it may seem an unusual position to adopt, given my attempted (and almost entirely failed) "Dryvember" experiment, and the fact that we are nearly half way through the month, but I wanted to write today about the campaign for people to not drink alcohol in January. What I want to say is: "don't". Or possibly "do". Let me explain.......
Dry January is a campaign run in the UK by Alcohol Concern. For those rebels among you, here is a link to their registration page, and other sections including a list of corporate supporters. Dryathlon is slightly more hip in it's approach, and is undoubtedly* going to stop babies and kittens dying of cancer since its run by otherwise admirable organisation Cancer Research UK, as shown here. All the newspapers have written articles about "going dry" this January, (although using my usual rigorous level of research I haven't read any) and as always, there is much medical opinion flying around to support it. So who can resist?
Well, I can for one. Why? Because I used to work in a real ale off license. December was far and away our most profitable month, whilst in January it was hardly worth being open. So as to restrict the level of impact on sales figures it was often necessary to combine, for our own records at least, the earnings of both and divide them in half. January was the only month we ever had a week where we didn't sell a single pint of real ale. January was a millstone round our necks.
This phenomena continues to exist outside of pressures on pub attendance such as the smoking ban, drinkers preferring to stay at home, and previous vast increases in the price of beer. January now even more so, haunts pubs like a jaundiced spectre of temperance led regret, that seeks to undermine the hard work of the year before, and start the new year off on a low.
A friend of mine recently said he was giving up alcohol for January. He wasn't doing it as part of a charity campaign, but he noticed his friends were doing it and wanted to join in. I'm not for a second suggesting that my pub and bus stop learnt medical acumen stretches to doubting the benefits of a dry month, but I do know that January is not the month to do it. Someone who works in one of Sheffield's numerous real ale pubs said he had friends who'd made the same threat, sorry, promise. His response had been "well, I wonder if there's some way I can go and fuck up your business in January as well". He was joking, of course. Sort of.
No-one is suggesting you should, say, drink to excess at Christmas and then carry on a booze fueled orgy of over indulgence into January. What I am saying is, do continue to go to the pub, and keep money running through the tills of the places you would expect to drink in, or outside of, when the summer sun comes.
Last year we had the counter campaign of Drinkuary, this year possibly something like Tryuary or Dampuary exists. In truth, all we need to do is drink in January as we would at any other time.
*this is an example of exaggeration. And you are more likely to contribute to closing a pub where a cancer patient drinks by not drinking in it.....