Monday, 31 January 2011

Dry February

Over the past 24 hours I've taken the entirely arbitrary and capricious decision that I'm not going to drink any alcoholic drinks during February 2011. A long time ago someone asked me if I could stop drinking for a month, and my response ever since has been "yes, but I don't want to". Well, so much for that cliché, I'm not particularly sure I do want to, but I've decided to, and I'm now making a public commitment.

(I'll also be spending February getting back into the gym and the swimming pool properly for the first time in 6 months -the two are not entirely unrelated. You might also have observed that I've chosen the shortest month of the year for this particular experiment... coincidence? Well, I think so...)

Unfortunately, I don't think a public commitment is likely to actually stop me from drinking any alcohol at all in 2011 - I just don't mix with people who disapprove strongly enough of drinking alcohol (in fact, it's much more common for me to mix with people who disapprove of *not* drinking alcohol). Social opprobrium just won't do it.

So, I'm going to have my own personal little StickK contract (yes, for those in the know, that is a little bit like a "PIN number"). If I knowingly drink any alcoholic beverage between midnight tonight and midnight on February 28, 2011, I will donate £200 to... the Church of England.

I've been thinking for a while about which not-quite-worthy cause I could choose, and I think the C of E is probably a good compromise. If I say I'll give the money to the London Homeopathic Hospital (which was my first choice) then I'm pretty sure that I just won't do it even if I lose. On the other hand, while I pretty violently disagree with the C of E about just about everything, I'm at least willing to countenance the possibility that the marginal pound in their collection plates is a force for good.

So... why am I posting this? Partly because I want to get it out there. This is the sort of thing that isn't worth doing if you don't do it publicly, and partly (this is basically the same reason) because I want anyone who reads this and sees me in February to help enforce it. Seriously, you see me with a drink in my hand, you tell me there and then to get my chequebook out (I won't have it with me, but actually, I would guess it's possible to donate to the C of E online, so I might well be able to it instantly).

Why am I not taking a StickK contract out? Partly because I haven't quite figured out their business model - how do they make money if the users don't pay them any? Partly because I'm pretty sure one has no control over who the money goes to if you do lose. And partly because I want to see if it's necessary. If you have a blog, and if enough of your friends read it, does that replace the need for StickK?

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