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Have you signed up for Dry January? Why? asks Ellen Widdup

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 January 2017

Ellen's youngest son is starting early

Ellen's youngest son is starting early


I’ve never really understood the fanfare and sponsorship that goes alongside the annual attempts to abstain from booze, writes Ellen Widdup.

But then again, I’m not a big drinker. My husband on the other hand, is a prime candidate for Dry January.

Since we had children his boozing has been curtailed somewhat – except for that time when he got locked in the toilet after indulging in champagne at his daughter’s christening.

But believe me, there are plenty of alcohol-fueled anecdotes from his youth. Many involve nudity and his friend Gavin. Often simultaneously.

The vicar found the best man’s speech at our wedding most uncomfortable.

I should have realised on the night I met him and he declared I was the girl he was going to marry before promptly passing out, that he was not just over compensating for first-date nerves.

Much of our courtship involved tours of the best pubs in West Yorkshire. He was never the designated driver.

On my 25th birthday he drank six pints, four G&Ts and a glass of red wine before dancing on a table wearing a pair of trousers on his head. I still don’t know who the slacks belonged to. Gavin is my best bet.

It’s taken three children, a desire for a six pack, an obsession with running and the migration of Gavin to Germany to reduce his consumption of lager.

But this Christmas, when I pointed out that all that seemed to pass his lips was alcohol and Alka-Seltzer, he swore he would embrace abstinence if only to prove a point.

Not a drop has passed his lips since January 1st.

With his new found clear head, he seems to be a lot more productive.

He has power-washed the patio, steam-cleaned the sofa, built a Millennium Falcon out of Lego and is working on teaching the little one to walk.

The latter is a painstaking process.

And ironically, the attempts of the one-year-old make him look like he has had one too many.

He stands, tentatively letting go of his daddy’s hands. He wobbles, holds on the the wall to steady himself and lifts one foot into the air. He tries to take a step but his foot caves beneath him and he stretches out his arms, fingers splayed before crashing to the floor and snorting with laughter. His depth perception is all over the place.

He reminds me of his father after one particular night out in Camden Town – possibly the last time we went clubbing around 10 years ago – when I had to manhandle him off the night bus where he had given the conductor a full rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody complete with head banging and booty shaking.

He thought the pavement was made of sponge.

Incidentally, violently shaking one’s head and/or bottom in time with music is another thing babies like to do.

Trying to navigate a drunk friend home is also not dissimilar to attempting to get a teeny tiny person to do anything. Often it involves someone flopping on you, the floor or any available surface. Which leads to dragging. Easier when the person in question doesn’t weigh 11 stone of course.

In fact, come to think of it, a lot of the behaviour of babies is similar to that of drunks.

They’ll stop what they’re doing to take a nap. Doesn’t matter where they are. Doesn’t matter who they’re with. Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the position they are in. They are also totally unable to predict when they’re about to pass out.

My kid has fallen asleep in his spaghetti and meatballs before now.

But then again, when it comes to food, like my husband after a night out, he struggles to locate his mouth.

Then there are the faces the baby pulls. Gurning mouths, rolling eyes, dribbling.

Like those who have had a tipple, he also has a tendency to conduct himself poorly in public. He will throw tantrums, he will undress and he will find himself in totally inexplicable situations.

Yesterday I discovered him inside the washing basket. No idea how he made it there but he was sucking on a sock and wearing pants on his head (like father like son).

It reminded me a little of the time my husband got stuck on the top of a university building in Huddersfield after tequila night in the Mexican bar.

Babies – and drunks - have absolutely no coordination. They’re constantly hurting themselves.

They have poor impulse control. They can often be found with their heads in the toilet. And they have no sense of shame.

One drink too many – fruitshoot or vodka shot it makes little difference - and terrifying emotional outbursts can occur.

My son has a particularly high-pitched scream if you are not fast enough to unwrap his Babybel.

After his last session on the mulled wine, my husband spent 45 minutes ranting at the dog about Brexit.

He has been pondering the potential travel implications of no longer being part of the EU ever since – albeit with a slightly clearer head.

“I think now is the perfect time to pay Gavin a visit in Cologne,” he told me this morning over a fruit smoothie (the drink of choice for anyone undertaking a cleansing new year’s resolution).

But before he got any further in planning what would surely be a trip to end all sobriety, the baby stood up and took two wobbly steps towards him.

“Did you see that?” he yelled clapping the little chap on the back.

At which point our son smiled a toothy grin and then threw up in his lap.


Today we can finally reveal the names of the people selected to be on our first ever Inspiring Women of Suffolk list.

The dedicated cancer ward at Ipswich Hospital has reopened after a touching moment with a dying patient inspired a refurbishment.

Suffolk’s emergency services have welcomed the introduction of a law designed to provide better protection for staff.

An Ipswich school has won gold and silver trophies in the Boccia under-19 county championships.

Suffolk police have confirmed that a man who spent more than 15 hours in a town centre tree has now come down.

This is a list that Suffolk should be proud of - 100 women who are positive role models for future generations, women who have achieved success in a diverse range of fields from business, the arts, sport and education to the third sector.

The list was put together by a panel of judges this summer after we asked readers for their nominations.

Investigations are underway following two burglaries in Ipswich, which are being linked by police.

Greater Anglia is due to take delivery of its first new suburban trains next year – but has still not yet formally announced where they will be serviced in north Essex.

Ipswich School’s Remembrance Day art installation will be open to the public again after overwhelming public interest.

Insurance payouts for vehicle damage caused by potholes in Suffolk has soared by more than double in the last year, shock new figures have revealed.

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