Abstinence for body and MIND

drunkThe more religious among you (and quite frankly, knowing my feelings on the subject matter, I question why you are reading this) might find yourselves currently punishing yourself, through denial of some pleasure or other, in what is a period, designated by the church as ‘Lent’. This is apparently to reflect the actions that the character Jesus Christ partook in so many decades ago, getting himself lost in the desert for 40 days. (Some son of God if you ask me who can’t negotiate basic map reading skills – or simply used his ‘magic God powers’ to fly somewhere with a more inclement climate).

You may well ask yourself what I, a man devoted to logic and science, am doing expounding on current  religious calendar events. Well allow me to explain. Whilst dedicated as I am to a life of scientific discovery and learning, it should be said that when appropriate I can ‘kick-back’ with the best of them. I will concede that after a hard days work at the microscope sometimes I like nothing more than sitting back and relaxing in the bath, with the music of Neil Diamond gently drifting through the air, and a large glass of gin and tonic in hand. Indeed many a time my housekeeper has found me pleasantly asleep in the bath, long after it has gone cold with a half empty glass balancing gently in my hand, and ‘Sweet Caroline’ coming round on loop for the tenth or eleventh time. In fact, much to my amusement, I am told I am quite the ‘handful’ to pull up, out of the tub, and carried to bed! 

As much as I enjoy the social niceties of a drink however, be it in my own company, I do favour one month a  year where I look to abstain. Much is made by many of doing what they often refer to as a ‘detox’ after the Christmas period, and through the month of January. I however find my social calendar often busy at that time, indeed only the beginning of this year I found myself attending the 213th American Astronomical Society meeting, as I have detailed previously on this blog. And there is also the small matter that my birthday falls upon January 14th. The Annual Achievements in Scientific Endeavour Awards take place on January 16th. The Greater London Moon Festival takes place from January 18th. And let us not forget the week long piss-up that is the Scientists on Tour expedition we all take in a bus round the South coast of Spain every January 25th.   

It is very easy of course, to make excuses for any month, there is always some social occasion to attend or bath to be had, that necessitates a drink or two. Indeed if you take the time to look around you (after you have finished reading this of course) you will see that we British as a culture are inherently drawn towards drinking. I am sure many of you this evening after finishing work, may well head down to the ‘pub’. Well forgive me if for tonight at least I do not join you.

After spending much time and government grant money towards drawing up a practical theory – I was able to come to the conclusion that March was the month where I had the least amount of social obligations, and baths, and so was the best time for me to stop drinking for a sustained period of time.

There has of course been some trial and error over the years since I first implemented this. Indeed in the first year after having perfected what I though was the perfect mathematical formula with which to stop drinking, I found I had forgotten to carry over an ‘8’, and found myself not drinking any fluids at all.  Fortunately the quick thinking of one of my students during a lecture, where I collapsed through severe dehydration only a week into the exercise, saved me from great embarrassment. 

 Now however, much more practiced in the experiment I have recently inaugurated my third year of periodical sobriety – so you can only imagine how much it rankles me that I find my giving up the same time as this religious ‘Lent’ period. I have made very clear my feelings on Religion, much appropriated by Richard Dawkins in his best-selling books I might add, but wanted to clear up the matter once and for all here.

  The mind and willpower with which I devote to such a task is immense and requires my upmost concentration – one better not distracted by idle speculation. I still have 25 days before I can imbibe any alcohol again. I shall now be retiring to my study. I shall lock the door, and ask my housekeeper to not open it again until April 1st, regardless of what she may hear.

Let this and the letter I have written to the church asking them to move Easter (which they do every year anyway – so what’s wrong with having it in September) be the end of it. Till next year at least…

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