Today is Ash Wednesday (if you didn't know it) - No Smoking Day if you're in Ireland! (Don't you just love their sense of humour?)
Anyway, having wrestled with suggestions and ideas ranging from cigarettes, ironing (I don't smoke and hardly iron) to swearing and cider, I've decided to give up the latter for the next forty days. And not just cider - all alcoholic beverages completely.
Those of you that know me well will appreciate how much of a sacrifice this is. It's not that I'm dependent or anything (would I admit it if I was?) but I find the question of what to drink instead so impossible to answer that I end up reaching for the corkscrew or bottle opener.
This is going to present me with a serious - if not intractable - difficulty for the next forty days. I mean, what is there of any interest, flavour, thirst-quenching zip and stomach-warming zap in the soft-drink market? I know there's nothing - nothing - like a glass of cold water on a hot day when you're really thirsty. But what do I drink until the weather turns warmer? Yes, there's tea (in ever-increasingly flavours) and hot milk, cocoa, coffee (in an ever-increasing list of silly names) but what else is there at wine o'clock apart from, well, wine?
I need your help. I've tried coke (the carbonated beverage...!), juice, cloudy (and clear) lemonade, ginger beer, cream soda, dandelion and burdock and all manner of other things and nothing quite hits the spot. Maybe nothing will? But if you've any suggestions I'd be very grateful for them.
Meanwhile, I'll have to live off the fat of my own 'shrove' Friday which was last week at the Luton Beer Festival. There - in addition to filling up pancake-fashion on all manner of soon-to-be-banished beverages - I saw this sign, and liked it.
And if things get really bad there's always Sunday. Did you know Sunday isn't technically part of Lent? Count the days between now and Easter and you get a few more than forty. It seems that Sunday is a rest day in more ways than one, and this particular one might just see me through the season.