Dry November: Day 4

November 04, 2018

After waking late yesterday, I met the friend with whom I am undertaking Dry November. Because we’d not seen each other for ages, the conversation was mostly a life catch-up, about jobs and living situations, though there was some chat about how the dry month was going. I’m lucky in that I have the support of my partner, and most of my friends have been relatively understanding. She’s had a bit of a harder time with certain friends considering it a bit of a killjoy thing to do. “Being boring” is the way that she put it, and perhaps at another point “not being fun.” I’ve worried about this aspect myself at times, but mostly decided that it is an addicted part of my brain trying to rationalise its way into getting alcohol. Having to face it as an explicit accusation must be much harder.

She had also made the day harder on herself than I had, in that she had tickets to Printworks, a massive industrial nightclub, and she intended to keep this appointment. In the end she made it through without a drop, no mean feat, and was home in bed by a sensible hour. I, however, stayed up all night, getting home after 6am, though I did not drink either. Both this and my late awakening were intentional, for reasons I’ll explain.

I set out to meet friends at 8pm at an achingly cool cocktail bar on the Southbank, Dandeylan, evidently set to shut soon, in the Mondrian Hotel. I won’t attempt to describe the hotel’s copper curves, but I will say that its Thames-height view of St. Paul’s is impressive. The tube was in some way disrupted yesterday, delaying my friends and leading to jokes about German punctuality. I’d arrived early. This meant a long stretch of sitting alone next to hot dates downing drinks, and before bartenders enacting their art and artifice.

In a way this suited me; I ordered a coffee and wrote. I am obnoxiously pleased writing letters or notebooks in front of strangers; it makes me feel productive, anachronistic, distinguished. In another way it was a bit strange; the staff clearly thought it was odd for me to order coffee, which though had to be obtained from the main hotel, and to write on the bar, amidst the hubbub, music, and occasional splash from the stainless-steel shakers. The patrons were likewise puzzled. And of course the cocktails were tempting. Their price tag (£13) assisted me in my attempt to remain, at least in one narrow sense, virtuous.

When my friends arrived I wound up with some sort of ginger mocktail, which was good if sweet. Once we were chatting, once again, drinking didn’t matter. After an enjoyable conversation we walked to the Tate, for the main even: to watch The Clock. We arrived around 10pm to a surprisingly snaking queue. It was one of three nights that The Clock was to play in its twenty-four hour entirety, and there were maybe a few hundred waiting. We weren’t able to enter until 11:23pm.

Since I’m writing about The Clock elsewhere I won’t say much more here. My friends left around 1am, but I managed to stick it out until 5:30am, after which I had the privilege of walking through a deserted Borough Market on my way to London Bridge. I had made it through my first Friday and Saturday.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.