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I’ve quit drinking, and I’m happy to talk about it. Britain still doesn’t want to
ILLUSTRATIONS BY TIM MCDONAGH

Hi, my name’s Nick and I’m not an alcoholic. At least not anymore. For most of my life, I have been what the British euphemistically call a “heavy drinker.” On 1st January, I stopped and that seems to be that. I fell off the wagon late one night. But it was just a slip rather than a descent into perdition. I got back on, and have been sober since.

Anyone who quits alcohol risks turning from a drunk into a prig. The redeemed sinner forgets that among the many reasons people drink, smoke and binge on sugary food is the desire to escape life’s miseries. I have no way of knowing if circumstances will push my hand towards the bottle again. But as things stand I don’t drink and don’t want to drink. Someone else can take my place at the bar. I’ve been there long enough.

I didn’t stop because I found myself face down in a ditch or locked in a police cell. I didn’t lose my job or my relationship— although I guess there were moments when I could have lost both. I went through several dry Januarys. At the end of January 2017, I could not find a good enough reason to start drinking again. I still remembered the allure of alcohol, its promise of comradeship, love and simple pleasure. For me the most romantic lines in English poetry are from Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:

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In Prospect’s September issue: Emily Andrews, Andrew Brown and Tom Clark assess what the reign of King Charles might look like. Andrews profiles Charles and questions whether he will be able to keep his opinions to himself. Andrew Brown look at the coronation—the world is a very different place now from when the last one took place. Tom Clark explains the results of our poll, conducted by ICM, into people’s view on Charles taking the throne—it turns out fewer people than ever before want the heir to become our monarch. Elsewhere in the issue Nick Cohen details his battle with the bottle and shows that Britain has a problem with drink that it doesn’t want to talk about, and Toni Morrison Also in this issue: Toni Morrison on America’s stubborn race divide, Brian Klaas on how Europe should deal with Trump and Jessica Abrahams explains everything you need to know about fourth wave feminism
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