Thursday, 30 April 2015

Role Models

DAY 60!!!

I heard yesterday that a new movie of Absolutely Fabulous is being released. I was overcome by a huge wave of nostalgia for the wonderful Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Jennifer Saunders).

In the early 1990s, when I was in my twenties, Absolutely Fabulous (or AbFab as we called it), was my favourite comedy sitcom - along with Friends, obviously. Not only did I adore Patsy and Edina - I actually wanted to be them.

And with my great fondness for nicotine and alcohol, plus my high paying advertising job, love of Harvey Nichols and convertible sports car, I was a pretty good approximation. For me, they were not an ironic comedy duo, they were role models.

So when I heard the news yesterday I looked them up on YouTube for a trip down memory lane (isn't the interweb just marvellous?).

Now please, please check out this compilation of 'Edina and Patsy's Finest Moments'. The amount they drink, in just this seven minutes, is horrifying. But at the time I honestly thought that drinking every day, and with abandon, was cool, rebellious, kooky and cocking a snoop at the establishment and the uninspired.  Just like Patsy and Edina.

These two were obviously extreme examples, but they weren't my only role models. My parents drank every evening. Gin and tonics before dinner. Wine with dinner. And, for my Dad, a brandy or whisky afterwards. They were never drunk, but often drinking.

All my friends drank, at least they did whenever we met up, and I assumed they did at home too. I never felt any concern, stigma or shame about daily drinking, or drinking at home alone.

The 1990s were, if you remember, the era of the 'ladette'. The cool girls who refused to be demure and cute, but worked hard and played hard with the men. Zoe Ball, Denise van Outen, Tara Palmer Tomkinson and the like, were pictured out drinking hard every evening (or so it seemed).

One of my main reasons for quitting now is so my three children don't grow up thinking that drinking every day is normal. Their example will be a mother who doesn't drink at all, and a father who drinks from time to time in moderation (goddamn him!).

Then, hopefully, even if they've inherited my 'caution to the wind' genes, they will at least question their habits well before I ever did. With luck, and good role models, they will keep their cucumbers unpickled (see Moderation. Is it Possible Part 2 if you don't get the cucumber reference - it's important!) and be happy, moderate drinkers throughout their lives.

I could hate Patsy and Edina for leading me astray, but I only have myself to blame and, the truth is, I still have a huge fondness for them in all their flawed fabulousness. The problem is that their new film, I'm sure, will portray them as unchanged - still chuffing and chugging away twenty five years later.

Yet we all know that, if that were really the case, they'd either be in rehab or dead. But where's the comedy in that?

An absolutely fabulous day to all of you.

SM x


  1. Thank you Sober Mummy! I have taken the plunge and I am on day 6. I was looking to cut down on my drinking about a month ago and I ran across your blog. I have been reading ever since. On your recommendation, I have read Jason Vale and Allen Carr's books. I followed those by reading Craig Beck's book, Alcohol Lied to Me, and The Sober Revolution by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca. Finally I received the message I needed to hear.....time to stop! My story is similar to yours. I am a stay at home mom of three (across the pond in America) and wine o'clock has been a regular time of day in my social circles. I am feeling so tired (and hungover oddly) these last few days and slept later this morning then I have in years. I went back and read your day 6 post and felt relieved to see what you had written. I am stressing a bit about what to say to friends. I am curious to know how you have handled that situation.

    1. Welcome neinwine, and huge congrats! I was exhausted initially - don't worry, it'll get better soon! And the hangover feeling is detoxing. I bet you'll feel physically fine in a few days - then you just need to keep working on your head ;-). I still haven't 'come out' to friends. I don't feel ready yet to deal with all the questions. For the moment I say that I'm driving/detoxing/giving up 'for a bit'. Stay in touch, and big hugs x

  2. Day 7 for me guys! I am a bit irritable this week but not as bad as when I have a hangover! Your blog is great SoberMummy and I look forward to reading it each day. I too loved Ab Fab and quite admired Eddie and Patsy in the 1990's. The re runs were recently shown on Sky and the alcohol involved was rather shocking really when you look back! I think the irony of the comedy is that nobody would really want to be like them though as they often were quite tragic figures in some episodes. Keep up the fantastic work on the blog! And thank you again for your anecdotes they are fab!

    CB xxx

    1. Hi CB, and huge congrats on 7 days! Thanks so much for your comments - I've been feeling really grumpy this evening, so you really cheered me up! Hugs SM x

  3. Dear SM,
    Way to go on day 60!
    I am glad you are being a good role model for your children!
    So important!

  4. Love this... I also loved AbFab, and wanted to "grow up" to be Patsy. On viewing the compilation, I'd forgotten how tragic they really were. And SO much booze. I also want to set my three kids a good example, perhaps I'll turn into Saffy after all!!!

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  6. I am desperately trying to catch up with this blog but still on April - anyway felt compelled to respond to this post. I also loved AbFab - watching it in the JCR of my college with at least 40 girls and copious amounts of vodka (shot of the time then). I have loved Bolly ever since.

    However, my role model came from another TV program that had a huge effect on the way I viewed alcohol - It was called Thirtysomething.

    It was a US series where people in their 30's battled with life problems and my teenage self thought they were all so grown up and "free" that I wanted to be them. And I noticed that when they were dealing with the latest problem, they would always crack open the wine! This made a lasting impression with me as my ambition when doing my A-levels was to live in London, in my own flat where I was able to come home after work, open the fridge and pour myself a lovely glass of Chardonnay (nothing else then - Asti Spumante didn't have the same allure).

    This, to me, was the height of sophistication and a sign that I had made it - a successful adult. Little did I know but alcohol has featured ever since when I have been dealing with problems until it became THE problem.

    These alcohol abundant role models are still on TV (Brothers and Sisters, The Good Wife etc etc) and will still be there to make an impression on our kids so I totally agree that the best way to provide positive influences for our kids is from the home BUT I also think they need to know how we suffered. I, therefore, hope that I will be able to, some day, talk to them about my problem (once I have come to terms with it and the secrecy and shame of it) - that is why, SM, your blog is so good. If your kids ever ask, you can direct them to all the archives so that they can see how problematic alcohol was (in real time) and how your strength provided them with a much better mother and supporter.