Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Monday, 15 January 2018

Alcohol consumption

Reducing Alcohol Consumption

On December 2nd 2016, my doctor told me I had to stop drinking. It was the second bit of bad news I’d had that day; the first was that I had to go to hospital A & E immediately; my ECG gave cause for alarm.
This is a brief account of my experience in reducing my alcohol consumption. It is written to encourage other males who like their beer and who also want to cut down or cut it out. It may also encourage lady drinkers that perhaps are not alcoholics but perhaps feel they should cut down.
It wasn’t that I was an alcoholic in the sense that I craved booze at all times of the day or frequently binge drank; no it was the fact that I drank, without fail, every day of my life and had been doing so since I took a pub in 1975. Now retired, my favourite time of day was beer o’clock, my 6pm beer, drank as I prepared the evening meal. Usually, I would take a pint, sometimes a bit more with a glass of wine to accompany the meal. Seldom did I drink after dinner, I’d had enough. However, the cumulative effect after forty years of imbibing alcohol, sometimes excessively, was taking its unsensed course. The fatty liver, diagnosed a few years ago was the first clue, general malaise and other symptoms, dismissed as creeping old age, followed.
At first, the thought of giving up alcohol seemed absurd; my consumption, after all, was low, certainly no more, or not much more than that recommended weekly allowance. Alcohol had been my prop all those years in the pub, when facing the public, my customers. Normally reserved, I would become the genial host after the first mouthful of lager in the session, ready to serve and entertain the varied clientele of comics, wits and bores to be found propping up every bar.
Now, without my prop, I feared I would struggle to maintain my already pitiful social persona especially as my family nickname was MOG, standing for ‘miserable old git’.
However, with my wife’s heartfelt support I resolved to have a go, but with the proviso that I wasn’t going to be totally TT. This latter, proved to be important.
The first challenge was the rapidly approaching Christmas and we had company for the festive period. I resolved that if it was to work, I had to want to do it.
The first joint event was the Christmas Eve party in the Emerald Isle, Mojacar, the second such event of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in that bar. My friend drank Guinness, pointedly and repeatedly emphasising his enjoyment, thereby poking fun at my non-alcoholic beers (n-a b) but I persisted. Christmas day we hosted a pre-lunch drink for friends with champagne cocktail for guests and n-a b for me. For Christmas lunch I had a glass of red wine with my Turkey. Somehow I survived the festivities having drunk very little alcohol, emerging at the other end with a quiet satisfaction that it hadn’t been so bad after all. Nevertheless, the feeling that my social life was over couldn’t be shaken. I became indifferent to social occasions, fearing that they wouldn’t be enjoyable without the comforting habit of drink.
I had already stopped the custom of beer o’clock, drinking n-a b when the urge welled and increasingly water. Quickly, I felt that days, weeks had passed without alcohol at home and before long it was the summer and fresh temptations.
We had visitors and I had the occasional pints of alcoholic beer but never to excess. Increasingly, I found that I was becoming less worried about the prospect of drinking alcohol free. The key to my success in curbing my alcohol intake was the promise I made to myself that I could always have a drink; it wasn’t banned. With that in place I always felt that I was in control. As I drive home after a social event I feel pleased with myself, not only that I can drive but also because next day my brain or my liver won’t suffer. Rarely but sometimes I’ve rewarded myself with a treat; a glass of port or a brandy after dinner. But only one; two would be failure.
It must be mentioned here that the improved quality of non-alcoholic beers has been instrumental to my success. Yes, when warm and flat they have a problem with taste and aftertaste, but drunk cold and fresh they are quite palatable and as the year progressed I became more familiar with them. Often available on draught, it’s not bad. It looks like a pint, smells like a pint and almost tastes like a pint. We need to encourage more bars to stock it. Another trick I discovered is to order a pint of regular shandy, periodically topping up with non-alcoholic beers.
By the end of the first year I had consumed in total 15 pints of lager, three glasses of red wine and some odds and sods. I kept a record.
I’m well into my second year now having enjoyed a second Christmas holiday almost alcohol free. The fight is ongoing; temptation is always there and changing circumstances may present other challenges but hopefully we can look forward to a healthier lifestyle.

To summarise:
For those who want to cut down on their alcohol consumption, really want to do it. It’s no good if deep down you don’t.
Drink non-alcoholic beer and learn to enjoy it as much as possible.
Promise yourself that you are not going TT. You’re in control. Allow yourself some ‘treats’ from time to time but only one glass. Discipline.
Remember to congratulate yourself for your abstinence; you’ve earned it.
It does become easier in time.

This programme cannot help those who have a more pronounced alcohol problem. For those who drink at all times of the day or drink spirits or other, stronger drinks, to excess, professional help or joining AA is more appropriate.

Jan 2018

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Gut feelings

A recent article in the Daily Mail.
How human brains are interconnected through a type of 'wi-fi' which explains why people have 'gut feelings'
Prof Digby Tatum of the University of Sheffield has been studying how the human brain can 'communicate'
He believes the brain is quietly and constantly absorbing information on people
His research suggests that this process is the concept behind 'gut feelings'
Prof Tatum warned that video calls could interrupt these complex routines 

Read more:

Gut feelings are, I suggest, the result of the brain's functioning in the three dimensions of time, a manifestation of human (and other animal's) consciousness, particularly to do with risk assessment..
'Unreal' time searches the data base of our memory, triggered by 'real' time observation or sensing of circumstances or environment. The results are fed to the parts of the brain operating in 'imaginary' time, responsible for dreaming, the ineffable traits such as love, appreciation of the arts and discernment of the abstract. Here decisions are made about response; balanced judgements that stimulate the mode of action or none. Gut feelings sense some recognition, either in the memory of the subject or that of their inherited ancestors without acute definition of the exact nature of the risk.
For more details i refer the reader to:  The Davies hypothesis

Friday, 5 January 2018

Expert witness

A multiple rapist, given only eight years imprisonment for abusing  at least twenty women, probably a hundred has been recommended for release. It has been argued that he is no longer a danger to the public. What a load of bollocks!
This man, a cab driver, systematically carried out his crimes, drugging his victims before raping up to four a night it is alleged. This was a calculated, premeditated crime carried out by an evil man and now, someone, presumably an expert, an expert psychologist, perhaps, has said that he is now safe for release. What does this so called expert know beyond his opinion? How can he tell that hundreds of innocent women are not in peril because of his expert judgement. I, and I dare say many more people would be happier with the arrangement if the man was castrated before release.

Egypt & blasphemy

It is thought that the next move by the Egyptian Government is to ban atheism, treating it as a form of blasphemy, punishable by death or worse, imprisonment.
In recent years there seems to have been a more tolerant attitude in the Islamic world, towards further secularisation. This however is being reversed, it seems to me, in Iran, Turkey and Egypt, in particular, as new leaders revert to a more stringent interpretation of what is or isn't acceptable in an Islamic republic.
A 33 year old British woman is being held in a notorious Egyptian jail on the charge of the illegal importation of the drug tramadol. The drug, an opiate, was for the use of her Egyptian partner who claims to suffer from back pain.
Putting aside, for the moment, the question of the adviseability of taking an Egyptian as a partner, why would anyone want to visit Egypt, a country ruled by a fervent Islamic militia. These leaders want to reverse a move by their countries to engage more with the Western, more Christian, nations, moves, they believe, calculated to weaken the influence of Islam. In fact, is it not the case, that these regimes are using religion, not to protect their faith but to control the population.
But what can we do about it? People, quite rightly, want to visit the treasures of Egypt but would it not make a statement to these oppressive regimes if the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and maybe the EU), advised a boycott until a more tolerant attitude towards foreign nationals and their beliefs was adopted?