#SoberforOctober: A father and son story

4 November 2011 UPDATE: Well, I did it – bar *one day* where I was sat on the head table at a friend’s wedding; managing to remain polite but limiting myself to three drinks all night. However, little was I to know when I took on the challenge this was to be a very hard month for me; as serendipity would have it it was the focus of sobriety that helped me see it through.

My father was diagnosed with, operable, cancer but at a late stage – and in the last week has lost his entire nose, his neck lymph nodes, and a facial nerve in surgery to excise it. Just a tiny bit of chemo and six weeks of radiotherapy to go. I have really appreciated the support of those of you who knew about it and have wished him and our family well. His unwavering positivity has been an absolute inspiration to me, and I want him to know I’m proud of him (he knows).

Watch this space for my dad sharing his story actually – and possibly some fundraising activity for Rarer CancersChanging Faces and the fantastic St George’s Hospital, Tooting. Feel free to donate to them, or the charity my wife works for – the equally excellent Maggies.

The challenge – 30th September 2011

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably have noticed my penchant for local independent sushi and Musetti coffee bar (yes, you read that right), Impression Café, in Victoria. This place – and its proprietors – are just the best, and I could wax on about it for ages, but this isn’t the space. I always err towards local, family and small businesses if I can, because I lament the once-heterogeneous city streets now lined by chain store after sodding Tesco after bloody Starbucks.

I’m also going through a bit of a health kick (aided by my sushi lunches, and the unseasonably warm weather encouraging me to run outside). So, big hat-tip to Ross Bailey for giving me a heads up on a campaign that combines a) getting a tad healthier, and b) sticking up for independents.

Sober October (also using the hashtag #booksnotbeer) is a campaign “for book lovers” devised by Stefanie Posavec and Kristen Harrison (the latter of Arty Peeps – who have created the website for free).

The idea is simple: work out the money you save from abstaining from alcohol during October – and spend it in an independent bookshop of your choosing when the month ends. It doesn’t have to be the whole month the website concedes, but count up the cash every time you would have bought booze – and use this to buy books for yourself and others in time for Christmas.

I love the simplicity, ethos, and low entry barrier for Sober for October (not to mention that is doesn’t mind you ‘cheating’, which is great for me as I have a good friend’s birthday and a wedding in October, for which it would just be rude not to partake in an alcoholic toast or six).

pic by Flickr user Kate Pugh

I’m choosing Copperfields to support; a nostalgic second hand bookshop in Wimbledon – the only independent bookstore in the area (and one of the only independent shops in Wimbledon full stop).

So, if you’re looking for a reason to ease up on the alcohol – why not consider going sober for October yourself? But play the game – don’t spend your savings on clothes or – ultimate sin (!) – on a popular online shop that rhymes with “Schmamazon”…And I promise not to spend mine on sushi. Deal?

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