NME’s Columnist Katherine Ryan On Dry January – “If Anything, I Think We Should Drink More”

Implementing a 2016 resolution? If you spotted your pissing self in the now-viral photo collection of NYE revellers, fighting bouncers or lying spread-eagled in streets across the nation, maybe a Dry January is just what you need. Your humiliated family would appreciate it. But quitting drinking isn’t for everyone. I got uncharacteristically drunk on 21 December, so those texts you got weren’t from me. The calls? I pocket-dialled.

Like Elf and Miracle On 34th Street, it all happened in the magical setting of New York City. My mum had just landed to spend the holidays with my daughter and me, so I figured I was safe to have a drink at a 4:30pm show by world-renowned tapping babes, The Rockettes. What I didn’t expect is that they put Fireball (spoiler: it’s booze) into pints of cider, you know, because, Christmas!

Mum and I had two of those, but she was born in the 1960s and grew up with three brothers, so nothing touches her. Mum has never been drunk in her life. This invulnerability has been passed down to me in a terrifying genetic mutation. I get drunk invisibly. When high school parties spiralled out of control, I was always the one voted to open the door and speak to the police. I was smooth, I was smart, and I didn’t stagger. They’d leave thinking, ‘That sober 15-year-old sure was respectful’ and I’d get back to my 10th round of naked beer pong.

I must have been utterly smashed when we left the theatre, because I suggested we go to a crowded toy store in Times Square, where I proceeded to buy my daughter everything. The two of us skipped up and down the aisles with armfuls of dolls from cartoons we don’t even like. Mum knew something was wrong the minute I started making friends. I grew up in Canada, but I’m British now and we don’t talk to strangers, so you can imagine her horror when she saw me exchanging phone numbers with the cashier, whose hair I was emphatically complementing. ‘This isn’t right’, Mum said, ‘You aren’t nice.’

Being friends with recovering alcoholics, I know that one of the 12 steps to sobriety is apologising to the people in your life for hurting them. If I went teetotal, I’d need to do that in reverse. ‘I’m sorry for the ways that my drinking has affected you. I’m sorry for saying that I think you’re the future of R&B and that you’re one of my best friends. You aren’t and you’re not. I’m sorry for going on and on about how much I think you look like Emma Stone. She uniquely achieves the perfect balance of familiarity and unattainability – that’s the whole point of the girl-next-door thing in film, are you insane? It would be a stretch to say you look like Emma Stone’s distant cousin.’

There’ll be a lot of ‘everything you need to know about detoxing’ this month. Not here. If anything, I think we should drink more. Water for a start.