What a difference now I’ve stopped drinking fish fingers

The first problem is finding something as enjoyable as wine. Water is useless because it’s liquefied lettuce

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As we know, the government has been waging a campaign of hate against the middle classes for many years. It’s never the fat and the lazy, with their ancient cars and their unlagged lofts, who are targeted in the war on climate change. No. It’s people with Agas and Range Rovers and patio heaters at their second homes in Gascony.

It’s the same story with obesity. In my experience it’s the dim and the gormless who have become enormous in recent years, but rather than telling Colleen and Lee to walk to the working men’s club every night and stick to orange juice, our glorious leaders have produced a guide on how you can provide your dinner party guests with less alcohol in such a way that they don’t notice.

Mainly, it involves serving what I like to call beer-free beer and not topping up everyone’s glass quite so frequently. They also provide some handy cut-out’n’keep recipes for low-alcohol cocktails . . . which will ensure that at midnight the few remaining guests will still be talking about property prices in Fulham and school fees.

Plainly all this advice from Mr Brown’s taxpayer-funded dinner party advisers is rubbish but to make sure we all understand the need to lose friends and alienate people, they recently announced that one glass of chablis contained the same amount of calories as four fish fingers.

I found this a bit farfetched and so, on your behalf, I decided to conduct a simple experiment. I would give up drinking, to see what effect it would have on my planetary waistline.

This is a big deal because, as I’ve explained in the past, I drink a lot. On my recent holiday I would have two beers before lunch, a bottle of rosé with it, a banana daiquiri for pudding, a snooze in the afternoon, four rum punches before dinner, another bottle of wine with that and then some piña coladas to get me in the mood for more sleeping.

It works out, if the government is to be believed, at 3,500 calories a day in booze alone.

First of all, I’ll explain the rules of my experiment. I would continue to eat as normal and to sit down as much as possible during the day. There would be no jogging or cycling, and no low-fat yoghurt or weeds instead of chops and chips. The only change would be the drink.

And the results are . . . drum roll, please . . . after seven days I have lost precisely 1lb.

This makes no sense because if I really was getting through the equivalent of 50 fish fingers a day, you would imagine that after a week of no fish fingers at all I’d have the body mass index of Jon Bon Jovi and the torso of Willem Dafoe. And yet all that’s happened is that I’ve gone from 224lb to 223lb.

At this rate of decline, I’d be about 657 years old before there’d be any visible difference at all.

And am I prepared to go that long without a drink? Well, strangely, the answer is: probably, because actually it’s not so bad.

I certainly see no point in cutting down on alcohol because drinking one glass of wine has about the same effect as adding one grain of sand to the Sahara desert. I don’t even notice it. So it’s either 40 or none at all and I’ve gone for the zero option. DefCon 1.

The first problem was finding something as enjoyable as wine to drink after a day at work. Water obviously is useless because it’s just liquefied lettuce. You may as well drink helium. So what I’ve done is rediscovered a fondness for Robinsons lemon barley water and, I have to say, it’s nicer than any claret.

With that problem out of the way, we move on to the next – not drinking in the company of those who are. God, drunks talk gibberish, usually at a volume that can crack rock.

Then they fall in the bin, blame Gordon Brown and emerge with a set of opinions that hovers somewhere between Genghis Khan and the Daily Mail.

Trying to talk sensibly when all around have lost their heads, and their ability to sit on a chair, is like trying to do applied maths while being keelhauled. I’ve often wondered how my teetotal friends have managed to stay on the wagon when they are surrounded by booze and boozers.

Now I know. You begin to see drink not as a relaxant or as a stimulant but as a problem that doesn’t screw with your waistline. Only your mind.

There’s more good news. Last night I drove to London, had supper with friends and then did something I’ve never done before. I. Drove. Home. Again. Not with one eye in the mirror and my heart in my mouth. But with gay abandon and a reckless attitude to the speed limit. Come and get me, rozzers. Let me blow in your bag. Bring it on.

Even better, I’ve started waking up feeling an unusual compulsion to draw the curtains and play table tennis with the children. I no longer have to spend the morning clinging onto things. And do you know what? I haven’t had a lumpy yawn for a whole week now. Perhaps that’s why I’m still fat. I’ve stopped vomiting.

Of course I cannot imagine even for a moment that this will be a long-term experiment but I do recommend you give it a bash. Contrary to what the government says, you won’t lose much weight, but you really will feel – there’s no other word – “better”.

If that sounds appealing, then I can assure you that giving up drink is a damn sight easier than the alternatives. Doing without roast potatoes, and skipping.

What’s more, avoiding alcohol won’t make you a bore. It’ll make you the exact opposite.

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