Monthly Archives: March 2016

Drinking After Dawn (drinking notes)

I know I should never have drank after the dawn, but I did and it was nice while it lasted.
I also apologise for breaking my family rule: I vowed with my Irish cousins we would all never drink before noon.

We made the vow as  we were from a family of drinkers, drinking for fun and excitement; a vow made with lighter hearts at an Irish wedding!

I remember a passing comment from a student that she had woken in our university days and taken a slug of last nights beer. I made a mental derogatory note, but within 30 years I would be having lager and crisps on a European work study trip, rather than croissants and coffee. Everyone was doing it. Even our lecturers were having beer at 9am

I knew drinking after the dawn was wrong. Yet I did it. It lifted a cloud. Helped.

I always used to do it with food, following Churchill’s approach of claret with eggs and bacon. Sometimes cooked on my range, other times from a sandwich counter.

I never had whiskey for breakfast but you know I started an occasional nip of other things, but that wasn’t my ruin.

There were drinks I shouldn’t have had, but I did have them, when I had no responsibilities other than to cook breakfast for the family.

I was having fun, dullness really can make you feel better and then I admit I did stop thinking straight.

I stopped remembering that I should stop drinking.  I even thought I was doing the right thing because it felt right in my mind, but the bad side of me was talking to me

Yet it did feel fun and I was forever vowing when the next corner was turned I would stop. Or slow down. When something went right. Or when I found my next safe harbour.

Drinking after the dawn was a sign that the days were numbered and if only I had remembered my vow before it became to late

I am sorry for drinking before after the dawn, because I would not have found myself in hospital.

It was great fun though, I cannot deny and I am lucky to have the memories.  And not to have died as a result.  Not everyone is as lucky as me.

I hesitate recommending it because it will kill you


Coca Cola and Digestives (a note from a hospital ward)

When I had been on the main hospital ward for a couple of days I began to be a secret snacker.
This is ridiculous if you think about it, but I was scared of being found out

I hardly ate on the ward. I had no hunger, had no idea what the cocktail of drugs were doing to me, but I was grumpy, wired and scared of my shadow. I was also dramatically losing weight

I was brought up to the rumour that Coca Cola is bad for you, but it was the only thing I wanted, so first thing in the morning I had a little tin. And a couple of digestives. I had a secret supply in my cupboard. That and starburst sweets

These saw me through my bad times of hunger. A tooth is ruined top rear left side, but the pain I ignore as a reminder of my darkest hospital days

I now have a simple rule that in my home there is always 150ml of red Coke and 1.5 McVities Digestive biscuit.

It’s my lifeboat supply. My Labrador didn’t know my rule when she helped herself to my last biscuits a day or so ago from the cupboard, but I coped

They say kidnap victims have feeling towards their captors. I have such feelings to Coke and biscuits.

As for my Labrador she came to see me in hospital. I abandoned her when I fell ill and one day my special friend brought my dog to a fire exit for me to see her.

My Labrador will leave me soon and I will be grateful for the time we were given together, but death has no mystery for me

Walking Hospital Corridors with a Drip

Regardless of what you may think of me, a reformed man, I am quite switched on

You might think me as a fool for causing so much pain to other, for not stopping excessive drinking earlier, but I maintain that I have done everything that was expected of me and that I am very lucky.  I can now mend and do some good.

Anyway. I remember it was the second or third day on the main hospital ward that I overheard my surgeon comment I could go for a walk, if I could walk, other than just to the toilet.  A day or so later I tried my luck to get to the hospital cafe alone. It was a long walk and I needed a rest on the way, but I got there

I really was pigheaded in my pursuit for freedom, but I needed it. All of my adult life I have had complete freedom, so I was determined. The nurses had watched in disbelief as I walked past their station, but I took my drip, rolled it along the hospital corridor and with time got there in my white tunic

The first time was hard work and was foolish. I think someone helped me back

The second time was just fun, but exhausting. They asked me not to do it again!

Yet they had seen me and it was this that got me released early from hospital.  This was what I wanted, but I was not ready to leave. And my friends were petrified I would just find the kitchen cupboard again, because all of the doctors and nurses and counsellors had said I would just drink straightaway

I am pigheaded and I knew the time had come never to drink again, but I went home early and that was a mistake, because I was still very ill and weak, losing weight and refusing anything nutritious.

Yet my determination to walk down that corridor doing just what I wanted to do showed the sort of character I have. I don’t need to drink again and I want to start again

I am at last in control of myself and my thoughts. Everything else doesn’t matter. People I come into contact with shall all be treated well and nicely and I will portray no arrogance.  Deep down I know that I have a second chance and all I can do now is smile inwardly and outwardly, but without doing what everyone else thinks is the right thing to do

The difficult thing to explain is the extent to which I was infirm.  I had lost so much blood, had been chemically taken off alcohol and was now having to recover, with the power of my own mind to not want another drink.  That was the easy bit.  The hard bit was doing the things that had for so long come naturally to me: eat, walk, smile, think, move at all, accept who and where I was in my life.  My best friend became a sofa

A Shower with a Nurse (a note from the hospital ward)

Dear Liver

On about my fourth day on intensive care they gave me a bed bath; when two nurses visited me in Intensive Care, stripped me down and bathed me.  And how being bed ridden and having a poor general temperament meant it is just a memory I would rather forget.

I like to think that I am as normal and amorous as the next person, but I can assure you that any feeling of passion towards anything is lost to you when you are in hospital recovering from nine blood transfusions

It doesn’t mean that you cannot live in hope though and on the hospital ward I was told by my motherly nurse that it was time to shower

At this time I was not steady on my feet.  I had tried walking, could just about manage, yet needed help and support. So off for a shower we went.

The nurse and I entered a white room, which contained a sink, a shower and a white chair.  The door was closed behind us and I took off my clothes, clinging to the seat.  There was a pole to the side of the shower and I was helped towards it, the water was turned on and I was left alone.  The nurse stood away from my naked frame and eventually I sat down on the seat.

The water was nice on my body, but all I was thinking about was the nurse.  Not in a sexual way at all, but I was simply embarrassed.

Until a short time ago, I had only ever been into showers with lovers.  I may have been ill that day and not very with it, but it didn’t take me long before I started feeling very sad.

The water was turned off whilst I was in the seat and I dried myself, before going to the sink and shaving, this time doing it myself.  It was with the same nurse who had shaved me before and she was not going to shave me again after my tantrum of last time!

My want or need for any passion was lost to me for months after I was hospitalised. As I look back on my lone shower with a nurse and my bed bath, I know that they are not memories of sexual fantasies achieved.  Those memories merely reinforce to me how ill drinking caused me to be, how lucky I am now to be in a loving relationship and how easily the chance of having that could have been lost to me forever from drinking too much

Easter Drinking (some advice)

10 The Bumpy Road Franglasia

Dear Liver

It’s nearly 18 months since you cried tears of blood and hospitalised me.

I am now very much recovered and do not feel any ill will towards you

I am not sure other people will be treating their livers with any respect over these next few days

It’s a long holiday here and everyone will begin drinking this lunchtime and will probably continue until Monday. Four days of drinking.

I used to do this. Everyone does.

I bought some wine for my home and friends yesterday and put it on the kitchen side. Instantly I remembered my old routines and how I would have enjoyed that wine.

People in my home may get drunk this Easter holiday, as it’s what we as a population do, but unfortunately more and more advertising is aimed at promoting drinking and encouraging excess, but no one ever criticises when someone drinks too much.

There is no possibility I will drink anything, as I simply do not see the point. Nor will I put my health at risk. You have to destroy it and I will feel ill whilst you do so and its a waste of my time and yours. I can drink if I want. It won’t instantly kill me and would take months to make you cry tears of blood again, but I really am not interested.

There are so many other things to do and much better ways to enjoy time passing.

I do hope people take some rest in between bouts of drinking. And I hope they enjoy themselves. I will never criticise a drinker, but I will not run the risk. I do not want to have any regrets in my mind. I have consumed so much in my life, but it did nothing apart from make me lonely and insular. Even though I had people around me

When I was taking that two/three months to recover from surviving avoiding an horrific death, all I could think about was the lucky fact I could actually think I was alive.

I may have some chocolate. I understand livers like chocolate!


John Swan

from his blog of letters at

Hiding Stress With Drink (some advice)

10 The Bumpy Road, Franglasia

Dear Liver

I hid work stress in the bottom of a wine glass, but I am sure I am not the only one to do this

Instead of diligently processing work in the interests of all, I finished the best bits and the rest I hoped would sort themselves out

The thing is, I knew they would eventually sort themselves out, because I had done the tasks so many times before, but instead of doing these tedious tasks I preferred to have them all outstanding and go for a drink. And then two.

It was too late before I realised this caused me stress by inactivity. And a neurosis that I am only just beginning to manage

I like fun and filling forms is just boring; I thought closing matters down futile and not worthy of my skills and best done by someone else.

I could quite simply have sorted everything out, but instead I just let matters lie incomplete. Was it the boredom of work?

The problem was that things mounted up and a list of ten items became 25 within six months and a 100 after a year. So I began to worry over lots of silly things

I planned to do these tedious items first thing in the morning before I even contemplated having a drink, but even that slipped a little towards the end and the anxiety leading to neurosis increased and as I was a drinker seeking fun, I drank to hide the stress

I do think I went for a glass of wine during work because I was bored and when things started growing in numbers, I went more often because I was stressed

I really wish I had not drunk to hide the stress.

It was a waste of money to do so and I am sure you didn’t appreciate it!

Yours sincerely

John Swan

from his blog of letters at

Fellow Drinkers (a note from the hospital ward)


10 The Bumpy Road, Franglasia

Dear Liver

After a couple of days on the hospital ward, two work colleagues came to see me. Mature fellow drinkers like me, they brought good humour and pornographic magazines

It was great to see them and they were the only people I wanted to see from work

I had drank many beers with both of them in our local pubs and overseas on European work trips and I was quite simply flattered they had come to see me.  I didn’t know if they were after gossip or to see details of my fall from grace, but they were there and I was glad for that.  Like me they were under the pressures of everyday life: they were each older than, but genuine nice men

There was no getting away from the truth of my situation. I was in hospital for an alcohol related illness. Maybe they thought: ‘there but for the grace of God go I…’

Our job is an intense one. High flying and time critical, but we didn’t discuss it. We spoke as true friends, people who had stuck together when work loyalties endangered our careers to protect a common thread and we had always survived

Alcohol was not discussed. I tried to explain what was going on, but I doubt they were interested. They were there. I was not embarrassed. I had a couple of mates and it felt great. And they were mates I was lucky to have and two who didn’t befriend many. Movers. Shakers. People who knew what was right

The fact I had drink myself into hospital was not of significance, but as I reflect on them now I am pleased they saw me.

Everyday I worried about work, what people thought of me and I drank to have fun and enjoy and sometimes just to get over the boredom of it all.  One of those friends has now died, the other still works with me and we have common deals, but we will never be true friends.  Our common thread is our work and our knowledge of what is right by what we do.  I now drink tea and he still drinks beer.

I do never expect of him to ever rest his liver, but there is always hope.  Seeing a work colleague a few days after eight days in intensive care is sure to make someone think, especially when you have the same pressures.  I heard he has had some hypnotic therapy to help with his stress recently

Yours as ever

John Swan

from his blog of letters at