Wednesday 27 September 2017

Alcohol and Driving

So, the mayor of London has put Uber on the naughty step. 

I imagine that they will stay there for a couple of months, thinking about what they've done, then they'll proffer an apology and promise to start treating their drivers properly, report serious incidents in their cabs to the police and, you never know, maybe even pay some tax.

Then they'll be given their license back (thereby saving the jobs of 40,000 drivers - hurrah!) and told that they'd better keep getting smiley faces on the reward chart, or else.

A while back, the thought of living in the capital with no Uber would have been rather terrifying, but not now, because I am my own mini-cab!

One of the very best things about giving up booze, (along with the fact that, having lost the muffin top, I can now see my feet! And I can afford to buy great shoes to put on them!) is being able to drive ALL THE TIME.

If Mr SM and I have a 'date night' in a fancy West End restaurant, I don't need to book an expensive taxi to get us there and back. Oh no. I just drive and park right outside. Because nobody drives into central London at night time, so you can park anywhere. For free.

If I go to a party, when I decide it's time to go (usually in the middle of someone telling me a 'hilarious' story for the third time), I don't have to find the host to ask for the number for a cab firm, then try to sound sober while I book the cab, then try to look sober when I climb into it.

Oh no, I just leave surreptitiously, find my car (which is usually right outside) and drive home.

I even offer lifts around to all my drunk friends. It's a great way to stock up some brownie points, (or maybe make up for past misdemeanours). It's amazing how popular being a 'designated driver' can make you.

And one of the real joys is being able to sail past police cars confidently, knowing that there is absolutely no way that you are over the limit. 

In fact, I have been known to deliberately drive 'erratically' around police cars in the hope that they will breathalyse me, so I can watch with huge smugness while the light remains stubbornly on GREEN.

Even if you are incredibly responsible about drinking and driving, and always take a taxi or public transport home, there's always the niggling fear that you might just still be over the limit in the morning. On the school run. Or driving into work. 

Give up drinking, and that's totally impossible.

So, yet another fine reason to quit the booze.

In other news this week, the makers of Jaffa Cakes, in their wisdom, have decided to cut the number of biscuits (cakes?) in a pack from twelve to ten. It's a disaster.

During my early days of not drinking I mainlined Jaffa Cakes. Ten would not have been enough, would barely have touched the sides.

New this week on the SoberMummy Facebook page: some fabulous women talking to the BBC about giving up booze, the stories (and before and after pictures!) of fifteen celebs who have gone sober, including Angelina, Adele, Samuel L. Jackson and Drew Barrymore, and the funniest video I've seen in ages.

For inspiration, information and a few good laughs every weekday at wine o'clock, join the SoberMummy Facebook page. CLICK HERE, and 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all, 

SM x

Sunday 24 September 2017

Getting Through Wine O'Clock

The most difficult thing about giving up the drink is getting through the witching hour.

For me, it was longer than an hour - it stretched from around 5pm until about 8pm.

The clock seemed to move agonisingly slowly, and the wine witch would be jumping up and down inside my head yelling at me to stop being such a kill joy and just open a bottle of wine! (You don't need to drink the whole thing...)

I found that distraction really helped. Finding something interesting to read, or something funny to watch, or connecting with other people in the same boat.

Which is why I've created the SOBERMUMMY FACEBOOK PAGE! It's aimed at anyone who wants to quit or cut down on booze, or just drink more 'mindfully'.

I'm going to post something every weekday at wine o'clock UK time (I'm afraid that'll make it lunch time, or thereabouts in the USA) to inspire, inform or just entertain you.

There'll be newspaper articles, book reviews, mocktail recipes, TED talks, celebrity drinking stories (I know it's puerile, but I do love them. It makes me feel a little more glamorous) and much more. All upbeat and light-hearted - things you'll, hopefully, be happy to share.

If you check out my page now you'll find a the most widely shared TED talk on addiction, a newspaper article about Carol McGiffin drinking two bottles of wine a day, a wonderful video about parenting which I swear will make you cry (in a good way) as well as my favourite Absolutely Fabulous clip (because I blame Patsy and Edina for the pickle I found myself in!).

I'm on a mission to provide an antidote to all those drinking memes that crop up on your Facebook timeline!

All you need to do is to click the link here, or type SoberMummy into your Facebook search bar. Once you find my page, if you 'like' it Facebook will keep you updated with new stuff as I post it.

I'd love to make it all a proper community, so please do share, comment and message me via the page with any suggestions of content you'd like to see up there. You can also e-mail me on

Once we've got enough people on board I can set up some community areas like a 'Dry January' group or a '100 day challenge' group, so you can chat privately to people with the same goals as you and egg each other along.

So please, please drop in and 'like' my page (I'm aware I'm sounding needy!) I'd LOVE to see you there. And please leave any ideas, suggestions, issues in the comments below.

Love SM x


P.S. After two and a half years of blogging, I have finally managed to work out how to post images as well as words! That's my kitchen clock at the top of this post.

Thursday 21 September 2017

Will I Lose all my Friends?

This is the question that haunted me when I first quit drinking. In fact, I posted with this same title back on day 13. (To read that post click here).

And the truth is that I didn't lose any friends, in that no-one called me up to say Good God, you are SO BORING that I never want to see you again. (I really had expected that to happen).

What has happened, though, is that there are some friends who contact me a lot less. Needless to say, generally the ones who can't contemplate the idea of a night out without getting totally hammered, and don't want a sober person there pouring rain on their parade.

I'm not angry about this. I get it. I would have done the same, back in the day. I would have justified this to myself as being 'because they're no fun any more', when actually I was just worried that it would shine a light on my own out of control drinking.

This slight negative is, however, totally drowned out by the positive, which is that I have made lots of new friends. 

I hadn't made many new friends for years. It felt like too much effort. I was also somewhat aware that my old muckers would be more forgiving of any wayward antics than brand new, shiny friends.

But now I have a much wider social circle, including several women who hardly ever (or never) drink, the ones I would have written off in the past as being 'not my type.'

Then yesterday the lovely people at Go Sober for October sent me these fascinating statistics from a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support.


Apparently, 13% of adults (6.7 million people) have stopped going for a drink with at least one friend because they believe they drink too much.

And a Go Sober survey found that one quarter of UK adults avoid drinking with certain friends because of the way they behave after a tipple. 54% say their friend gets too aggressive, and 47% say they get too loud.

This is all driving a trend towards 'soberlising' - socialising without the booze - which is particularly popular amongst the young.

So, don't fret about losing your friends when you STOP drinking, worry about losing them if you CARRY ON!

And if you need some fabulous help and encouragement, then join my friends over at Go Sober for October.

(You'll also be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support who were a huge help to me through the whole breast cancer thingy).

In other news, are any of you called Nigel? Apparently NOT ONE baby was named Nigel last year in the UK. This makes me sad, as my first ever snog was a Nigel. On a school trip, aged eleven. Just saying.

Love to you all,

SM (Clare)

Monday 18 September 2017


An amazing thing has happened since I officially came out of the closet last week. (See my post: SoberMummy's Coming Out).

As well as posting here, I also posted my book cover on my Facebook page.

Now, I didn't think I had any sober friends. I thought all my friends drank (almost) as much as I did. I thought that me going sober would horrify them. That's why I hid for more than two years behind a pseudonym.

But, within hours of posting, several of my friends - from university, from advertising and from the school gate had messaged me privately saying I've given up too. Years ago. Best thing I ever did. Can we get together?

Why, why, why don't we shout about going sober? So we can find each other and support each other. Why do we all struggle on feeling so alone, when we're not?

I think mothers are particularly wary of confessing to having a problem with alcohol. We worry about being seen as bad parents, as terrible examples for our children.

Even more so, mothers who are in the medical or teaching professions, and who counsel patients and students daily about the dangers of alcohol.

Well, if you are a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher then hear this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I get e-mails from doctors, nurses and teachers every single week.

We only feel alone because of the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction.

This makes me mad. And sad.

So, since I'm already out of that closet, and since I've never been one to do things by halves (not bottles of wine, not life), I decided to do a TED talk! On 'making sober less shameful.'

How, I asked myself, does one go about doing a TED talk? Who is TED and what's his e-mail address?

Then, I went to my postbox, and blow me down with a feather, I discovered, amongst the bills and flyers and catalogues, the most extraordinary piece of serendipity: a letter from my old Cambridge college saying We are hosting a TEDx event and are looking for alumnae who are interested in speaking.

So I applied. I wrote 300 words on how and why I want to change the world. Then I had to upload a one minute video of me talking to camera.

I roped in Mr SM.

We recorded many different versions. Some were too long. Some too short. The dog barked during one. This light was wrong in another. It was a nightmare.

Then we recorded one that was just perfect. 

Let me see! I said to Mr SM. He passed me the phone. It WAS perfect. Except for one thing: IT WAS UPSIDE DOWN!

Well, said Mr SM,  at least it'll stand out.

After some more trial and error we did one up the right way, and it's gone off, to TED (wherever he is).

Fingers crossed.

Love SM (Clare)


Saturday 16 September 2017

They're Bombing my 'Hood

That headline is not some kind of fancy metaphor. They are, literally, bombing my 'hood.

Yesterday a bomb went off at my local tube station: Parson's Green, five minutes walk from my house.

This makes me really mad.

Like the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert, this one was timed to explode when the train would be filled with children, on their way to school in the morning.

Luckily, the device, a home-made nail bomb, much like the Ariana one, failed to go off properly. Several people were burned, but no-one died or suffered critical injuries.

But, can you imagine how terrifying the whole event must have been - the screaming, the stampede, the crush - for many of the children's friends, who only just started navigating their own way to school at the start of this term?

Londoners, however, are wonderful people (apart from the terrorists, obvs, who Mr Trump so lyrically described in a tweet yesterday as losers).

Everyone rallied around to help the injured and to reassure unaccompanied children. Our favourite local restaurant opened its doors to all the emergency services as a base for first aid.

Friends of mine, who live on the roads that were closed off, kept the police topped up with coffee and Krispy Kremes, and they, in turn, let the children try on their riot gear, which made them seem much less scary.

In a literal display of adding insult to injury, it transpired that the terrorists hadn't meant to bomb Parson's Green at all.

The timer went off early. The bomb was intended for a higher profile target like Paddington Station or Notting Hill. The media reported that 'outside of London, no-one has heard of Parson's Green.'

So the terrorists dissed us, then they bombed us.

I'm angry about all of this, but it doesn't make me scared. (Despite the threat level being raised to 'critical' and the constant buzz of police helicopters overhead).

Quite the reverse, in fact. It makes me realise, yet again, that life is short and unpredictable. We have to be brave enough to make the most of every opportunity.

On a happier note, thank you, thank you to all of you who pre-ordered my book on Amazon! And for all your wonderful comments on my 'coming out' post. (You made me cry. In a good way).

For a brief moment on Thursday I was #1 on the Amazon chart of 'recovery books', knocking Russell Brand's new book into second place.

(I had great fun imagining him, all snake-hipped and leather-trousered, pacing up and down his kitchen, holding his cute new baby, shouting Who is this SoberMummy person?!? But I doubt he even noticed).

If you'd like to help me change the world (or just want to annoy Russell Brand) by ordering a copy, click here. If you're in the US, you can also find me on

Stay safe everyone, and love to you all,

Clare (SM)

Wednesday 13 September 2017

SoberMummy's Coming Out

When I first quit drinking, I was terrified. And a (tiny) bit excited. But, most of all, I was ashamed.

I was ashamed that I was unable to control my drinking when everyone else around me seemed to manage fine. I was scared of being labelled an 'alcoholic'.

I was worried that everyone would assume that I'd been pouring vodka on my cornflakes at breakfast time and would label me an unfit mother.

So I didn't tell anyone. I said I was 'on antibiotics,' or 'doing a detox.' I said I'd 'given up for Lent.' Anything, rather than admit the truth.

The only place I told the truth was here, on this blog. But not under my real name, obviously. I created a pseudonym - SoberMummy. I figured that every time I wrote those words it would help to reinforce the fact that Mummy was Sober.

And through this blog I found an incredible thing: I was not alone. Not alone in being unable to control the booze, and not alone in feeling ashamed.

Isn't it ridiculous that when we quit smoking we can tell everyone and they treat us like a hero, yet you stop drinking and get treated like a leper?

Giving up gluten is trendy, yet ditching a toxic, addictive drug is considered weird.

I started this blog to help myself - as a form of therapy, then I discovered that it was helping other people - all around the world. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, all of you helped me back. It was like a giant, interwebby karmic circle.

More and more of you started writing to me to suggest I turn my story into a book.

The idea terrified me, but I figured that if we don't face our shame and shout out loud and proud then nothing is going to change. 

So I did it. I found a fabulous agent - Annette Green, and she sent my proposal out to some publishers. Amazingly, not just one, but several of them were interested.

My favourite team were from Hodder and Stoughton. They understood me and what I wanted to do, that I wanted to tell one small story and to change the world.

I wanted to let other women know like me know that they are not alone and to banish the culture of shame that surrounds going sober. I want to make clean drinking as fashionable as clean eating.

And now, after months of writing and editing and proof reading and legal checking, it's all done. And today the press release is going out.

Those of you who've read this blog from beginning to end will know my story, but the book talks a lot more about the day to day trials and tribulations of trying to become a sober mum in a world where everyone drinks. There's also lots of help and advice woven into the story and, I hope, a few good laughs.

Having spent years hiding behind a made-up name, I'm coming out good and proper. With a bang.

My real name is CLARE POOLEY. That's me at the top of the page. And this is the cover of my book, which is coming out on January 11th.

You can pre-order a copy (please do!) by clicking here.

(Also available on for those of you in the USA).

Please help me to spread the word and change the world.

Love to you all. And thank you. For everything. Clare Pooley (SoberMummy)

Monday 11 September 2017

Some Great Listening

Folks, I feel terrible that I haven't posted for a while, nor have I replied to your fabulous comments on recent posts. I'm so sorry.

I have been horribly busy getting the children back to school (I managed to get them there on the right day this time - whoop whoop!) and with my Big Project - announcement to follow on Thursday...

By way of an apology, here are two great radio programmes for you:

The first is a Radio 4 play called The Red by the recovering alcoholic, Marcus Brigstocke.

The hero of the play, Benedict, is given a letter from his father on the day of his father's funeral. His father, a huge wine connoisseur, leaves his alcoholic son a very special bottle of red and asks him to drink it. Benedict has been sober for 25 years. Find out what he does.

Click here to listen.

Huge thanks to 'Just the Tonic' for the brilliant recommendation.

The second programme was also on Radio 4, and is called The Fix. Three teams of bright, creative young people are given the task of looking for ways to get the British population to drink less.

Great to see this topic being covered in mainstream media in such an interesting way.

Click here to listen.

Happy listening, and please drop by on Thursday for the Big News.

Love SM x

Friday 1 September 2017

5 Reasons Why September is a Great Month to Quit Drinking

There is never a perfect time to quit drinking.

I spent months, years even, telling myself that right now was not a good timing as I had a big party, a holiday or a stressful work commitment fast approaching.

Often I'd get to around Day 5 and then the wine witch would say It's x's birthday next week. This is SO not the right time to stop drinking. Why not start again (moderately, of course), then you can stop properly after the party?

But the truth is there's always a good excuse to hand, a reason to quit quitting.

We're so used to relying on booze to deal with every emotion - celebration, commiseration, anxiety, stress, relaxation, grief - that any week of the year is bound to contain a perfect occasion for a piss up. 

Before you know it, another year has gone by in a haze of hangovers and half remembered events.

But NO MORE, because if there ever was an ideal time to quit, it's September. Here's why:

1. It's a New School Year

Yes, I know we're not at school any longer (unless you're a teacher), but all those years of getting new school uniforms ready and pencils sharpened for September are buried deep in our psyches.

September, like January, is a time of fresh starts and clean sheets of paper, but without all the cold, darkness and post Christmas misery.

2. You've Spent the Summer Bingeing

Go on, confess. Summer holidays are the perfect excuse for drinking at lunch time, mainlining cocktails by the pool and staying up until sunrise drinking dodgy local spirits.

By September the world and his wife have a terrible hangover, puffy faces and muffin tops, and the idea of booze has, just slightly, lost its lustre.

3. You Have a Perfect Excuse

It's really hard telling people you've quit drinking. When I got breast cancer I told everyone. I told strangers in shops, my hairdresser, even a traffic warden (who let me off the ticket).

When I stopped drinking I told no-one the truth, I just made endless excuses (I'm driving, I'm on antibiotics, I'm raising money for charity).

And making excuses is okay. In fact, it's a good idea, because the last thing you want to do when you're already feeling wobbly is to fend off an inquisition.

And September is the perfect excuse because (see above) you just tell everyone that you overdid the booze on your summer holidays and are detoxing. Chances are, they'll be doing the same.

4. It's Over Three Months Until Christmas

The hardest part of quitting booze is the first hundred days. Once you're through those it gets much, much easier. That's when you start to see all the benefits and to realise that you never want to go back.

If you quit now, you'll have done those hundred days before the Christmas Party Season kicks off.

5. You Won't be Alone

Quitting in the summer can be very lonely. The sober blogging world goes quiet. It feels as if everyone is down the beach downing tequila.

But now there'll be lots of enthusiastic sober bunnies looking for friends. Several countries hold Sober September events, and here in the UK we're gearing up for Macmillan's Go Sober October.

It's a great time to find a tribe - online or in real life.

(If you want to encourage even more passengers to jump on the sober wagon then please share this post).


Presuming that you're now totally convinced, check out my page (click here) on Advice for Newbies, or to read my story from the beginning, click here.

If, however, you still need more persuasion, click here for Reasons to Quit Drinking.

Happy September to you all!

SM x