I really feel for Paul Gascoigne. Alcoholism is a terrible thing. Like my other heroes, Jimmy Greaves and Eric Clapton he is an alcoholic. After close shaves, Jimmy and Eric conquered it, as far as you ever can, so it can be done. I look at Paul and think “There, but for the grace of God…”
I drank like a fish for 35 years from the age of 15 to 50. Chronologically the preferred tipples were beer, lager, vodka, rum, cocktails, for the first 15 years all seen off on nights and days out with the lads. As I got older it morphed into wine, dark rum, top quality cava, and G&Ts mostly consumed at home. The G&Ts and rum and cokes were often served by my wife to me in pint glasses containing 4-6 measures. That was when I returned home and slumped in the chair from a 200 mile 4 hour driving commute to Exeter in Devon because a normal sized drink slipped down so quickly that she would otherwise have been up and down like a yo-yo to the kitchen and back. I enjoyed every mouthful. I never did drink and drive. Luckily I built up a considerable tolerance, never got hangovers and just became more relaxed the more I consumed.
The idea never bothered me much because I functioned so well and had a reasonably successful career but in later years I started to wonder if I was an alcoholic. I only found out that I wasn’t when I decided to try and stop drinking alcohol shortly after my 50th birthday when I developed type 2 diabetes and put on weight. I deliberately weaned myself off booze over a 3 month period, rather than try and stop instantly, as a way of cutting out sugar and reducing my weight. I reasoned that my system would need time to adjust. I am so lucky because I did not find it difficult to do and I have been dry ever since (4 years).
I now enjoy sugar free cokes, lemonades and fizzy orange drinks and coffees nearly as much as I did enjoy booze. So I know I am not an alcoholic and I know I am very lucky. I wish I could help Paul Gascoigne in return for all the enjoyment he has given us down the years. I guess we will never meet but I don’t live far from where he goes for rehab in Bournemouth. If we did meet, or if he ever got to read this, I would try and convince him that you can still survive and enjoy life without alcohol, no matter how long you have been on the sauce.
Get Well, Stay Well!
In the meantime, I would just like to say, thanks for all the joy Paul and please come back, get well and stay well. You still have a whole wonderful life ahead of you. There is so much to live for. You are held dearly in the hearts of people you have never met. That’s a neat trick to pull off, nearly as good as that goal against Scotland or the Seaman semi-final free kick. Hang on to that thought in the darkest moments.