I think I was a normal drinker in my teens and twenties. Okay, so I used to wake up with a hellish hangover at weekends but that’s normal right? I played football for two different teams and I’ve always said if you play sport you will never be short of friends, which in my case, also involved lots of lads nights out on the lash. One of our regular haunts was a place in Croydon – Cinatras. A place where you wipe your feet on the way out. Fifteen quid drink all you like and you get a sal-monella buffet to boot. I have fallen out of there many a time. Two pm kick off on the Saturday it is then!

Into my early thirties and I’d found a quaint little corner pub – The Newtown. A good old Youngs pub. I quickly became a regular and just in case you don’t know the definition – a regular is someone who acquaints the boozer much more than they should and develops a nickname and never has to tell the bar person what drink they want. I became known as GLUGGS – awarded this name because of the shocking speed in which I could down half a dozen pints.

Sundays were my rest day in there. What I mean by that is I didn’t bother going home. It was known for me to attend the midday opening ceremony and stagger home at the last bell booting out ceremony. Sundays at the Newtown meant the meat raffle, so staggering home with a leg of lamb under one arm and a family pack of rump steak under the other became a challenge!

There was a huge change to my drinking in my early forties when I moved area. This meant the once quaint little pub (which had turned into a toxic den) was no longer local to me. My new abode was right near a pub but it was a family carvery and it didn’t have the same appeal so it was time to come up with a plan to support my drinking hobby.

My new cottage was beautiful. It backed on to the woods and was south facing, so- lots of sun. With sun comes drinking right? I went shopping. Stocked up. Bathing in this new secluded envi-ronment I had a brainwave. Why go to a pub when I have it all here? I happily got myself a cold beer out of the stacked fridge. Poured it into a fresh glass and watched the condensation slowly ease itself down the stem. It was eleven thirty am. I had the most incredible day – it was like hav-ing my own bloody villa! I decided that all I needed was a pool so my pissed brain started goog-ling swimming pools for small gardens.

A couple of years down the line and I had no social life at all. Staying in was the new going out. Friday afternoon I’d do a big shop. I wouldn’t have to dig around in the glove box for a quid

to put in the shopping trolley, this was the day I used the free big boy one! The ‘lets stock up for the weekend’ trolley. I would buy cases of Stella, bottles of Oyster Bay and, of course, my new tipple, VODKA! The vodka took me to a whole new level – planet fucked completely out of my box. Good old Gluggs would start drinking on a Saturday at around eleven am and fall in and out of a pissed state for most of the afternoon and into the early evening. After a brief break I’d then get a sec-ond wind and really go for it by starting on the clear stuff. I’m not sure I ever fully watched an ep-isode of the new show that seemed to be taking the nation by storm – The X Factor.

God help me if anyone ever knocked on the door.

SHIT!! Quick, hide behind the sofa! Can they hear me? Turn the TV down ffs!

Hang on, think, quickly, think!

I know! I could tell this uninvited visitor I’d been to the pub and had one too many. Shit, wait-there are remnants of a party in the kitchen, the recycling bin is toppling over with empty cans and bottles.. hold on its all fine, the knocking has stopped…Jesus, I need a drink my nerves are shot!

A few years later I had gestated into a complete recluse. I refused any social invitations and would go out in the dark to get my stash of alcohol. One Christmas I posted the neighbours cards in what was similar to an army reconnaissance mission. I turned all the lights out indoors because the neighbours had invited me in for a drink and, as usual, I’d made my excuses not to go. Drinking in the dark, sitting on the kitchen floor with my supermarket brand litre bottle of vod-ka and my sugar free tonic water, shuffling on all fours to the toilet in case I was seen in the shad-ows and my cover blown. My beautiful private villa had become my own miserable prison. How could I break free from this solitary drinking hell?

Maybe this was my rock bottom? If only…