Back from a flying visit to Dublin, and in the two interviews I did (one TV, one radio) there was more interest in my admission of occasional falls from the wagon than in the matters Prince Charles/TB which led The Guardian on Saturday.
As it happens, the only other business I did whilst there was to meet with people from the Toranfield House addiction treatment centre, for whom I am speaking at a conference in the autumn. As in the UK, addiction problems are big in Ireland and I guess that is what drove the interest in the subject of my own addictive personality.
I’ve always tried to be open about my mental health problems, but when I did intermittently end my abstinence in 1999 after 13 years without a drop, I did not want to tell anyone at work. This was not for reasons of stigma. It was more that TB used regularly to say he would be freaked out if I went back on the bottle. I didn’t want to add any additional worries to the many he had in the position he held.
‘Back on the bottle’ overstates what I did. I had the occasional drink, partly I guess because of pressure, but more I think out of a desire to be ‘normal’ and even more I fear as a way of testing myself. I’m always doing it – testing myself I mean.
As I said on the Miriam O’Callaghan show last night, I am not recommending this to anyone who has stopped drinking. Even as I talked of it, I had in my mind the image of someone sitting at home who thought ‘well he had an alcohol problem and he seems to be able to take one now and then without a problem, so I’ll try.’ It is not a good idea.
When I have had a drink it has generally been in relaxed circumstances, usually with Fiona. I have never been drunk, which is something I could not have claimed of my life pre-breakdown in 1986. I also know that when I see my psychiatrist next, (he reads The Guardian), he will greet me with a slight shake of the head, and a warning that a proven addiction is best not played with. He’s told me before and he is right.
It was a good job I was on my best behaviour last night. Not only was Whitney Port of The Hills in the Green Room, but so were two of Miriam O’Callaghan’s lovely daughters and a group of their friends, not to mention a handful of young researchers dressed up for a night out after the show. I don’t think I have ever been in a Green Room with so many attractive young women. Some of them tried to get me out on the club scene. I resisted and headed for the hotel, alone.
Otherwise I might have had moments almost as embarrassing as the one with Britney Spears a decade ago, which seemingly is featuring in The Guardian’s Part 2 extracts tomorrow, alongside some of the new material in the third volume of my diaries on the ups and downs of the TB-GB relationship. The story is an old one, but it will be told for many years to come.
Meanwhile, back on matters Royal, I was almost tempted to buy the Mail on Sunday as I came through City airport this morning, as it led on a story about Prince Charles’ lobbying efforts with the new government. It was a temptation defeated rather more easily than a night out in Dublin. As I often say to people reading the Mail – you wouldn’t pour heroin into your veins, so why pump that stuff into your brain?
** Here, at the top of this extract, is what The Guardian ran from my diaries on the booze situation.