What did I gain when I gave up alcohol? A love of trainers, mostly

Three years ago, I became sober for a year – despite the best efforts and influence of a good friend and esteemed colleague who shall remain nameless (Zoe Williams). There were a lot of things I noticed about going from someone who rocked into the office, mossy-tongued and permanently hungover, to booze-free. The most obvious three were: time; money; energy. All of these beneficial changes – I had more of all of them – contributed to two things I suddenly became enamoured with, having shown little interest in them before. Those things are hard house and trance music (previously my idea of please God, no) and trainers.

While friends spent their mornings under duvets in the foetal position, I was up if not quite with the larks, then early enough to plan my day, stretched out ahead of me like a map. I started to walk around the city, discovering tiny side streets the width of a horse-drawn carriage. This satisfied my increased time and energy (as did the new love of house music), and the money I previously directed to my liver found a new home on the soles of my feet.

I’m not quite into the territory of calling trainers “sneakers” in the manner of a US pretender, but since my enlightenment I have been known to call them kicks. In the north and in Scotland, we call them trabs. Suddenly, I found myself filing copy about New Balance’s position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. New Balance is now one of my favourite brands, the more garish, I’m afraid, the better. I have a luminous turquoise-and-orange pair. Bright purple. Shocking pink. Neon green and grey. I see a lush pair of Nikes in a shop, consider buying them, then just do it. I now pronounce Nike with the ee sound at the end, and Adidas with the stress on the first syllable. One learns the language.

People walk on air if they are in love, but also if they are wearing Nike Airs. Red Bull gives you wings; so do Jeremy Scott’s limited editions. Fresh white Converse hi-tops are as much a wardrobe staple as a crisp, white shirt. I pick up bargains in charity shops, discount outlets, online and in the stores that spend 52 weeks of the year apparently closing down, but never do. I smile at kids in flashing pumps and respect the office-allowable, semi-professionalism of the Dunlop tennis shoe.

It might seem silly – frivolous, even – to have taken up trainers as a hobby. But as I would say to my mother when she chastises me for anything: at least it’s not drugs. I am yet to reach the dizzy heights of an MTV Cribs walk-in-wardrobe. There’s also this key advantage: now that I am drinking again (in moderation, guys!), trainer-shod, I am much less likely to fall over after one too many. The walk home is a doddle.

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