his was meant to be an exciting year for Paul. At the start of 2020, when coronavirus was just another news headline, he bought a new car, moved into a bigger house and started a new job. He was looking forward to holidays and gigs with friends to celebrate his 40th birthday later in the year, and his drinking habits were similar to many other people that work 9-5. “I’d get to Friday and relax with a few beers and cocktails, have a few more on Saturday, then hair of the dog on Sunday,” the 40-year-old from Doncaster tells The Independent.
But, when lockdown started, Paul – who was still in his probationary period – lost his new job as a mortgage broker with just a week’s notice. His income immediately wiped out, he took a job as a packer at an Amazon warehouse. A week later, his old employer offered to rehire him on furlough, as long as he didn’t work elsewhere. “I sort of sat on my arse for a few days after that and drank – the weather was beautiful,” he recalls. “I bought a 40-pack of Stella and thought ‘this’ll last me for the three months I’m furloughed’... within two days, it’d gone.”
Paul compares the drinking he did over the next three weeks to an all-inclusive holiday that quickly lost its fun. “It’s a bit depressing really, drinking on your own,” he says. “It’s just me and the dog, so it was just us two, getting pissed on a daily basis.” Like people across the country, his birthday plans were cancelled, and he soon had little to look forward to.