09 September 2005

Abstinence (If Only)

Lord, it's been a busy week. A new academic year, and suddenly the library is swarming with students. Of course their disconcerting enthusiasm will abate before very long, but at the moment they keep pestering us for advice and information, sitting on the furniture, moving the books, and generally causing chaos and disruption to our neat and orderly library. Obviously this isn't the kind of behaviour I want to encourage... but my hands (unlike the grubby little fingers of the students) are tied.

Seriously, it's bedlam. I meant to update this blog at work on Tuesday, but I really haven't had the time all week.

I promised that I'd explain the rationale behind my frankly deranged decision to give up coffee... and, well, it's nothing terribly profound, really: I was drinking too much of it, and wanted to cut down. Unfortunately, too much and too regular caffeine generates a genuine, honest-to-goodness addiction -- with symptoms like mood swings, stress, irritability, excessive tiredness, trembling, headaches and the like -- and the only way to shake this off completely is to go into full-on withdrawal for a period of eight weeks. By the end of that time (or so my medical friend R. assures me) all the effects are expunged, and one can either swear off the noxious brew forever, or once again start taking it in moderation as a stimulant.

In the meantime, of course, one isn't allowed coffee or tea in any form (including decaff, in which enough traces remain to tide the addiction over... I just hope mint tea isn't addictive, fattening or carcinogenic, because at the moment I'm more or less drowning in it). And, of course, one has to deal with the withdrawal symptoms, which (predictably and hilariously) include stress, mood swings, irritability, excessive tiredness, headaches, trembling...

In my case, the problem is compounded by the fact that I can only write with any degree of creativity when I'm caffeinated to the gills, which means my present, temporary, sabbatical from trying to write creatively is my only realistic opportunity to detox. I'm appreciating the downtime -- with any luck I can return to writing in November, refreshed and reinvigorated and brimming over with scintillating ideas. (Mixed metaphor there, unless you envisage the ideas as comprising a fluid which also scintillates. You see the kind of thing I'm up against.)

I'm temporarily back on the diet as well, to purge the pizza and burritos and pasta and sausages and mezze and cooked breakfasts and cookies and doughnuts and beer I consumed at Greenbelt. From this point of view Saturday was somewhat non-optimal, as B. and I visited the Bristol Organic Food Festival.

It's a fantastic, huge event, sprawling along two banks of the harbourside, with stall after stall after stall offering delicious organic goodies and, in many cases, offering free samples to taste. Said samples are, of course, tiny, but wandering around accepting morsels of bread, cheese, oil, vinegar, pate, wine, beer, crisps, chocolate, cake and the like for long enough adds up to a pretty hearty lunch. (There was some gorgeous-smelling organic coffee as well, which naturally was off-limits.) We ended up spending far too much money, and came away with wine, amaretto, cheese, pâté, chocolate, lemon curd and brownies in four varieties (standard, white chocolate, coconut and, fantastically, chilli flavour), all in a big bag.

In the evening we dragged our friend M. out to The Wellington, where we ended up eating reasonably decent veggie chilli and drinking extremely decent Bath Ales. A very satisfactory day in many ways, but not terribly so for the welfare of my waistline.

The rest of the weekend continued to be remarkably relaxing, certainly relative to the hecticness of this week and the week before. I spent most of it just lounging around, and found that I had some time for things like reading, watching DVDs, stroking the cats and the like. OK, some of the DVDs were for research purposes, but still.

It means I'm really looking forward to the forthcoming weekend -- which, thank heavens, will be starting in just under half an hour. Hurrah.

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