That’s one of the greatest lessons for the rookie teetotaller – how isolated you feel from the cut and thrust and frivolity of general life. My husband got a round in at a bar the other day and came back with a tray of vodkas and chasers and beers and managed to forget I even existed.
I imagine vegans and the hard-of-hearing have to cope with similar feelings of being overlooked: booze binds us together in its convivial embrace.
You arrive at a friend’s house for supper (a bottle of rioja under your arm) and the first question will be, ‘What are you having?
’ When the answer is, ‘Just elderflower, thanks’, you’ve already marked your card. You’ve shown your team colours and everyone knows you’re on the bench.
For nearly two years, I haven’t touched a drop (bar the half of lager I had one evening, just for the hell of it and hang the consequences).
‘The problem is women are doing this every night, which means their liver gets no chance to recover. And perhaps my body simply decided enough was enough.
Just lately, we discovered that middle-aged professional women are for the first time consuming more alcohol than teenage drinkers – and experts warn that older women are becoming the greatest burden on the NHS due to alcohol-related conditions, including stroke, liver disease and cancer.