I Can’t Get Into My Office

I have inexplicably forgotten the code to the my office’s entrance door.

The outer lock of the staff entrance to my building is one of those old fashioned ‘push the buttons together but in the right order’ deelies, but it may as well be the Rubix cube from hell these days. I’ll be working from home from now on, someone inform my boss.

I USED to know it. Oh yes, I pride myself in being really rather good at remembering sequential actions. I was told the code once on the first day, and remembered it instantly. In hindsight, I probably should have written it down.
Because it’s not like I ask can ask anyone I work with what the code is, is it? I’ve worked there for more than a year. I’m technically a manager in that I am an actualmanager. Managers are supposed to KNOW this stuff. I can’t just waltz in one morning, high five everyone, and say ‘hey pals, can anyone tell me what the code is to enter this building because I’m either that stupid OR I’ve had a mild stroke?’ They’d take away my biscuits again.
And also, I can’t ask my team because I can’t get into my frigging office!!!
Every morning for days – DAYS – I have sauntered up to the back door, happy and chirpy, wondering what that strange imposing sense of dread is until I reach out for the door handle, and it all comes flooding back. Yes, it’s true – I even forget that I’ve forgotten something.
The scene either plays out in one of two ways – and bare in mind that while my office entrance is not on a busy high street, it is visible to some passers-by.
The first sees me frantically punching in random combinations of code and hammering the handle with gritted teeth. There’s only so many times you can do this, before you have to pretend that you didn’t actually want to go into the building because of a very very important text message that needs addressing straight away. And lo, there you stand, pretending to text until someone else arrives for work and lets you in. Every time I act like nothing is wrong. It’s just a web of lies, day in, day out.
Scenario two is much more pathetic. In this situation, I stand for literally minutes outside the door, hand hovering in the air, staring wide-eyed at the combination pad, willing myself to remember or for the door to stop being such a bastard and just open by itself. Surely I’m due one free magical door opening by now. 
But wait. It gets more tragic.
The other day, I went out for lunch alone and returned a short while later, deeeply immersed in the music I was listening to on my phone.  I suddenly looked up, and found myself inside the building, the offending door swinging closed behind me; I had punched in the right code without even thinking about it and walked in without a second glance.  
‘Christ, I did it!’ I cried, and then cracked my knuckles and hurtled back outside of my own free will, and let the door slam shut. Nothing to fear, I smirked. The same luck would surely repeat itself and I would punch in the code again without thinking and this time, I would memorise it.
Did I bollocks.

Quitting Diet Coke & The Terrible Thirst

Me: You know what’s great about giving up diet coke?

Ben: What?

Me: NOTHING!! Nothing is good about giving up diet coke, it’s fucking pointless and stupid and pointless! Seriously, I have not noticed any difference!! No headaches, no increased energy, no improved hydration! I’m losing weight only because I’m dieting in the week AND THAT’S ANOTHER THING! I’m not eating carbs during the week, I’m not drinking during the week, I’m limiting sugar and I ALSO can’t drink diet coke! It’s double balls and bollocks!!!!

Ben: (pauses while he finishes his toast) Your skin looks better.

Me: I…! What?

Ben: Your skin is very bright. You’ve drinking more water, and you have less blemishes.

Me: …Really?

Ben: Yes.

Me: Oh. Oh. Well. Wait, are you saying I had blemishes before?

(Ben puts his head in his hands)


It’s fair to say that I have a problem. Yes, yes, we all enjoy my many ramblings about the drinking of gin and the drinking of beer and why drinking is great and why you should all be drinking all of the time. But this isn’t about THAT. This post is entirely alcohol free. Like a Becks Blue. Or a really well behaved child.

My one and true addiction is diet coke. An addiction I recently kicked. And I’m feeling reeeaallly pissy about it.

That’ll do, Diet Coke. That’ll do.

I could no more avoid the lure of a ‘healthy January’ than you lot could. (Don’t pretend you did spend the majority of this month juicing cucumbers in an effort to remove those festive pounds and that hump of residual alcohol). For the most part, I was perfectly happy with my plan: no carbs or alcohol during the week, limited sugar, and buckets of water. And I joined the gym a couple of days ago (I know – ME), and am now constantly sore and in Lycra. So far, I’ve lost 5lbs in 3 weeks (without exercise) and have only another 7lbs to go before I hit my ‘woooo MAMA’ weight.

YET. I made a decision on 12th January to cut out Diet Coke once an for all.

Yep. Courtesy of Jezebel.com

I used to drink Diet Coke the same way normal people drink tea or coffee, or water: all the time, every day, morning noon and night. Before the Diet Coke ban, I would quaff two to three 500ml bottles of ice cold DC at work – one at around 9am – and would drink another couple of glasses at home, and swig from my big fridge bottle every so often before bed. At the weekends, I’d probably get through two to three litres. I would also open little bottles while shopping because I couldn’t wait until I got home to quench my thirst.

I’m not sure when the addiction started (though I’m pretty sure Dad was hooked on the stuff), but I drink it because I genuinely love the taste. No other brand of diet cola has ever come close (don’t get me started on Pepsi). I love the refreshing tangy fizz, I love how it makes hangovers go away, I love pouring myself a tall frosty glass while I do the house work on Saturday mornings. And given that I have to watch nearly everything I eat, a tasty one calorie beverage is a welcome friend in dark times.

Thank you Buzzfeed

But aside from the taste, part of me kept drinking the brown stuff just to annoy the never ending stream of c***s who delighted in lecturing me about the horrors of all diet sodas.

Oh I NEVER tired of strangers confronting me in shops, crying ‘oh you shouldn’t drink that stuff, love, full of chemicals it is!” Nine times out of ten, their breath was thick with the stench of fags. I NEVER got a stress headache from being told ‘oh, we don’t have soft drinks’ by conference organizers while they flooded boardrooms with industrial strength coffee. Once, a broken-toothed man lying on the pavement outside Oddbins, and swigging some sort of thick blue liquid from a plastic jar, clocked my bottle of DC and shook his head pityingly.

When did Diet Coke become a drink so demonized that meth heads could pass judgement on it? Coffee & tea are so mainstream that no one bats an eyelid when Glenda from Purchasing staggers to the office peculator for her fifth cup before 11am. Yet when it comes to Diet Coke, all you get are lectures on how aspartame will strip out your insides and bring back Nazi Germany.
 
So why give it up, and grant the evil hordes their victory dance? Eh. There’s no denying DC is full of nasty additives and chemicals. It has just one calorie, but it more than makes up for that in pure unadulterated evil.

So. Here’s how it’s been going…

No withdrawal symptoms

The crippling headaches I had been promised by various websites, magazines and witch doctors did not arrive. On my first day of quitting, I did feel a bit more sluggish but simply compensated with an extra cup of tea (I only have 2 or 3 a day in total, no sugar), and lots of extra water. But I was otherwise fine, and have done ever since. I’m guessing the caffeine wasn’t affecting me as much as I thought.

…Except for some minor stomach cramps

Fizzy chemical-laden drinks have clearly taken their toll on my innards, as I noticed some mild  stomach aches and a dash of nausea when I had my morning cup of tea in the first week. My body’s new wake-up call of boiling plant stew and cow juice in place of fizzy acid was not appreciated. It didn’t last long, but it did make me wonder….what damage have I been doing to my stomach for it to react so?

I am thirsty all the time – and always have been

I’ve miss the taste of Diet Coke. Badly. I associate the taste with the quenching of my thirst, and I hate other liquids for not stepping up to the mark. Which brought me to the more worrying revelation…

I have a terrible thirst. I’ve never noticed just how much liquid I drink and how fast I drink it. I’ve been guzzling diet coke like there was no tomorrow, as it was my main source of fluid, but any drink I have to hand is gulped down rapidly: water, tea, and our good friend alcohol. It’s part of the reason I drink pints when I’m out – it’s a long drink and I see it as value for money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a round and then watched friends delicately sip their mixers for 30mins, while I slump gasping on the table, begging for it to be someone’s round soon.

I had to drink all of this wine to compensate for the loss of Diet Coke. HAD to.

Honestly, this was something I only ever really worried about with booze, but now I see that I have probably been under-drinking on all counts, and have needed to up my water intake for some time. I’ve also reduced my salt consumption accordingly*

Hangovers from hell

Oh this was not fun. My first morning after a night on the booze, I woke with a pounding headache. I’d had four pints and quite a bit of water, which normally leaves me trouble free. But the pain in my head persisted until around lunchtime. Maybe it’s the bitterness talking, but I was convinced a Diet Coke would have sorted that bad boy right out.

The next instance was worse. After a night at a friend’s house, where we drank all the wine in Ashford, I woke up feeling like death and barely made it through our fry up. On the walk home, I begged Ben to get me some sparkling water – anything to replicate the DC taste – and spent the next couple of hours under the duvet, hugging the water bottle, whispering ‘it’s not the same, I’ll never love you like I loved it’.

My skin and my body – HELLO

It was half way into week two when I launched into my opening rant with the beau. And unfortunately, he was right. The lack of cola and the increase in water has made a difference. My skin is looking brighter than normal, and blemishes vanish much quicker than usual. I also feel…I don’t know, a bit cleaner? I think this is down to me having a lot more water during the day, and it is the one thing keeping me on track.

Has DC really been the cause of those pesky little blemishes cropping up on my chin? Has my shocking lack of water been pushing me slowly towards the grave and ugliness? Will I survive this coming weekend, where Miscriant and I will attempt to break Brighton?

Let’s see how this bad boy plays out.

Have you quit Diet Coke? How did you find it? What have been the best and worst parts of your struggle? Tell me about it, please, or I’ll get bored and lonely.

*My sister will enjoy reading this statement as she has, for years, claimed I have way too much salt in my food. This is based on one occasion TWELVE YEARS GO when she visited me when I was ill and tried a bit of food from a plate that I had abandoned and actually screamed about the salt in it. I had left that food because I had accidentally spilled salt on it and I found it inedible, but she would not be told. Since then, I have been a salt addict in her eyes. She still doesn’t believe me, she thinks I’m sprinkling salt on this blog right now, even as I type.

Happy birthday to the blog, everyone look at me

(The world scampers to The DG’s office door, and raps upon it excitedly)

World: Come out! Come out! You must come out, it’s your birthday!
(Sound of empty bottles clattering to the floor)
Me: Hmm, what what? I’m awake, I’m awake, I was writing, I swear to God I was writing! (Sound of the Invictus advert playing on loop) Oh Christ, close down, close down! Where the hell is the mouse?!
World: But Demon Gin, you must come out, you’re one year old and there is fun to be had!
Me: (Rubbing bridge of nose) Ok could everyone just SHHHHHHH for FIVE seconds?! Okay…..okay…okay…(sound of bottle being opened)….okay, what’s going on?

World: It’s your birthday! Open the door!

Me: It isn’t my birthday.
World: It is!
Me: It ISN’T.
World: But it IS!
Me: My birthday is in August!!! Unless….how long have I been in here?
World: No, you silly goose! It’s your otherbirthday!  Your blog’s birthday!
Me………OHHHHHHH! Yes, yes, it is! WellactuallyitwastechnicallymidDecember, but okay, let’s go with this.
World: Yes! And it’s also a brand new year, and we want to know your thoughts on the past 12months for some reason! Could you let us in? It’s quite difficult to keep this excited at a closed door.

Me: Fine, come in.
World: Thanks. So we want to know what you’ve learned in your wow there are a lot of empty bottles in here.
Me: I’ve been testing some new beers for a blog post.

World: And the pile of porn under the desk?
Me: …Blogging is a lonely business.
World: SO! Why don’t you run through your highlights from the past year? Tell us everything!
Me: Uhh…couldn’t you just read the blog?
World: Apparently not. You see, all bloggers are obliged to write a new year’s post summarizing all that they have experienced and accomplished in the previous 12months because writing about it every week/month was clearly not attention seek-y enough.

Me: (ponders) That is GENIUS

World:  We know! And if you could throw in a line or two about what you’ve learned and how you feel you’ve grown as a person, it’ll really give it some balls.

Me: Oh very well. First of all, here are my 2014 highlights.

In 2014, I…

    Directed my first play

    Went to the Edinburgh Festival and Las Vegas

    Redesigned the blog 

    Discovered more gin. Such lovely gins…

    Finally watched Silver Linings Playbook and 500 Days of Summer, and was sick in my mouth several times 

    Put many bars & restaurants to the test 

    Put beautiful (and some worrying) things on my face

    Ate a lot of salmon pate 

    Acted in plays. PLAYS

    Hung out with some cool cats

    Heard Wise Words and new Sounds

    And I think I lost this hat

     

    But I mainly had lots of fun with some pleasant people

     
    After one year of scribbling, I am still delighted to have this blog to my name. Seeing people like and comment on my posts has been an bigger buzz than I imagined, and it keeps me typing in my darkest moments. And without The Demon Gin, I would not have had the opportunity to visit Junipalooza or cover the fantastic Wise Words and Sounds New Festivals. I also would not have motivated myself to visit London’s incredible cat café, go tequila tasting or had the nerve to tell you all about how to find love on Valentine’s Day because my way is the only way that will work.
    This year, I intend to take stock and stick to a regular schedule with a mix of reviews and rants, and  to explore more options for promoting the blog via social media. FYI bloggers – sharing posts on Google+ has made  huge difference to my hits, so do not ignore it as a channel. I do need to make better use of Instagram, though, as it is one channel I neglect.
    God only knows why you keep reading my blog, but I love you for it. 2015 is here, tiny darlings, so let me know what you want to see more or less from The Demon Gin.
    Thanks to all you wonderful people who have been reading this little blog, and who have supported me. Thanks to the many establishments & events I have visited whose organisers were kind enough to share and repost my reviews. Thanks to Emma (my designer), to Becky (my mentor), to Canterbury (my home), and to those who love me and who I love in return.         

    As a final treat, here are some of the weirdest Google searches that have led people to my site:

    • Is gin good for your penis? (Yes. Yes it is)
    • i think i couldn’t live without internet (neither could I)
    • demon.com shoes (I am thinking of branching out)
    • it’s not ___ cat (what?)  

    See you soon, tiny darlings…

      Babies + Offices = Kirsty

      I sit in my office. I hear a strange sound in the distance, like a murder of crows crossed with stampeding elephants. I look up from my desk. 

      A woman I barely know is standing there, disheveled but looking oddly pleased about it. I’m not sure if she works here…maybe she’s from legal or….Oh Christ. 

      In her hand, I see it. A baby carrier. And it’s full.

      I have no time to escape. Already, middle aged women from departments far far away are tearing across the floor, arms open and drool flowing freely from their mouths. The mother (I can only hope she’s the mother) places the carrier proudly on an empty desk, and the hordes flock as the baby briefly wakes and screams. 

      Everyone coos and chirrups, and then pauses. All heads turn to me, still at my desk.
       
      I sigh, get up, and go to hover obligingly at the edge of the group as the infant is passed around. The entire office is handling this child, and I’m not even sure whose it is. A male colleague happens to be standing nearest the baby carrier, prompting one woman to cry out: “Ooooooooooo, look who is standing the closest to the baby carrier! YOU must be next!” Apparently babies are contagious. This makes me doubly nervous.

      The same woman then exclaims: “Oh Sinead hasn’t got kids – let her hold her baby!” 

      I protest frantically, but it’s no use. The baby is thrust into my arms, and everyone watches me as I try to make sure it doesn’t die for the next 40 seconds. I wish Emma was around. I like it when she brings in her child in to the office because I know its name. It’s Brody. Or something. 

      A colleague giggles at me: “Does it make you broody?” 

      “Well…no.” 

      “Oh come on! You don’t want one of your own?” 

      I shrug. “You’ll change your mind!” the mother says, sagely. “I guarantee, you will change your mind.” I find this hard to believe given that she has spent the last five minutes talking about her ripped perineum.  

      “Honestly, I’m not worried about it,” I explain, rocking the little one to sleep. 

      “But you haven’t got time,” an older woman sighs. “You’ve only got a couple of years left. What does your boyfriend think?” 

      I start to feel a bit annoyed. “He’s fine, he’s not sure about kids either. It’s not that important to us.” 

      Brows furrow and eyes darken. Baby (who was sleeping VERY soundly in my arms) is snatched back, and instantly starts to cry. The walking wombs make exaggerated eye rolls, as if the tears are somehow my fault. “Never mind,” one says. “You’re just not into kids.” 


      

      The Demon Gin, kirsty allsopp, biological clock, office babies, starting a family before uni
      Swirling, swirling towards a childless grave, you are!

      I’d like to say this little scene is a one off, but it’s a composite of many office encounters over the years. 

      Honestly I do NOT hate children. I hate YOU for making me look at yours.  Really, please stop showing your spawn to me if I don’t know you; all I know is that your baby came from someone’s balls.  

      So why pen this little tale? Ah come on, you know why. 

      Because Kirsty. Kirsty Kirsty Kirsty. 

      The “passionate feminist” standing on top of the Chesterfield, waving a massive biological clock and pelting you with baby booties and Tory trousers.

      Her comments in The Telegraph coincided with my composing this very blog, and began to seep into every draft I wrote.  

      I am not at all angry about her suggesting that it is okay to do family first, education second. Many wonderful women (AND MEN) chose not to go to university, for whatever reason, and started a family in their 20s. 

      When appearing on Newsnight the day after her comments made Twitter explode, she stated: “We’ve all had friends (…) who failed to understand this window because women haven’t been honest with other women; because there are still lots of things we struggle to achieve and there are still things that women struggle to get on equal terms, so this topic has been taboo.”
       
      What? When did mothers, sisters, co-workers and people you barely even know stop asking ‘when are you going to start a family? You mustn’t leave it too late dear!’ Has she not read the story that I JUST wrote?

      Or is it just me who is hearing this regularly? Is there an ancient prophecy somewhere proclaiming that my first born shall be the saviour of all mankind, or will invent a chicken that roasts itself? Is that why people are forever asking me about having kids?
       
      Back on the screen, Vagenda co-founder Holly Baxter responded to Allsopp: “Actually, I’m told that people are constantly reminded in the media about their fertility; about their biological clock ticking; about how they should choose between a career and a child, and how that should be mutually exclusive.”

      Oh thank God!

      As my little story should have demonstrated, we childless females are confronted with the ticking time bomb of our wombs daily. The number of people who have made brazen comments to me about what I ‘must really want’ in regards to motherhood far outweighs those who have made inferences about my career or education choices.

      The Demon Gin, kirsty allsopp, biological clock, office babies, starting a family before uni

      Which leads me to point two, the biggest fly in the ointment of my mellow mood. 

      If Kirsty had simply put her own views across on how to raise a daughter, and said “that’s just my opinion”, then fair enough. But she appeared to buckle, perhaps fearful that people might not agree with her, and so turned it into a ‘debate that needs to be had.’ 

      It’s a bit like going to the supermarket and picking up a bottle of sweet white wine, and then shouting at everyone else: “Everybody put down your baskets – I’m buying sweet white wine because I like it and I think we all need a debate about it! It’s a debate that needs to be had because I sometimes feel pressure for not buying Chablis. And Chablis is fine, but we really all should talk about this!” 

      For every person saying, “I want to have kids but society expects me to go to university and have a career”, there is someone else saying, “I want to go to university and have a career, but society expects me to have babies and raise a family before it’s too late.”  

      YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF. IT’S YOUR LIFE.  

      We have campaigned for equal rights for decades so we don’t have to have this kind of archaic conversation. Why is a personal lifestyle choice cause for national debate? Why do women have to be pulled into the lime light to explain why they are or are not going to university? 

      When asked how to get rid of racism, Morgan Freeman said: “Stop talking about it.” 

      The same applies to feminism. Raise awareness of inequality where needed, do not suffer prejudice and fight the good fight. But for GOD’s sake, can celebrities stop making issues out of nothing in the name of feminism? 

      One final point: what the hell is so wrong with adoption? Please don’t think I am implying that this is an easy step, because it isn’t. But parenthood does not begin and ends with your womb. My grandfather was adopted, one of my dearest friends was adopted. I urge you to read the blog of two friends and their story of adoption. http://thehouseofbailey.wordpress.com/adoption/  

      A woman who cannot conceive naturally can still be a mother. And a student. And employed. And a beers.