Billy: I fell off wagon with bubbly
BILLY Connolly has confessed that he almost hit the bottle again by celebrating an alcohol-free year with a bottle of champagne.
The comedian talked of his struggle with drink during a radio interview ahead of a series of shows due to open in New York tomorrow.
Connolly told how he nearly plunged back into the drunkenness that had plagued his early life by celebrating a year on the wagon with a gift from his wife Pamela Stevenson.
"I stopped for a year and she gave me a bottle of champagne and I was one glass into it and thought: this is a mistake, I was enjoying not drinking," he said.
"So I stopped again a month later and that was it, that was 21 years ago."
Speaking on the US National Public Radio (NPR) network, he also revealed it would take him days to recall the things that he did while he was drunk.
"I had two memories. I would get drunk and have blackouts, then I would remember the stuff from the blackout after a few days," he said.
"Then I reached the stage when I didn't remember, it didn't come back until I was drunk again. So I had this drunk memory and a sober memory.
"I was two people and that became very scary. I told my wife Pamela about it and she had a name for the drunk guy.
"When I came home as the drunk guy she could tell instantly. It would be one drink, two drinks and I would change completely."
Connolly, who is better known in the US for his performance in the sitcom Head Of The Class and for his big screen roles than his stand-up shows, said he was rarely sober before meeting his second wife, the psychologist and comedian, Ms Stevenson.
He said it was only at her urging that he decided to stop drinking.
Stevenson has since written two bestsellers about the former shipyard worker's complex mind and troubled upbringing.
In her 2001 book, Billy, she described how he would ask for alcohol at breakfast.
She also described how he once danced drunkenly with the chat show host Michael Parkinson in the middle of traffic in London's King's Cross.
But Connolly added that, despite his obvious drink problem, he never saw himself as an alcoholic.
"I'm a drunk but sometimes I feel strange because I didn't have all those hallmarks of the alcoholic. I didn't go to alcoholics anonymous and never had DTs, I never drank at home very much and didn't steal money to buy booze - I was just drunk all the time.
"I didn't need to steal, I had a lot of money and a lot of time, so I spent most of it drunk. I'm like the guy whose wife didn't know he drank until he came home sober one day.
"But I was such a fraud because I would say to myself that I had never been drunk on a stage in my life, which I thought was true but I must have been from the previous night.
"I've been to one therapy session when I went with a pal to some church hall. They were doing immense good but I would have felt a fraud if I had gone alone. I would have had to invent some stories to be as amazing as those guys and what they had come through."
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