DRIBBLING in the gutter, half conscious, cold and alone in the dead of night with my clothes soaked with a mixture of rain and urine – at least that’s one thing I won’t be doing during my booze-free lent.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never actually found myself in that state – not soaked in urine at any rate – but nevertheless every couple of years, I put myself through the self-flagellation of alcohol abstinence.

As any drinker who has taken a break from the booze will tell you, it can a lifestyle headstand, with social habits, deeply engrained routines and weekly rituals turned all wonky.

Blissful tee-totallers won’t have a clue what I’m on about of course, but then very few people take any notice of those self-satisfied liver nurturers, usually found smugly trotting out of the gym and succeeding all over the place.

Disgusting habit.

But like it or not, many people can’t handle the wine-stained mirror held shakily up to their face when someone they know stops drinking.

After all, an abnormal level of drinking is only judged as that when taken in relation to what’s normal in your surroundings.

Where I grew up in the rural north, a couple of pints after work each day and a skinful on Fridays and Saturdays was seen as the norm. Try telling those guys I’m having a diet coke.

For those of us who do enjoy a drink or six, a night in the pub drinking fizzy water can be a sobering prospect. It really can.

But it’s possible. For God’s sake, I even danced sober at a wedding last week – that’s got to be a first.

I consider it an important period of perspective, especially having experienced the life-destroying effects of alcoholism first hand.

I stumbled across a group online called ‘Club Soda’ – a community of non-drinkers who socialise without having to listen to drunkards slur the same anecdote in your ear for the twelfth time.

Its founder ‘Laura’ said she found a wealth of support for those wanting to run a marathon, lose weight, quit smoking etc, but nothing for drinkers except AA.

Unlike cigarettes, which even most smokers agree is a pointless, there is something in the British social fabric that just won’t let go of the glass.

It’s part of who we are, most people say. And it is.

It’s also true that without booze, we would find some other way of avoiding the monotony of everyday life.

But a change is as good as a rest, they say, and so it’s a lime and soda for me, for now.

But whether it’s a cold, smooth craft beer, a fine single malt or a crisp, chilled glass of Prosecco with beaded bubbles winking at the brim, I’m sure I’ll be back at the bar come Easter.

After all, no-one likes a smug tee-totaller, do they?