"Take a drink. Go on, take a drink"

It's no secret I have some problems when it comes to drinking. Somewhere along the line my "stop" button got broken and there have been times when I have had several drinks too far. I have had blackouts, found myself coming-to in places I have no recollection of choosing to go, sometimes with people I can't even remember meeting. I have lost hours, days. Once I found myself being hovered over by two paramedics: I was in a foetal position and yelling - drinking had released a traumatic memory and I had regressed to the age of around 8. I remember seeing my friends and flatmates looking pale and stunned, the paramedics very pissed off and all I felt was shame and confusion. The hangover the next day seemed like a welcome punishment - it was a pain I could understand- unlike the pain both numbed and released by drinking. My flatmates avoided me and my friends were almost painfully concerned. It was frightening.

Sure, I can drink "socially" perfectly safely (for example, I'm perfectly content having the odd one or two with Theo and I never feel as though there is any pressure to have "just one more...") and I have had some great boozy parties and softly winey evenings . I know that I need to steer clear of spirits in almost every shape and form, but I also have to be aware that one drink too far can take me further than I would ever want to go, particularly if I am feeling nervous, anxious, emotional or vulnerable in any way.

I can become frightening when drunk. Howlingly drunk isn't just a colourful phrase, it can be my reality. Self-pity overwhelms me, and I obliterate myself to get rid of it. Drink becomes a cushion between me and the world: I cancels me out so I am no longer there and don't have to feel the discomfort and fear. I am weak when it comes to drinking.

My workplace has a drinking culture. It's not unusual in frontline services working with the homeless - tough work leads to hard play, or something like that. I'm not convinced. I'm also somewhat alienated from the team-building drinks - I've avoided them on two different occasions, citing different excuses each time. I'm not sure how many more excuses I can come up with... So far this week all conversation has been focused on a leaving do that happened last Friday- the do I missed, very much deliberately. I was interrogated by a team member as to why I was absent. I had the handy "excuse" of both being on annual leave and recovering from a visit to the dental hospital, but I felt harassed and flustered - and angry that I should feel as though I needed an excuse to not turn up to something outside of work hours.

Even the thought of going out socially with my colleagues fills me with dread. I don't want to have to explain that I have a problem with binge drinking- and I don't feel comfortable enough with them to just have "one or two". I know I won't get "howlingly drunk" - but I don't want to feel the pressure that I should even get mildly inebriated. Drinking soft drinks isn't an option. Within the Scottish "take a drink" culture -particularly this organisation's "drink as play" culture- I might as well admit to murdering small fluffy animals as to preferring an orange juice. I'm worried that I won't be seen as part of the team unless I adopt the culture of the team (somehow ironic for an agency that does youth work and tries to empower young people to avoid peer pressure and to make healthier choices when it comes to drink and drugs) but I don't want to be part of a culture that damages me. I can't risk damaging myself for the sake of a job, regardless of how that decision affects how I will be perceived.

There is an "away day" coming up- a team-building "fun" away day that will inevitably end up with drinks. Attendance is obligatory - all work, all client visits, all shifts, stop for the day. I'm already dreading it- and I don't know how I will be able to get through it without taking a drink, or explaining just why I really would prefer not to.

A load of old ballots (and other stories)

Well, being a poll clerk was fun.

-Incompetent No. 1 Presiding Officer who couldn't even get the size of his trousers right let alone a ballot box, miserable old trout fellow poll clerk, ramming ballot papers into the poorly designed boxed with a 30cm ruler, 16 hour day with no breaks, confused old folk and ceaseless repetition of the new voting procedures notwithstanding.

Ok, so fun might be an overstatement, but it has certainly given me a huge insight into why the democratic system in this country is so...crappy. (The SNP really have got in by default, I would say - and one seat does not a resounding victory make, so stop looking so fucking smug Alex Salmond - you've completely pissed on Nicola Sturgeon's chips too, and you really shouldn't mess with her: she's feisty. Watch your back you greasy, power-hungry, toadfaced fuckwit *taps nose* I'll say no more.)

I have nothing but respect for the the older generation - however, if you didn't vote and yet you moan about how the country is going to hell in a handbasket, well, blame the pensioners! They turn out in droves, every single election while the younger generation stay at home or go to the pub. Mind you, a fair number of them were totally befuddled by the newfangled voting, so that might account for the 100squillion disregarded/spoilt ballot papers. They still outnumbered younger electors by at least 3:1 though... Something to think about, anyway...

Oh! And while clerking I spotted a horrific ghost from the past: Evil Bitch Colleague. She was the one who made a lot of whiny-wheedly noise and did fuck all, flirted and flashed her tits at the boss (-the straight line manager, not the gay director: that would have been redundant to say the least. Mind you, she was boyishly flat-chested without the help of a Wonderbra, so maybe it would have worked...But I digresss) and took all the glory for the grafting I did. Then she managed to do some emotional manipulating for good measure. We ended up almost hissing at each other in a very small office and even communicating via email was an effort. Not nice.

Anyhow, she was looking like shit and as though she was perhaps not doing as well as her crowing would have predicted. Heh. She was also voting Green*. Hippy.

In other news, the furry bun is quite binkytastic and well, ta. Less soft poo, too, which is a blessing.The BFV declared her a "bonny wee thing" then, with a whiskery roguish smile , proceeded to tell horrific tales of bunnies he'd encountered with myxomatosis while deftly administering an injection. I do like the BFV. Tales of bunny deaths notwithstanding (the moral of the story was actually about the importance of preventative treatments unless small furry tragedy were to ensue...) he cares. His surgery is also somewhat cleaner than the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary - a place I know all too well, alas.

I'm visiting the ERI again tomorrow, by the way. Seems that although my broken ankle has healed, I have a "mysterious unevenness" at the bottom of my fibula. ("Oh, I bet you say that to all the girls, doctor...") Once more, a few hours will be killed at the fracture clinic, where no doubt I will be met by a mustard-trousered orthopaedic registrar who will have that "whip the limb off - I haven't done a good amputation in ages" glint in his (and so far it has always been a "his"...) eye.

Anything else? Oh, probably. Theo and I have some pretty exciting news, but I'll sit on it for a while, if that's OK. And work is work. Picking up a bit. Actually getting to meet clients and "engage with young people" -which is the fun bit. The radio is pissing me off still. I downloaded some Chumbawamba onto my harddrive to distract me/give me hope. It works. "If they tell you you can't, then you can."

So true. So very true...

*Actually, the Greens have some reasonable policies/ideas - but appeal to folk in a "politics for people that don't like politics and/or soap" way. Which is not exactly what a modern political party should pander to, in my humble blah blah blah. I'm using it as a very specific form of abuse for this particular wishy washy waste of DNA- no offence meant to any other Greens ;-) I actually admire the politicking Robin Harper and Patrick Harvie have managed in allying with the SNP to form a minority government. Nice work! Er... Maybe I should shut up now...