Audio: BBC Interview “Is Drinking Required?”

On May 4th, i was interviewed by BBC Three Counties Radio, on the JVS Show (with Jonathan Vernon-Smith).

I had no idea who the presenter was, had no time to do research, and was pretty surprised at how this went.

when i listen back to this now, i feel tense! like i can’t tell how ‘she’ is going to respond. there is a lot of good-natured laughing (thank god) but it was by far, this is the most stressful audio i’ve ever done.

your thoughts welcome 🙂


Dancing Rabbit: “This audio made me squirm. He was such a boozer and so sure of his rightness. You did great. Gracious and sane (is that the best compliment I can come up with?).”

Sober Sparkles: “Well, isn’t he just a shining example of exactly WHY we don’t bother getting into these types conversations with people. When I start getting push back from people like that, I tend to ignore them (but if they do decide to take me on they get shock, just like he did. You are much better versed on the subject and can counter all their objections and it makes them sound really dumb).  And I’m sure he is only joking about dinner, he knows you would be a fun dinner guest. He seemed to like you 🙂 I got what you mean about “tense”. I didn’t mind him so much, but it is that “attitude” that bothers me, they are so blind and I wish I could make them see.”

Case Study Michelle: “Wow, the end part where you explained what it’s like to be the sober person at a dinner party and how the drinkers repeat themselves and are annoying. His reaction sounded like you could have blown him over with a feather. His reaction could be the dictionary definition of a ‘light bulb moment’.”



Usually i only put up an extract of the podcast and then tell you to go buy the whole thing and/or to sign up for the monthly podcast subscription.

But today I’d like you to listen to this audio in its entirety.

i am posting the whole audio and I’ll leave it here for 48 hrs so that you can hear the entire thing even if you’re not a podcast subscriber. So please listen now. right now. My only request is that you leave a comment. Feedback is crucial 🙂


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I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I thought this was a great interview. He was able to stay “in character” and you easily hit all of your talking points with grace and humor. You’ve no reason to question whether or not this was a win – it was.

  • Oh my God. He was an arse. You were fantastic! I’m from Harpenden ( in the Three Counties Area) and I can only apologise for such a buffoon!! So rude about you re the dinner party comment! You were just brilliant. He was never going to take the interview seriously but I liked he was speechless when you suggested he was probably a loud bore when drunk! Hah! So deluded about alcohol.

  • Bravo! You were marvelous. He is a bit boozy. He did not understand what the heck you were talking about. Perhaps like many AA people say, these dam meetings have ruined the entire experience…ha ha ha…we have glorified alcohol to the point where people believe the things he is saying all the bluster to cover up the reality. We have created an entire “wine culture of mommy’s” so all the moms think it’s normal to be drinking every night because…well because they have children. It sounds crazy but that’s the justification. Kids=alcohol. Kind of sad for all involved.

  • I think you handled it brilliantly. I agree that his protestations were just like the ones in my own head for so long. It was like listening to myself arguing with myself for many years. I do think that you gave him reason for pause, and the next time he thinks he “needs to give his liver a rest”, he will think differently about why. You sounded sharp, empathetic, and educated, and he sounded like a boozy old man that won’t be invited back to my next dinner party. Nice job!

  • Typical and exactly why Paul is sitting on the side of the road at the moment. I should stop looking at it as if I am the one side-lined because I don’t want to deal with the hot, drunk French Quarter which is a land booze cruise. It is the boozers who are stuck. And they are always going to kick us off because our presence reveals the contrast and impact of what booze REALLY does to us. Great job Belle! Loves ❤️

  • WoW! 99 days ago I would have agreed with him. Tomorrow I celebrate day 100 and I can see clearly now! I stood up last weekend at a concert and danced with 1 elderly woman; just the two of us on the dance floor. She may have been drunk but I was sober and it was so freeing!! This challenge gives you the the courage and support to make better choices and the wisdom to know the difference! Thank you Belle!

  • My first thought is that he barely let you finish a thought. I think he’s an overdrinker and has a voice inside telling him he’s got a problem. Why else would he think to give his liver a rest? I don’t think that normal drinkers plan sabbaticals from alcohol. He’s trying to prove something to himself. He seemed defensive and as though he were trying to get the audience on his side, for his own reassurance. You sounded cool and calm and clearly shined above his whiny adolescent protests. If you go back suggest he go 100 days and try life from your perspective. ❤️

  • Nice work. The interaction in this radio clip is exactly what so many newly sober people are just terrified will happen to them if anyone finds out that they are sober. Of course, when someone defends themselves so adamantly (and makes fun of the sober person too), it says an awful lot about their own drinking and absolutely nothing about the sober person’s sobriety.

  • Wow! This guy was so obnoxious sober, I shutter to think of what he would be like after a few drinks! Good job Belle!

  • I would suggest he is just looking for a fight. His laughter doesn’t sound genuine, more ridiculing to me. Your response and reaction were excellent.

  • I didn’t read all the comments, but the one right above me says what i think too. You were so dignified and calm in the face of his complete rudeness. Way to maintain composure!!! and i think you gave him some thoughts that will linger.

  • You were great Belle – well informed and very articulate but there wasn’t enough of you and far too much of him. I don’t think this guy had a light-bulb moment to be honest though.He’s obviously very entrenched in his ‘boozy’ lifestyle and would probably put you in the same category he would put ‘new age’ thinkers or people who believe in Law of Attraction – slightly odd but they’re out there so we have to tolerate them. Not my opinion obviously! Lol.

  • I listen to this with a sigh frankly – the view that “the person not drinking is never having as good a time as the rest of us who are drinking” is so sad. As you say Belle, now being the sober one occasionally in a group drinking your description of the volume increasing and the repetition increasing and the belief it is vastly more funny ring so so true. Maybe younger people are turning away from alcohol more with the increased advent of social media. Now in seconds your friends see you all instantly being the drunken loud fool and very quickly – the next day – it’s no longer funny. I wish he could simply accept that those people are happy (happier) not having that experience.

    You’d never have convinced him – and I’ve no axe to grind if he is a responsible drinker who has a good time regularly. But like you that nirvana he suggests where you get “skiffy” (I’ll return to this) was frankly an illusive goal from the moment I started overdrinking.

    Skiffy – oh sweet memories of my Mum saying that. Or with my kids as they began to explore alcohol with my wife (a normal drinker) involved too. My utter dismay that this was the goal – you drink through that and the nausea to the utterly blasted stage as annihilation of my comprehension of the world about me was my goal!

  • I suspect that you actually struck a deep nerve with him. It’s scary to think of life without alcohol. Most of us were there once.

  • He irritated me with his saying how if you don’t drink you can’t have as much fun, or aren’t as much fun. You nailed it when you pointed out that those buzzed “fun” people are loud and annoying when they repeat themselves. Totally agree that he has a loud wolfie going on, and is rationalizing to himself that drinking is necessary to enjoy life. It’s not. You did an excellent job of handling it..I would’ve probably let my irritation show. Go Belle!

  • It sounded to me that he never intended to really get to know what your coaching is all about. You were calm under fire.

  • He made me a bit angry to be honest. A person of his age and in radio having no insight that some of us just CANT have one drink.. Do I wish I could just docial drink? Yes. Did I enjoy myself and feel a bit buzzed and more confident? Yep. Can I drink? Nope. He is just a bit insensitive to why some people choose not to drink.

  • Honestly I thought you both brought good points to the table. I do think that alcohol can a be fun! I’ve had some great times drinking without getting sick or hammered. BUT!!! My obsession and daily drinking are a different ballgame than what he was talking about. He’s talking about social drinking and we’re talking about problem daily drinking often when we are alone and with the following with daily regrets. Voices in or heads that tells us to stop and than we go at it again harder. Alcohol can be fun when you are a normie!!!

    • i’m not sure he’s talking about social drinking at all. anyone who takes ‘regular breaks from drinking to give his liver a break’ is an over-drinker. normal drinkers don’t take breaks. they don’t think about alcohol at all. they can take it or leave it. that’s not him and that’s not me.

  • He sounded just as I remember my own inner voice a few years ago. He’s definitely never going to give up drinking. As for talking about feeling squidgy…that feeling only lasts minutes and us then replaced by drunkenness and a hangover the next day. You were the winner on this audio x

  • I totally agree with all of “Sargent” comments. My first emotional response was, FOR GODSSAKE, STOP INTERRUPTING HER!! I thought you dealt with this guy with dignity and grace and I wish he had extended you the same courtesy. Your responses were very succinct and spot on.

  • His wolfie was screaming so loud and your responses were brilliant! My husband (totally supportive/no wolfie) loved it too!! It was like a before and after for me… thank you again and again!!