Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings

“Grandad, I’m so-oo-o proud of you”

These were the words of the 15 year old that made the Grandfather's crispy noodles soggy with tears during that Sunday family lunch in the Peking Palace.

The heartfelt statement was uttered by Ana, who, 8 months ago would have been digesting that old potato “granddad won’t be with us today, he is not feeling well”.  She would recognise this as “Family speak” for grandad's drunk again, because Ana, for the 15 years of her life, has only known a grandfather who drank.


Born in 1945 in Glasgow, I grew up in a loving family.  Childhood held no great fears or traumas.  Because the rest of the neighbours had precious little material goods, there was no peer pressure to wear Nike or Addidas.  Just to have shoes was a result!

Having no BBC, ITV, DVD or in fact no TV, entertainment for the community centred around the numerous pubs in the area, leading to house parties. Booze therefore was all around and I would imagine my first drink would be “minesweeping” at parties aged about 10.

By the time I came to leave school, I was what nowadays would be called a “binge drinker”, spending the majority, if not all of my wage on booze. Considering that my weekly wage was the equivalent of £3.61 and £1.50 went to my mother for my keep, drink must have been ridiculously cheap.

While drinking away my teenage years, I had one big problem – I LOVED BOOZE.  I loved the taste, the effect, the pubs, the camaraderie of booze. I was not drinking because of inferiority complexes nor fear of people or situations or a childhood bereft of love or affection.  I was drinking because I LOVED IT.

I joined the Royal Marines at 20 years of age and came down to England for the first time. There, I was to meet people who were to become life long friends and fellow imbibers.

After basic training, I was posted to Singapore for 18 months. Over the next 22 years I had the opportunity to ‘drink the world’.  Australia, Norway, Malta, Gibraltar, America (“Did you see the Grand Canyon?”. “Er, um, no it was closed for refurbishment!!!") Drunk again.

Marriage and family came into play. Still, the drink was more important. 1st tooth, 1st steps, 1st words, 1st day at school, sports days, prize giving, football or cricket matches, PTA meetings. All of these important family occasions could not compete with the allure and drawing power of King Alcohol.

Marriage gone, new marriage, same problem: booze. I was skilful enough to hold down various jobs, mainly at management level, by plenty of “bullsh*t” and strong mints.

Come the day I retired and King Alcohol was heard to shout gleefully “GOTCHA”

Morning drinking, lunch time drinking, evening drinking, earlier morning drinking, in fact anytime that I emerged from 'Black Out‘.  Worse and worse, lower and lower, deeper and deeper into the morass.  The nadir was when my daughter and wife had to physically bathe me after an “accident”.

At some time during a spree, I must have rang the AA Helpline as two men arrived and spent some time with my wife and I.  The next morning, she woke me from my black out to tell me they were coming to take me to a meeting.  I could not remember even talking to them.

That Saturday morning meeting went over the head of this sweating, shaking, gibbering wretch that was me. I came home and got drunk again. Sunday saw me at the meeting relatively sober. I could feel sorry for these poor people who were self-confessed alkies. I on the other hand was just a heavy drinker!!! Get a big book, get a sponsor seemed to be the War Cry. So I did. I read the Big Book and did some daily suggestions. Come the Tuesday meeting I conceded that I was an Alcoholic.  ‘Quick promotion‘, from heavy drinker to alcoholic in 4 days!  All that was 8 months ago and through Big Book, sponsor and recognising my Supreme Being, I am sober.  I enjoy my meetings, the fellowship and the strength I have gained through my home group.

So, I would share to any newcomers or anyone who may feel a bit ’wobbly’: BIG BOOK, SPONSOR, 12 STEPS, HIGHER POWER and meet me at the top of the 12 steps on the Road to Recovery.  Then YOU may meet your grandaughter or daughter saying: