Sober update: yes, still sober!

When I gave up alcohol for the year (at first I stipulated that I could drink when abroad, but then I vetoed that and decided to actually give up completely), I thought that I’d document the journey on here regularly. Giving updates every month at least.

I don’t really know why there’s been the silence on here – why I haven’t written more about the no booze life. It probably would have saved a lot of conversations because I still find myself talking about it, and being questioned about it, a lot – being a 27-year-old non-drinker does make you the object of fascination. Which, in itself, I think says a lot about the society (and its relationship with drinking) we have both carved and inhabit.

I don’t mind talking about it – by the way – the above isn’t a don’t question me! But, I do find it interesting that not drinking is so interesting…if you get me?

Anyway, the last update was in St Lucia – 6 weeks’ sober. Now here we are at the end of August and I’m 8 MONTHS’ SOBER. Over half a year. Not a drop since 11.45pm on the 31st of December 2015. Many people think that my radio silence was because I succumbed to the bottle – but, nope – still sober!

The reasons for giving up are listed on my 1st of January post, so I won’t go over those again. Just scroll down the page (should you be interested). What I’ll discuss now is the journey (why does ‘journey’ always sound pretentious?) and the questions that most people ask.

Has it been really hard?

Honestly, for me, it really hasn’t. I should probably mention that I didn’t give up alcohol due to a dependency or addiction. Mind you, if you are drinking every week/most days, I don’t think you can really say that you aren’t slightly dependent on it until you do try and give up.

If – for instance – I was meeting friends for a drink mid-week, drink would be synonymous with alcohol. I wouldn’t go to the local and order a soda water…we’d order a glass/bottle of wine. I think I always thought I could take it or leave it – but I would always take it- so until giving up, I couldn’t 100% say that I could leave it.

But now I can.

Have you been tempted to drink?

Yes, I have. Not to the brink – but there have been a three times that I have been tempted.

The first was on a family/friends ski trip back in March. And no, I wasn’t gagging for a jaeger bomb at apres ski – in fact, being able to use the year of sobriety (and already being three months in) was a welcome excuse not to drink those revolting concoctions.

It was when the family and our friends were out to supper. My father had brought one of his good friends on the trip, who was a wine buff and consequently ordered some seriously nice wine – so my siblings and friends told me. There was one particular bottle of red on the table that my friend, who was sitting right next to me, was drinking. It smelled incredible. And I’m not going to lie – I would have loved a glass. (I actually had a similar experience of this temptation – where I just wanted one glass – of an Aperol Spritz in Italy, and also a small beer in France).

The second temptation was a different type. For about two weeks at the end of April, due to stress, deadlines, long hours and work taking over my entire life, I wanted to go out and get properly shitfaced. I wanted to go on an absolute bender; to forget about everything for a bit, to escape, to fall into the welcome abyss of drunken incoherence. To drink until I blacked out. Blacked it all out.

I didn’t though, and instead I took up more regular tennis lessons and bashed out the stress on court instead. And, after a couple of weeks, the sensation passed.

In terms of these types of temptations – the getting absolutely shitfaced urges – there are better ways to deal with it. Even though you’re going to get the immediate release, you’re probably not going to feel better in the morning – the stresses will still be there and they’ll just be accompanied by a horrid headache.

The third was after meeting a really nice guy, who – praise the lord – I actually fancied (I swear the older you get, the more difficult it gets to properly fancy someone, the crushes you used to get – those all-consuming emotions – seem to fade away with the years. There’s a depressing aside for you).

Anyway, back in June I clocked said guy at a festival and immediately said to my sister – ‘who is that?’ That kind of initial – yes, that guy is hot. As luck (or perhaps my sister put in a word – I don’t actually know) would have it, later that night said guy – let’s call him X – came over and said…Actually, I’ll move this to dialogue now – it’s probably easier.

X: “Hey, can I get you a drink?”

(Me – in head – ‘Oh my god, it’s the fit guy.’ ‘Oh he’s asking you for a drink, oh say something!’)

Me: No.

X: Oh, ok.

(Me – in head – ‘What the f— are you doing? Do you realise what you’ve just said? How rude that sounds? Save the situation! Save it now!’)

Me: I mean, not because I don’t want one. It’s because well, actually, I don’t drink. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything don’t worry *awkward laugh* – it’s because I’ve given up for the year. Just you know for work purposes; basically I left my job last year to concentrate on my business – and you know, I decided that I couldn’t afford to be hungover, so gave up. Also, I’d been drinking for about a decade – and well our generation didn’t really get into drinking lightly, it was more ‘let’s neck a bottle of vodka in a field’, so I was quite interested in seeing what the human body could actually feel like without alcohol. So, yeah, that’s why I said no. I’m Alice by the way.

This guy, this poor guy. He’d come over to ask if a girl wanted a drink and instead got a pile of word vomit from a demented loose cannon.

Though he did look slightly bewildered by my lengthy tale – one that he clearly hadn’t banked on – somehow, probably sheer manners, he didn’t turn and run for the hills.

X: Would you like a soft drink? How about a ginger beer?

Me: Oh, yes. That would be nice.

He bought me a ginger beer (a non-alcoholic one) and we chatted for a bit. And then he left. To be fair, I was being quite dull – I’m not saying that not-drinking makes you dull by the way – but it does mean that at around 12.30/1am you do tend to get pretty tired (well, I find I do) because you don’t have all the alcohol sugars giving you that buzz.

Back in my tent, I got really cross with myself (Urgh, if I’d been drinking then I would still be awake, I could have got drunk, we’d probably have kissed. I never fancy anyone and now I’ve just f-ckd it up because I’m too tired because I’m not drinking), and part of me was tempted to go back to the party and get pissed and kiss him.

I seem to have gone off on quite a tangent with that third temptation to drink. Hope you enjoyed that story. I should add, that I turned being pissed off into being proactive, and messaged him the following day – which led to a sober and really rather nice date.

Do people become really boring when they’re drinking and you’re not?

No and yes.

I have a great time with friends up until around 11.30pm (if we’ve started at say 7pm). We’re friends for a reason – because we like similar things, have fun memories – the alcohol doesn’t make us friends. We met sober, became friends sober. Yes, we’ve had great times getting pissed together – but I’m still going to get along with you without booze.

It’s just a group of friends hanging out and talking about entertaining things, reminiscing and sharing anecdotes.

But at about 11.30pm – and this is the ‘yes’ part of the question – people start telling the same anecdotes again and again and again. Or, indeed, if it’s a debate, they start saying the same argument again and again and again. It’s actually quite fascinating how small the time lapses become, too. It’s not one point and then making it again 20 minutes later, it can literally be seconds after finishing it. Sort of like you’re surrounded by a school of Doris (the fish from Finding Nemo – or more recently Finding Dori – with short-term memory problems).

Have people tried to pressure you drink?

Yes. At the start, most people wanted to push me off the wagon. ‘Oh go on, you’ll never do a year.’ ‘Oh, stop being so boring.’ (FYI: being a non-drinker doesn’t mean you’re boring. Also, why is it that so many people want to make you drink? It’s like you’ve rebelled and they want to put you back in line.)

When I hit about three months, though, it stopped. People recognised that I was serious and it was more ‘kudos to you’, ‘wow, that’s impressive’, ‘she means it’.

I don’t think I’ll have people pushing me for the rest of the year, for the remainder of my sober challenge. But, come New Year, I imagine they will be back with vengeance…Which leads neatly on to the last question…

Will you drink again?

At the moment, I’m not sure. It’s 50/50.

The reasons not to drink again:

Life as a non-drinker has treated me well. Apart from ginger beer gate (which I then rectified), I don’t feel like I’ve missed out.

As a non-drinker, you can get so much more done – not having a hangover ever is INCREDIBLE. And I don’t feel like not drinking alcohol affects my personality (even though it does have an effect my sleeping patterns).

The reasons to drink again:

I do really like the taste and warming sensation of a nice glass of red wine.

I also really like the refreshing taste of a cold beer.

I still – annoyingly – see the appeal in getting obliterated from time to time. Even though I know that it’s not going to actually make me feel better in the long term.

Conclusion:

Despite the subhead, I won’t conclude properly today. After all, I still have another four months to go. But I think, if I do drink again – it will be in a different way. I have definitely started to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol and indeed British society’s relationship with alcohol.

I think that it’s a weird thing – how it’s just so ingrained in all of us and also how we use it. We use it for everything.

Alcohol to celebrate. Alcohol to commiserate. Alcohol to relieve. Alcohol to grieve.

It’s odd.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Eight months sober. Four to go.

I’m signing off. Until next time…

 

 

 

 

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Why I’m going dry in 2016

The new year is always the time for resolutions. Lists are made: stop biting fingernails, go to the gym three times a week, get a boyfriend, see the grandparents more…and so on and so forth.

Sticking to them all rarely, if ever, happens. So this year, I’ve decided to give myself just the one resolution – and it’s not about doing, but rather not doing. It was an easy one to pick, too. I’ve been harbouring the urge to try it for quite some time. I have resolved not to drink alcohol (while in the UK) for the duration of 2016.

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When I posted my ambition on Facebook, it was met with various comments including “booooo”, “this sounds like a crap idea”, and “I was once told by a very wise old man not to trust anyone who doesn’t drink...”.  Consequently, I thought I should explain my reason for going sober.

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Here it is: 2016 is going to be a pivotal year for my growing business, Blogosphere Magazine, and by the end of it, I want to be able to look back and know that I have worked as hard as I possibly could with – at all times – a fully functional brain. I don’t want to waste any time feeling hungover.

That was the catalyst for my sober decision. But, once I’d made it, I started thinking about other reasons I want to abstain from alcohol.

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Now in my mid-twenties, it struck me recently that I’ve been drinking for around a decade. Over 10 years. (I know, where has time gone?)

My voyage into the bottle didn’t start softly, either. It wasn’t a case of the occasional glass of wine…more of eyeballing shots of vodka to avoid the school breathaliser. This was swiftly followed by three years at the University of Leeds, where – in an attempt to get on the same wavelength as the hordes of people dosed up to the eyeballs (what is it with eyeballs?) on plant fertiliser – I binge drank.

Then came London, here the drinking calmed down. It wasn’t about getting wasted, it was about relieving stress. Working at a newspaper, where life was a series of intense deadlines, a glass of wine became synonymous with the end of the day. The work/life divide was represented by the fridge opening, the bottle coming out and having a cool glass of white wine. Red in the winter.

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Statistics show that career driven women are drinking more than ever before. Indeed, a study carried out by the London School of Economics reported that “The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns.”

But, hang on, this wasn’t supposed to be an AA-esque post…And I should add that I don’t drink excessively all the time. But in the last 10 years the longest I’ve had without an alcoholic drink has been 17 days (last dry January), and I’m quite intrigued to know what the human body could actually feel like when not ingesting alcohol for a long period of time. Indeed, an ex-colleague gave up drinking in September 2014 and after about three months bumped into her doctor on the street. He took one look at her and said “So you’ve given up alcohol?”.

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There’s the ‘career’ and the ‘genuine intrigue’ for this resolution. But there are other reasons, too…

  1. 99% of all things I have ever regretted in life happened whilst under the influence.
  2. I don’t want to have memory blackouts and wake up not knowing what I did the night before.
  3. The fear, which results from the aforementioned, is not something I want to experience again. Self-loathing on a weekly basis is not healthy.
  4. I want to have full weekends – doing interesting things – and not spend half off them in bed, demolishing packets of paracetamol in an attempt to feel normal again. I just want to feel normal – all the time.
  5. I want to go on a run, and then another, and then another, and build up fitness. I want to do this without ruining the progress with a huge night out at the weekend and then having an alcohol stitch when I go back to the gym.
  6.  I don’t want to eat fast food – when sober I don’t even like fast food. The only time I eat it is when drunk or excessively hungover.
  7. I don’t want to wake up with unexplained bruises on my body.
  8. I’d rather not wake up at 5am at least once a week and roam around my flat naked trying to find a glass of water for a thirst that is unquenchable.
  9. I do not want to scroll through my phone the morning after a big night and find that I’ve sent inappropriate messages to men. Or see that I’ve made Facebook calls. (Yes, they exist).
  10. I want to keep my belongings. Not lose purses, phones…and dignity on nights’ out.
  11. I don’t want to wake up with make-up all over my face, and eyelids glued shut with gunky mascara. And a mouth that feels like the desert.
  12.  I want to spend my money on making memories, rather than on drinking to have no memories.

There are probably many more. I’ll have a think! But that’s enough to get started with.

I’m feeling pretty determined…but then it is day one. Anyway, good luck to anyone else out there giving it a go. Do let me know how you get on – and your reasons for abstaining.

Alice X

 

Journalism took over, but now I’m back

Hi Audley Chronicle.

It’s me. Alice. The one who used to write here a lot. Like, pretty much every day. And now has left you rotting in the ether – despite paying for the domain name. What a waste.

Anyway, the reason for the lack of content, the failure to put fingers to keyboard, is because my witterings were being published elsewhere.

I started this blog to get into journalism. And it happened. A means to an end – and all that malarkey. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t realise how much I would love it – and eventually miss it. So, though it’s not New Year, I’ve made a resolution. I am returning to the Audley Chronicle. To the routes. Heck, I may even start a YouTube channel.

That’s what’s going to be happening. Here is a breakdown of what has happened.

In July, I had my big break in the newspaper. I was the first journalist to fly with Carol Voderman. She, quite literally, launched my writing career. It was just going to be online, but then ended up being a full right-hand lead…and, wait for it, on the blooming’ front cover. BEST DAY EVER!

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Pretty schwwwweeeet. Here’s the link to the story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/10954486/Commencing-countdown-Carol-Vorderman-takes-to-the-skies.html

Anyway, after that, I had finally broken the writing wall and was allowed to go off and live the dream. Write, write, write. But, as it always the way, when you’re off doing so many things, you run out of time. You have to make sacrifices – and I was writing, and getting that writing fix, elsewhere. So the urge to write here…the guilty pangs of not updating…subsided.

But now, I am no longer always behind the desk. No, I wasn’t fired. This does kind of sound like it’s going down in that vein…No, I have just changed careers within journalism. I am a writer! I write for a living. Wahoo! Also, other things, but I’ll fill you in on that in due course…

So, what else has there been? What other literary adventures have I been on? Quite a few…

Most recently though was a trip to Paris to interview will.i.am…

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/celebritynews/11130795/will.i.am-I-sit-down-peeing.html

Link above.

Anyway, that’s a very brief overview. But, really, the point of this blog is to say ‘hello’ and that I’ll be on here again. I will be updating. I will be active. This will be the diary of my adventures…stay tuned.

Ta X

The #nomakeupselfie

Social media nominations have exploded in 2014. January was dogged by #NEKnominate; the ridiculous pint-guzzling game (‘neck’ a drink and ‘nominate’ a friend to do the same) which, within two weeks, plagued all public forums and quickly escalated from drinking beer to ingesting lethal concoctions of spirits –claiming the lives of five.

In February, a group of South Africans replaced the dangerous trend with the #RAKnomination; where you showed a stranger a ‘random act of kindness’.  From baking cookies for the elderly to paying for someone’s supermarket shop, RAKS soon peppered Twitter feeds and Facebook threads. But they too, as of last week, have been replaced.

The end of March has brought with it a new social media sensation – the #nomakeupselfie (a picture of oneself wearing no make-up and then texting BEAT to 70007 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK – then nominating someone else to do the same). ‘Finally using a social media trend to make a real difference’, I thought as my newsfeed brimmed with bare faces. Good on them. Well done.

But then I was nominated.

Now, a quick snap sans make-up sounds easy enough. Scrub off the slap and take the selfie. Simple. I thought the same… until I removed my face paint, looked in the mirror and then back at the picture of the girl who had nominated me. She had no make-up on and looked absolutely stunning. Yes, yes, I know, the whole point is to raise money for people suffering from a hideous and cruel disease, it’s not about looking good. But, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I realised it wasn’t just her that looked like they’d walked off the catwalk. These weren’t #nomakeupselfie [s], these were #seehowgoodilookwithoutanymakeuponselfies.

Bright-eyed, long-lashed, flawlessly-skinned – was this really what my friendship group look liked naturally? I took my first selfie, yuck. Another, cripes. One more, my goodness it was grim. Before I knew it, I had racked up 23. Not one of which would I have shown a friend, let alone shared on a public  forum.  Was I really so much rougher than my peers?

I thought about it long and hard…but then started to notice some similarities between these glossy pics of my friends. Trends within the trend. An hour and lots of research later, I’d created the perfect guide. So if you’re, like I was, scared of the #nomakeupselfie – do not fear! With these tricks, you’ll be sorted:

Photo: Thanks for the nomination bex and Jewers! Tilly Coles, Camilla McConnell, Anna Webster and Olivia Crane - you have 24 hours :)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/10721257/Ten-rules-for-the-perfect-nomakeupselfie.html

 

 

How to: Tramp Chic

They may look like they’ve been dragged through a bush backwards, but don’t be fooled – this unkempt look actually takes time. Dressing down and emulating the Caras, Ritas and Kristens of this world is no mean feat. Be warned, it takes a lot of effort to look like you’ve made none. Still keen? Well here are my top 10 tips, inspired by three years at the University of Leeds, on mastering the #noeffort look.

 

1 First things first. Put that Jack Wills gilet in the bin. You may have lived in it for the last five years, but your public school days are behind you – and must stay that way. You need to look, smell, nay ooze the impoverished vibe. And everyone knows that gilet cost you £115.

 

2 Get down to a charity shop asap. Keep your eyes peeled for the oversized Eighties throwbacks. Bright geometric shapes, tick. Huge holes, tick. Knitted monstrosities, tick. Item of clothing someone died in, big fat tick.

 

3 Burn your loafers. No-one in their right mind can master #noeffort in loafers. I repeat – torch them. Instead, get online and design yourself a pair of super-sweet high-tops. The more in your face the better. Lime green and purple? Super sick blud. You could even get your name embellished on the back, or, better still, some drug slang. A ‘Meow’ on each foot. You know, like ‘Meow, Meow’ – nothing says ‘street’ like Class B narcotics.

 

Throw that TRESemmé away, you won’t need it. Shampoo is now a thing of the past. You’re not going to pull off a top knot with silky locks now are you? Matted, dank and veering towards mini-dreads is the wig you’ll require to fit in. Remember – the hairdresser, scissors and conditioner are now your foes.

 

But good news – you have a new friend! Say welcome back to the scrunchie. Grab your lank lid and whack it in one of these bad boys. The higher on your head, and the messier, the better.

Though not part of one’s physical wardrobe, one’s voice is still part of one’s appearance. You must kill off any enunciation. The nonchalant drawl is your new tongue. You may have gone to Eton, but you must now speak like you come from the ghetto. Defer to words such as ‘maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate’, ‘siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick’ or ‘Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet’ if you find yourself ‘rutting’.

 

Time for the skip again. This time for your trousers. Bye bye bootleg. Trackies (tracksuit bottoms) and skinny jeans are in. But – and this is essential – they must have a waist that is at least 8 inches too big. This is, of course, because you don’t wear them around your waist. You don’t even wear them around your hips. No, trousers must be fastened below your backside. You need to have the entirety of your boxer shorts on show –you’ll be quite literally dressed down. Ace.

 

Make-up. Heroin-chic, is what they called it. When you’ve slept in make-up and been too wasted to wash it off. That’s what your make-up needs to look like all the time. Big dark smudges of eye-liner (both above and below the eye) and clumpy mascara – which should never be removed, just added to. So fit.

 

Fags. You may not be a smoker, but to complete this look you need to be. Marlboro Lights? I hear you say. Don’t be crazy – Camel Blues would be a pushing it. No, for this look, you need to hit up the rollies. Get that pack of baccy and rizlers and roll up people. Preferably by a bus stop or some other form of public transport – that way as many people as possible will see you. You’ll look so sweet.

 

10 Finally the key to the ‘so rich you look poor’ look is a tiny ring. Yes, you may look like your homeless, but you need to remind people that this drab metamorphosis is one of choice, not finances. Tah da! Introducing the signet ring! Whack this on your little finger and *taps nose* everyone will know that you are an heir to a whopping estate, have a pad in High Street Kensington and when in London love nothing better than a good ol’ night in Bodos.

Blogging: An Insatiable Addiction

I’m getting annoyed.  The Audley Chronicle started out as an online portfolio of my work, which was constructed as a means to an end: blog to get a job in journalism (that’s what they told me at my post grad).

They were right. What they told me worked. I got the dream job in journalism and achieved my lifelong ambition of getting in print at the Daily Telegraph.  But, here’s the big but, they did not warn me that spending a year blogging could, and most probably would, make an addict of me. Blogging is like a drug – you get withdrawal when you can’t have it. Due to work, my time here is nigh non-existent at the moment, but don’t see that as a good thing, a success story, for my god I miss it. The ingenious road to journalism had a side effect – before I’d got there, I’d turned into a blogger. I love blogging – and not to get somewhere, but blogging for the sake of blogging.

The Audley Chronicle, as well as a currently unsatisfied addiction,  is also my hobby; a place for my literary doodles to sit, for experimentation, for comedy, fun, pictures, life. Yes, an online life, but a life nonetheless. And now this life is dwindling…I hate not being able to write here everyday, or every other day, I miss it. Alas time is waving its little clock hands at me…and I must be off. But hey, that withdrawal is slightly quenched…and before long I hope to be back here more often…

Eddie tired of not being on the blog...
Eddie tired of not being on the blog…

Living Longer, Loving Life

“This generation will be living to 120, seriously, 120,” a high-pitched male, who’s booking my hair-appointment, tells me. I’ve just told him that I’m off to my grandmother’s 90th, which now just doesn’t seem quite as impressive. Indeed, it feels like this summer my Facebook feed has been filled with snaps from 90ths. Whether it’s the quality of medicine, or simply something in the water, I don’t know, but people are living longer. Ninety is the new 80 – impressively old but not on death’s door.

Last Sunday, my grandmother made the transition from octogenarian to nonagenarian and was on flying form. Drinking, joking, laughing – a picture of health.

Her 80th, and 80ths in general, seem to take place during your awkward teen years – you spent the evening sipping coca-cola talking to distant relatives. At 90ths, there are, for obvious reasons, fewer people, and you’re older, allowed to drink and surrounded by first cousins. The aforementioned combination makes for an absolutely brilliant party, which precisely a week ago, is exactly what we had.

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alice, claud

charles and jo

claud and mummy party

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The future isn’t bright…but it is Orange

It’s late August and dusk in Provencal village Callian. In the central square, to the backdrop of a gurgling waterfall, a silver-haired, bow-legged man wobbles towards a music stand clutching an antique violin in his weathered hand. With the other, he presses out a few sheets of crumpled paper inked with treble clefs. He then lifts the instrument, nooks it under his chin and tickles its strings with a horse-haired bow. Notes float through the evening air and he warbles along with them.

 

I sit surrounded by three generations of my kin, sipping a cool glass of rosé and drunk on the atmosphere. Laughter from grandmother, debate from brother, story-telling from father, it is the perfect familial supper. But then shouts of “beep”, “crash” and “nooooo” erupt from the next table, sending my grandmother’s hearing aid into a fizzing frenzy. Wide-eyed, she pulls it from her ear. “What was that?” Across the square, the old French man also stops playing.

 

What it was (this scenario was a week ago), was the sound of a lost computer game, well, a computer game that had just been lost. I looked over, and there, sobbing uncontrollably was a girl who couldn’t have been more than six. In front of her, slammed on the table, was the cause of her histrionics – an Iphone. Next to her – and ignoring her – were her five siblings; every single one of them yielding a form of android. The parents, perched at the other end of the table, conversing with another couple, were unmoved. This, apparently, was their dining norm.

kids on mobiles

 

“The future of family meals,” my father said, raising an eyebrow.

 

“Surely not, this isn’t normal, it can’t be the future, it’s so…” I paused, deliberating over my final word. ‘Irritating’, ‘annoying’, ‘rude’? Yes, it was, but overriding all of this was something else, “it’s so…”, I concluded, “sad.”

 

According to a new study, which reports that now 9% of five-year-olds within the UK have a mobile phone; it looks like sadness is set to be the case. The comparison site uSwitch.com has found that, while the average age to give a child a phone is 11, one in 10 schoolchildren are given a handset at less than half this age.

 

Five-years-old! A phone at five! At that age, I was making dens in the garden, climbing trees to look at birds’ nests, and quarrelling with my siblings, not calling friends from primary school for a gossip, taking selfies, or – beyond contemplation – whipping out an Iphone to play Mario in the middle of supper. My mother would have gone berserk.

 

And I’m happy that she would have done, for my memories of childhood suppers, spent asking questions, laughing and sometimes fighting, are some of my best. It’s where I learnt valuable life skills; holding your own in conversation, finding the opportune moment to speak without interrupting, listening and debating.

 

What will become of the next generation? They may be more technologically adept; they may be able to write code, but there are teenage years for that, adulthood for that, a five-year-old should be playing with their brothers and sisters, not on an Iphone.

 

 

Alas, as the study shows, it appears it’s too late. The future of family meals will not be bright, but it certainly will be Orange…and 02, and EE, and Vodaphone, and 3, and whatever other networks there may be.

       

The Chicken or the Egg complex

Sometimes in life we have to adjust our priorities and give up the old for the new. But sometimes it’s not quite that clear-cut: what if the new was conceived as a plan before the old, wouldn’t the new become the old? And the old the new? Something happening now, but that was planned before the previous plan? Even though the plan, planned after the plan of the new, would make it the new, because the new is happening makes it old, no?

A mind tangler, a brain boggler, a scabrous task if ever there was one – what to do? where to go? how to act? …Where does the loyalty lie…
I was in this predicament yesterday, circumstances led me to a modern-day Hamletian dilemma, ‘to blog, or not to blog,’ that was my question. Distraught at the thought of losing ‘The Audley Chronicle’; my favourite hobby, my online diary, part of my soul (oh a bit of hyperbole never hurt anyone), I sank into a melancholy state of deep thought. I knew what I had to do, but it conflicted with what I wanted to do.
I met a friend and together we roamed the streets of central London. We conversed lightly; the heat, plans, upcoming events. But ‘to blog or not to blog’, well that couldn’t be done without the ever-soothing glass(es) of wine. The dulcet tones if glorious grape being poured into a cooled drinking vessel – what sound is more mellifluous than that?
So we turned down Carnaby Street in search of an outside area to quench our thirst, and take respite from the still abrasive evening heat. Pubs bustled, jovial shouts of after work rendevous(s) wafted through the sticky air, “No, no, no; too loud, too full, look at that one it’s packed” I fussed. But then I spied it, an oasis of calm in loutish London – Kingly Court.

In we went, and as if Fate were there himself, we found ourselves (both food writers) not only at a new restaurant (just 6 days old), but at a new restaurant based entirely on the concept of chicken and eggs – which considering my dilemma on which part of my life really came first, well it couldn’t have been a more apt place to dine.
Welcome to Whyte and Brown an eggciting new eatery perfect for anyone feeling peckish, or anyone in need a place to carry out some free-range thinking…Sorry, I’m done, that’s the last gag I’ll crack…
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Though cooped upstairs (here we go again!), outside was battery packed, our area was delightfully cool; a feat which most restaurants are struggling to master this summer. A friendly, supermodel-figured, auburn-haired waitress seated us, gave our table an extra wipe down and handed us a laminated A3 menu, which we instantly started clucking over. Who knew chicken and eggs could be so versatile? Mains swayed from Light Chicken & Langoustine Pie, Hanoi Chicken Noodle Soup and Twisted Chicken Caesar Salad to Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle (fresh egg tagliatelle), Pollo-Porno Pasta, and even a Lemon Leek Risotto Scotch Egg.
Ever the eggsperimentors we felt lost…not for long though, a new plan was hatched: we’d miss the mains and order an array of starters instead – half a dozen to be precise.
We plucked these from the menu:
Polenta-Crumb Chicken Strips 5.25
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Best thigh meat in golden polenta crumb, with our mellow Garlic Mayonnaise made fresh for dipping. (F)

Half a Dozen Croquette Balls 5.45

croquette balls

Shredded chicken & pancetta, speckled with chives, lemon & melty béchamel. Served with our own Smoky Tomato sauce. (F)

Bangkok-Scotch Egg on Pickled Cucumber Salad 6.25

scotch egg

Minced chicken thigh-meat mixed with lime leaf, coriander, mint, lemon grass, chilli & ginger. A wild soft-boiled centre.

Chicken Liver Paté, Grilled Sourdough & Sprightly Salad 5.75

pate

Big scoop of smooth paté sitting on a board with toast & salad of capers, shallots & parsley.

Pea & Ricotta Poached Egg Bruschetta (V) 5.45

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Crunchy-soft stack of smashed garden peas, ricotta, lemon zest, Parmesan shavings, mint tips & pea shoots. Egg like a sunny cloud on top.

Harissa Hot Wings 5.95

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Baked chilli chicken wings served with caramelised orange wedges, coriander & minty yoghurt dressing. (F)

Well done Whyte and Brown, well done. Everything but the bruschetta was absolutely fantastic, and that was by no means fowl, just a tad bland. The harissa wings fell off the bone with sticky delight, the scotch egg was gooey-centred bliss, and the croquette balls crunchy wonders. This restaurant pulled off the inventive; it took the simple and made the complex, and it did it well – and not too expensively either:

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So gather your brood and get down to Carnaby Street because once this restaurant gets the press it deserves people will flock in…
Kingly Court  Carnaby St, London W1B 5PW
020 3747 9820
Oh and the blog, well sometimes forces above take pity and you don’t have to peck, sorry pick, one or the other after all!
Happy Friday!

The ‘Bailer’

I’ve been pondering the paradox of social media for quite some time – that social media, designed to make people more sociable, actually makes us more anti-social.

Yes, we may be invited to more events; more house parties, dinner dates and pub nights, but the way in which we respond to such invitations is anti-social. If we even respond at all.

It’s the immediacy of online, of texts, of snap chats, of emails; we don’t organise ourselves, or feel that we need to be organised until the last-minute. Back in the day, before the technological noughties, if you said you’d meet someone at a pub at 7pm, you’d meet someone at the pub at 7pm. How different the story is today, how casually we drop the text apologising and saying we’re running 30 minutes late. But are we really sorry? No, if we were sorry, we wouldn’t do it time and time again.

The ‘bailer’ is another phenomenon who has peaked in contemporary times. The ‘bailer’ accepts invitations, whole-heartedly states that they will be in attendance, and then in the final lead up to the event, ‘bails’. Bailers have been known to bail on the day itself, and they normally do this via text. They don’t even have the decency to call – an act that cannot be described as anything but anti-social, especially when paired with a dire excuse, such as  ‘working late’, or a ‘work event’, or ‘forgot I was supposed to be seeing my granny’. All of which I award ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) to. You have enough technology around you to make sure that you don’t forget. Forgetting is not an option. Organise yourself.

A case study: remember my summer in the South of France? Well, during the second week of this trip I got a text message from an invitee. The text message arrived on the Thursday telling me that they wouldn’t be able to make it out – which considering that the other guests had arrived on the previous Sunday, and that this guest was invited the week before them…well, it’s just laughable.

More recently – and indeed the reason for this blog – was Saturday night and a Light Dragoons’ party up in Norfolk. Numerous friends and I were invited to this party; we all said yes. Last Monday hits –a mere five days until kick off – welcome to prime bailing time. The texts flood in; bang after bang after bang, the anti-social shots are fired. Out of the people I was invited with, I was the only one who went.

I admit that leaving home in 35 degree heat (and the allure of a cool swimming pool) and getting into an overheated car to embark upon a 2 hour journey up North didn’t come without complaint. ‘I don’t want to goooo,’ I moaned while turning on the Sat Nav and bidding my puppy farewell, ‘it’s so hot.’ But, I’d made a commitment – and when you make a commitment you bloody well follow it through.

In this case, I cannot tell you how happy I was that I did. What a party! Peter Pan-themed, I’d never been to anything like it before; a man-made miniature lake acted as our dance floor, a ship overlooked us, stationed in which was the DJ, budgies (as in the actual birds) flew around the marquee, fireworks glittered through the sky at midnight and a crocodile rodeo drew in drunken challengers (I have the bruises to prove it). It was a fantastic, incredible, nay epic night.

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And the bailers? Those who fribbled away this wonderful party; perhaps they have bailers’ remorse, but will it stop them in future? I doubt it. Etiquette to them is the rock to Sisyphus – they will never quite get there. So damn you Mark Zuckerburg, damn you Jack Dorsey: you’ve succeeded from behind the safety net of your code and created a world where yourselves and the anti-social thrive.