know how many CALORIES are in a glass of wine?’ 

‘No,’ you respond, ‘and I really don’t care.’ 

Astounded, they move on to a carefully memorised fact from an NHS Waiting Room Poster. 

Well then, do you know that by the time you reach 30, your liver will be 50,000 times the average size – akin to that of a 75 year old man who’s been drinking neat vodka since the day he was born.’

If anyone knows anything about Non-Detoxers, it’s that stubbornness IS our DNA.  These sort of irritating Nanny Stateisms are entirely likely to make us drink more than ever before.

5.)   Detoxers consume more alcohol in February because they feel they deserve it.

How many CALORIES are in all that, I wonder?

6.)  But in spite of the above, possibly the thing I loathe most about Detoxers is the horrid feeling that they’re right.  I too should be putting myself through this torture in the worst and most miserable month of the year.  I am unhealthy.  I am weak.  And the knowledge of this really is disheartening.

So, as the protagonist in a film noir, I pour myself an extraordinarily strong cocktail I’d never normally drink – whiskey or bourbon – and stoically gulp it by a rain-soaked window (if there’s one nearby, a mirror will do otherwise), to the soundtrack of something truly depressing, like Casablanca or The Road to Perdition.  I do it to feel better. 

Sadly, it usually works.

Happy New Year

by Beenie Langley