Hilly Janes has given up drink for Lent. Is she still hanging on to the wagon?
The ‘Ottolenghi’ dinner our friend cooks us using recipes from Jerusalem, the chef’s latest book, is delicious. His wife introduces me to Fever Tree ‘naturally light’ light tonic water. It’s lovely - much subtler than the bigger brands, has no chemical-tasting sweeteners but has only about 100 calories in a 500ml bottle.
The others polish off two bottles of wine between the three of them - that’s about six alcohol units and 350 calories each, heh-heh-heh, I think to myself, chomping on more of the cake I’ve bought from an Ottolenghi cafe as our contribution. I’ve compensated for not drinking by tucking into more of this feast than them, but I’m pleased that I’m behind the wheel on the one-hour journey home late at night. I’d have wriggled out of that during the usual pre-outing “Who’s driving home?” negotiations we didn’t have to have. It’s rather liberating.
Challenge of the week, however, comes at an event I have organised for the networking and training group Women in Journalism. Top executive coach Fran Moscow is generously sharing her expertise for free to 50 members and their guests. I have to make sure we are all set, do the introduction and thanks, and chat to some new faces.
Public speaking doesn’t phase me, but I’m anxious that the evening goes well. It does - Fran is insightful and inspiring. But I could murder a glass of wine at the drinks afterwards. “Why not just have one?” the little devil sitting on my shoulder whispers. “No one here knows that you are trying to stay on the wagon. You could just lie afterwards if the family ask you.” I repeat my “I’ve given it up for Lent,” mantra to myself, and stick to water.
By the time I get home, strangely, the craving is worse. I crack open a bottle of the Fever Tree tonic I’ve stocked up on and knock it back with a little ramekin of Kettle chips, and watch Question Time on TV without nodding off. In the morning I treat myself to a fried egg for breakfast. Oh, the glamour!
The next hurdle is a friend’s massive Big-0 birthday party with dinner, dancing, and Sunday lunch the following day. I’m really looking forward to both, especially as I’ll be seeing lots of old chums I haven’t seen for years. But will I really be able to eat, not drink and still make merry?
To be continued...
Hilly Janes is the author of Latte or Cappuccino , 125 Decisions That Will Change Your Life (£9.99, Michael O’Mara Books).