Monday, 29 December 2014


I went to my first AA meeting the other night.  It was Christmas Eve.  I personally had no need to attend an AA meeting, other than being guided along into the melee of old and young alcos speaking of their pathos and determination to stay off the bottle for just one-more-day now.  Alcohol pervades my life.  It pervades the lives of those closest to me, particularly since 2008, and it pervaded my life most directly from birth up to the age of 22, when my father passed away.

All I could think about during the meeting was my dad.  I'd be listening to the speakers and couldn't cease to reflect off my own memories and experience with good old dad, comparing my experiences with the stories I was listening to, here, now.

'Alcoholic' never passed through anyone's lips when dad was alive.  After all, he worked hard, and kept his jobs all the way into his final terminal illness.  He 'only' drank beer, and that not what alkies drink, is it?  No, he didn't do wine or spirits, so he couldn't be an alco, could he?  I bristle with a twisted smile now to think of dad hating drugs and drug dealers while all the while he was making the local drug dealer in the form of the publican(s) filthy rich through his own debilitating habit.  Mum was passive.  She didn't interfere.  It was only beer, after all.   Except that throughout my life up the age of 22, and as far back as I could remember, dad was up the pub every night.  He'd always come back stone cold like a wet sloppy dead fish.  And that drinking increased incrementally so that in the last couple of years in his life he'd be at the pub all day on the Sunday.  Ostensibly, he'd be up early to play lawn bowls.  He'd take a biscuit from the tin and go off with his bag of heavy balls.  He'd be back sometime in the afternoon so utterly and elegantly plastered I had to wonder how many beers it would take to achieve such a state.  But I didn't wonder so much.  When you're immersed in it, you live it, you get on with it, and you take it for granted.

Everyone loved Ralph, good ol' Ralph.  Sure, he was incredibly likeable and had a true social nous, so he had loads of friends.  So much so that he overfilled the large church at this funeral.  He was loved in the way others may have loved Keith Moon and Oliver Reed, y'know, meeting your best friends in pubs and all that bullshit.  Still, there must be some virtue in that.  I don't have the same social nous as my dad and tend to be way more aloof.  My dad truly had a lot going for him in many ways and therein lies the tragedy.  Magnificent build, good looking, great hair.  By the end of his life he was enfeebled, wracked by pain, emotional and otherwise.  I'm pleased to say he never lost all his strength despite the rivers of booze and the pack-a-day habit - right down to the butt.

I could attend an A-Anon meeting and speak there.  Financial insecurity, lack of love, all that fucking drinking as I remember it.  But there's an overriding part of me that's a stoic and a believer in bettering the situation.  Bettering the situation does not entail naval gazing into the events of decades passed.  It involves loving the being for who they are, were, what they did for you (for they do much amidst incredible emotional pain that is constantly balmed by the alcohol), and to give now, be of service to your late father and life within and without, for that's where the service to life lies.

I feel that alcohol and its effect on me is something I could talk about forever and ever.  Sure, I will have a glass of red here and there, or a beer, but I'm not really a drinker.  Thank God.  I can't stand hangovers, and the vile stuff has caused more than enough pain for me already in this lifetime.

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...