Talking with Cate Kell-Clarke ~ Co-Author of Alcohol Reconsidered

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

As we make the final changes to our book before publication, I thought you might like to find out a bit more about my business partner and co-author of Alcohol Reconsidered, Cate Kell-Clarke.

For me, writing this book has been everything that I had hoped it would be. It’s been exciting, challenging and a very unexpected opportunity to try something completely different from teaching. Not only has it given me a chance to continue to reflect on how alcohol affects us all, but having that focus on such a project has been such a welcome distraction throughout this very strange and difficult year. Working with Cate has been a complete joy, but what has she got to say about it?

I talked with Cate earlier this week to find out more.

Cate, can you explain to our readers about how we know each other?

Of course. We first met when I became your next-door neighbour!!! Or classroom neighbour to be exact. We met at a school in West London, around April 2018 from memory. I was the supply teacher who was offered a more permanent Year 5 class. You were on Year 6 and a life-saver!! Taking on the role of a classroom teacher is always a bit daunting, and stepping into the shoes of the previous teacher. You helped me out with tips on about the way the school ran, tips on the children and their parents, and most importantly, where to find the coffee.

Ah yes. I’d quite forgotten about you being in the opposite classroom. It seems like such a long time ago. You had some interesting characters in that class if I remember correctly. I think our readers would be interested in knowing a bit about you and how you spend your time when you’re not writing.

Since Covid and my leaving the classroom, I’ve been doing a great deal of walking around the beautiful, local countryside, cooking, and even using a recipe! and finally reading the pile of books beside my bed. A great love of mine is the theatre but obviously, I haven’t been to any live theatre for over a year now. I have relished watching Andrew Lloyd Webbers; The Show Must Go On - YouTube. Late last year we were lucky enough to be offered an allotment in our village. We jumped at the chance, even though we wouldn’t really class ourselves as gardeners, we’ve dug and fertilized and dug a bit more. We’ve put in borders and planted a few herbs and fruit bushes. Time will tell what we actually end up harvesting later in the year but we’re having fun, it gets us outside and we’re meeting new people in our area, people who really are gardeners and who know their broccoli from their Brussels.

What we do now is a lot different from what we were doing. Can you explain a bit about why co-writing this book appealed to you?

As a teacher with years of experience, I’ve found collaboration is always the way to go. Whatever the job entails, working as a team I believe is always easier. Whether it’s planning lessons, directing the Christmas nativity show or writing a book, working with a team, albeit a small one in Alcohol Reconsidered’s case, is just perfect. I don’t enjoy flying solo for anything and I am always keen to bounce my ideas of anyone who will listen. As well being introduced to others thoughts is always fascinating. A lot of people are struggling with their alcohol intake, even before the pandemic arrived, just as I was and so the opportunity to help others to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol is very exciting. Writing has also given me a chance to exercise my old grey matter and to be engaged with something academically challenging, whilst further developing my own knowledge and understandings about the subject, alcohol.

Can you tell us a bit about your own relationship with alcohol over the years?

It’s complicated. Like all relationships really. It has been a love/hate affair my entire drinking life. Alcohol has always been around in some form or other, from the time when I was small in New Zealand up until now as I co-write our book ‘Alcohol Reconsidered’. I’ve also worked in a number of roles where alcohol has been centre stage, most recently as the landlady in a pub up in the Cotswolds. In our book we look carefully at how for us alcohol went from being social and fun to something that was used to deal with more negative emotions such as stress and boredom. I think it’s an important difference in our book when we explain why you don’t have to be ‘an alcoholic’ to have a difficult relationship with alcohol?

What would you say are the key messages in the book? Who will it appeal to?

One of the key messages I think we’ve tried to get across in the book is that you don’t have to stop drinking completely to change your relationship with it. We’re not ‘anti-alcohol’ and recognise the benefits we get from social drinking. Rather our book is based on a belief that any safe reduction will likely lead to better metal and physical health. You’ll agree we all need to know more about the world’s favourite drug, so our book discusses our personal relationships with alcohol over our many years, decades even, of drinking. I loved how we got to explore the history and science behind it and how you can change your drinking. It was brilliant to be able to share our practical tips that worked for us. I guess the key message we are trying to get across would be that it’s not all about stopping completely if you don’t want to and that any decrease in the amount you are drinking is a good change. Educating yourself is really important. Don't you agree Lesley?

Completely. I was amazed how much I didn’t know about alcohol. Writing a book is such a ‘bucket list’ activity and we learned a lot. What advice would you give to anybody thinking about writing their own book?

Just do it! We’ve all got a story inside to tell. Never in a million years did I think I would be writing a book, let alone one about cutting back on alcohol, that’s for sure. Plan before you start writing, and know who your readers are going to be and how your book can help them. Have the plan written down somewhere.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about changing their relationship with alcohol?

Firstly, of course I’m going to say buy our book and follow this blog. But seriously, the reasons why we drink are individual to us and as such, the support people need is likely to be individual to them. Get some support, or help and we want to help people find the relevant support. Do some research. Beginning to educate yourself and asking questions is a very good place to start.

It can be a lonely place if you are drinking too much and feel you can’t stop. Our blog/book will hopefully help readers to realise that this problem is far more common than we all realise and that there is something that can be done to change it that doesn’t necessarily involve giving up completely. It’s all about setting realistic targets and being realistic. Changing your drinking habits might not happen overnight, but is completely achievable.

Cate, working with you again has been a real joy. This book wouldn’t have happened without your belief that it could and your commitment and efficiency are second to none. I’m looking forward to our future ventures. When will readers be able to buy the book?

Our book, ‘Alcohol Reconsidered’ will be available on Amazon from early May. Readers can follow us on FaceBook and Linkedin or this Website to keep up to date with its release.


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