The Dry By: Elaine Lutton

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This article will not be a critique of that excellent crime novel by Jane Harper, nor will it be about the recently released Australian film starring Eric Bana which I would urge you all to attend.

I read the novel several years ago whilst I was visiting my son in Melbourne, on his recommendation. He is an avid reader of fiction, there is always a book beside his bed. As a man, he is a far cry from the little boy who once told me that reading was a sport for girls!

No, the dry I am referring to is my very own “dry”, my attempt to give up the demon drink for the entire month of February.

“Why?” you might ask. In my case, the lead up to Christmas, Christmas itself, New Year and then my influx of visitors had led to an intake of alcohol way beyond that recommended by the Australian Medical Council and I was determined to correct this fall from grace and so prove to myself that I did not have an addictive personality. As an extra incentive, I had a referral for a blood test that I had been carrying around for the past two months or so, and I desperately wanted my results to impress my lovely doctor. I knew it could be done as my record for abstinence had stretched for eight and a half weeks on a previous occasion for differing reasons.

I mentioned to a friend that I would not be having a glass of red wine or “bubbles” with her as February was going to be my Lenten month. She merely laughed in what I considered to be a very unfeeling fashion and pointed out that I had chosen a good month for it, February being the shortest month of the year. This had never crossed my innocent mind but I did inwardly congratulate myself on the wisdom of my choice.

Yes, choice, and that might be the difference because I do have friends who are on a lifetime dry for a variety of reasons. None of them are “wowsers” and several still have their tongues hanging out when a festive season comes around. I unreservedly admire their fortitude and am at a loss as to how I might cope in these circumstances. Very badly, I suspect. There is light at the end of my particular tunnel but theirs is a lifetime sentence.

I was fortunate though, in that I am old enough for no-one to have heard of the perils of drinking champagne, eating soft cheeses and salamis, the consuming of oysters and even soft-boiled eggs when I was pregnant. Heavens above, I was even known to smoke the very occasional cigarette. Poor girls nowadays get very disapproving stares if they appear to be in an interesting condition and are seen to be so much as sniffing at the contents of their partner’s glass. And a nine-month dry term is not all they get for their night of fun and frivolity, there is the business of breast-feeding the resultant babe with the lengthening, not shortening, of the sentence for good behaviour. Most unfair. I am totally amazed that the human race manages to continue! What a breed of stalwart women we have raised!

Not for one minute would I encourage the prospective Mothers of our Nation to disregard these very necessary warnings; what has been learnt cannot be unlearnt. It is just that I am grateful for my ignorance during my time of fecundity.

I once, very unwisely, confessed to my drinking whilst I was pregnant with my children. My son exclaimed, in what I hope was mock horror, “You mean I would have been even more handsome and intelligent!” He really is a very modest fellow!

At the time of writing this, it would seem I have eight days, nineteen hours and thirty minutes approximately to go before I can front up to the local vampire clinic and get them to take a sample of the red stuff and scour it for any traces of past or present wickedness. Not that I am counting of course! It will then only remain for me to visit my lovely G.P. (see above) and receive his congratulations on being an exceptionally well-behaved young lady.

After this, I can hasten home, retrieve all the bottles I have hidden from myself, assuming I can remember where I placed them, and, NO! You thought I was going to say, get plastered, didn’t you? I have no intention of undoing all the good work I have achieved at such cost, but I do have an important birthday luncheon of a friend to attend the next day, and I shall allow myself a celebratory glass of Bubbles in honour of the occasion.