Every year, on the first Tuesday in November, there is a horse race held in Melbourne, Australia. It lasts about four minutes. But they’re not just any four minutes. They are four minutes of Melbourne Cup magic. For all the palaver that surrounds it, you’d think that cup was full of the elixir of eternal youth or something. Actually it’s overflowing with money, but that’s another story. Anyway, for the Melbourne Cup, Australia stops. It downs tools, puts on suits, frocks and outrageous hats, bets its hard earned cash, and sinks a bucketload of piss. Oh yeah, and enjoys four minutes of heady, racing excitement. It’s all pretty fun actually. The race is definitely my favourite part. And why am I writing about it? Well it’s all happening today for one thing. For another, it was this day last year, and all the truly drunken madness that came with it, that necessitated my taking a year off alcohol. It was the mother of a hangover the next day that finally saw me say, now what was it? “Fuck you alcohol” I believe it might have been. And here I am one year later (give or take a couple of days), the most free from alcohol I have probably ever been in my adult life. It’s worth a moment. (Pause.) As I approach the very end of my self-enforced sobriety stint, I must admit I am a little scared. How will alcohol sit with me after all this time? How will my body and brain react? Will I make a complete cock of myself? Will I just slip back into habitual drinking like everybody else? Or am I just building the whole thing up way too much? Maybe I’ll like it, maybe I won’t. I’ll find out in a couple of days, and whatever happens, I’m pretty sure I can handle it.