Sober and Sexy Calendar 2017 – looking for sponsors!

Fiona McCosh is busy putting together her calendar for 2017 – and looking for sponsors!

Her 2016 calendar was awesome and raised money for CTDCC (Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre)

Time to repost the interview I did with her last September:-


15 September 2015

Interview with Fiona McCosh, Irish-born Photographer
Irish-born photographer, Fiona McCosh, will be launching her Sober & Sexy exhibition on 29 September in Cape Town. The models in the Sober & Sexy calendar are all in long term recovery and Fiona, who celebrates her 4th year of sobriety on 19 September 2015 – a photo of herself illustrates September month.

Fiona sat down with Janet Gourand, Founder of World Without Wine (, to tell her story.

I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and depression. I always felt different and when I got drunk for the first time I took to it with such enthusiasm that I got alcohol poisoning! Later, I went to Art School and worked in a pub in the evenings. Speed, ecstacy and cocaine all featured in my life and boyfriends tended to share my enthusiasm for drugs and alcohol.

At the age of 36, someone introduced me to GHB. I used this drug to try to moderate my alcohol intake. For four years I was using alcohol and GHB (which is also called the ‘date rape’ drug as it causes users to pass out). One day, I dropped some GHB on my laptop and it melted the keyboard!

My ‘rock bottom’ lasted for about a year. I was living with a boyfriend and we would be awake for about two hours at a time – get high – then pass out again. We didn’t wash or clean our teeth or go out.

One day, I rang my mother who was so shocked by my appearance that she took me straight to the Priory – a rehab centre in the UK.

The Priory didn’t work for me but they suggested a rehab in South Africa. After 28 days in the South African rehab I was still a mess so I extended my stay for three months. After another two months in a sober house, I relapsed and managed to nip down the road and drink a bottle of vodka. There then followed a further four months of ‘research’ into why I needed to put down the red wine.

It took yet another stay in one more rehab centre in SA for me to finally get clean. The relapse had given me the necessary rude awakening I needed and I was able to work the “12 steps”. I still go to about four meetings a week and have an addiction counsellor but I have absolutely no cravings now and feel totally secure in my sobriety. I can socialise with people who drink although most of my friends are in recovery. I appreciate the laughter of people who have ‘suffered’ – somehow it’s more authentic. Cape Town has a vibrant recovery community and I now live here permanently. I feel like I have been given a new lease of life – a second chance.

Last year, I had the idea for the calendar. My passion for photography has been re-ignited and I was inspired by the Calendar Girls story based on women posing nude for a calendar in order to raise funds for a cancer charity. I actually had no trouble finding people to pose for me, so will probably publish a calendar every year!

My passion with the calendar is to spread a message of hope. If I can get clean, then anybody can! I want to raise awareness as well as money for a good cause. I am grateful for the gift of recovery and want to start a dialogue and encourage people to seek help. I am hoping that the Sober is Sexy show and calendar will help make it clear that there is a solution, that recovery is not only possible, but pleasurable – and even sexy sometimes!

Proceeds will be donated to the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Fiona’s calendar for 2017 please make contact with Fiona or myself.

World Without Wine is a social network
that enables men and women to successfully moderate their drinking and become sober by developing tools to support their journey to sobriety. Workshops, sobriety coaching and support groups all work together to provide the encouragement needed.


For more information:
Twitter: @WorldWoutWine


For more information contact:-

Fiona McCosh at Sober & Sexy on / 079 127 5357
or Dougie Dudgeon at Cape Town Recovery on / 082 560 2296
or Janet Gourand at World Without Wine on / 072 213 6064



Alcohol and Breast Cancer – Janet Gourand interviews Dr Jenny Edge


Back in 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer – although almost 10 years ago I can remember that day as if it was yesterday.

I was sent to top breast cancer surgeon Dr Jenny Edge in Cape Town. She took one look at my breasts and announced that I had a malignant tumour in my left breast. She was very kind and told me gently that I was going to have a very busy day as she sent me round the hospital to have various tests to ascertain if the cancer had spread – fortunately it hadn’t although it was in my lymph nodes, many of which had to be removed along with my breast.

One of the ways I coped with my year of treatment was by blogging – my blog is still up there in cyberspace under

I was vaguely aware of the fact that there was a link between alcohol and breast cancer but that was not something I wanted to dwell on when coping with my diagnosis and the tough treatment regime that followed.

According to website :-

“Research consistently shows that drinking alcohol does increase a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer and may also damage the DNA in cells.

Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer”

Now that almost a decade has passed I felt brave enough to talk to Dr Jenny Edge about the possible link between alcohol and breast cancer.

Her first words were that “its complicated” and she reminded me that the biggest risk factors are being female and getting older!

Having said that Dr Edge was kind enough to share with me some key points from a recent presentation she had made at the University of Cape Town:-

  • The World Health Organisation has classified alcohol as being
    “carcinogenic to humans”
  •   Alcohol metabolises into acetaldehyde which can damage
    healthy cells
  • Alcohol could affect the response of the breast to circulating estrogen

Dr Edge also mentioned the “Nurses Health Study (2011: JAMA) which looked at alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk.

Conclusions of this significant study were that “low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk, with the most consistent measure being cumulative alcohol intake throughout adult life.”

There was no statistical difference found between:-

  • types of alcohol consumed
  • age of drinking
  • regular vs binge drinking

So I can see why Dr Edge says “it’s complicated” but if I could give some advice to my younger self I think it would include some tips about drinking moderately. As a result of recent research the “safe” levels for alcohol consumption are likely to be reduced in the UK. Currently 14 units a week – that’s just one and a half bottles of wine! Let’s hope that SA will follow the UK example – and lets hope that people will actually follow that advice!

A Royal Hangover – an interview with Director Arthur Cauty

The British film, A Royal Hangover, opened the Cape Town Recovery Film Festival on 24 September. Described as ‘Think Bowling for Columbine, only with alcohol instead of guns. Drinking for Britain: We don’t shoot ourselves to death here, we kill ourselves with drink – much more dignified!’ and ‘A powerful film which could save lives if we can only get it in front of the right audience’.

Janet Gourand, Founder of World Without Wine ( interviews talented young British Director Arthur Cauty – seen below with one of the film’s stars, Russell Brand.

Why did you make ‘A Royal Hangover’?

British drinking culture is something I’ve always found fascinating and slightly bizarre. It’s all around you, wherever you look. It’s completely embedded in our culture, in our history, our politics. Some of our most popular TV shows are based around pubs, and then there’s religious ceremonies, the 18th birthday, weddings, all these key life events, marked with alcohol. It’s like the blood in our veins; it oils society and lubricates us socially.

That idea was always floating around, somewhere, in the back of my head, but it wasn’t until I started travelling around Europe, the USA, and Asia that I realised how strikingly different our drinking culture is in Britain. I started looking into it further and it became immediately apparent that we have a serious problem with alcohol in the UK – a problem that nobody seems to want to acknowledge or do anything about

What were the biggest challenges to making this film?

There was the obvious threat of violence while filming on the streets at night. There was one night in particular where different people attacked me on about five separate occasions. I did nothing to provoke any of these people, they just for some reason took offense to what I was doing, and being tanked up on alcohol, thought the best way to deal with the situation would be to “smash my fucking head in”.

I quickly learned that there is no reasoning with people when they are in such a state, so my response was generally just to keep filming. That way, if they do attempt any “head smashing”, I should at least get some footage gold. Fortunately for my facial features, when people are this intoxicated, it isn’t too difficult to avoid their wildly swinging right hooks.

So far, the film has been available on iTunes and is doing the international Film Festival circuit. What kind of feedback are your getting?

The film has been received very well by those who have seen it. The problem for us has been getting the film seen. For example, we’ve had cinemas refuse to show it due to the fact that they sell alcohol and obviously A Royal Hangover is not exactly an advert for alcohol consumption.

Aside from the political difficulties, we’ve been fortunate enough to be selected for some very respected film festivals, such as the Cleveland International Film Festival, which was actually voted the USA’s 2nd best film festival by USA Today. We’ve had brilliant reviews from the likes of the Huffington Post and tons of support from recovery communities, councils, charities and authorities.

Interestingly, countries like America and Australia have been far more receptive to the film than the UK. Perhaps it hits a little too close to home for us Brits.

Did you envisage getting a lot of interest from the “recovery” communities when you decided to make the film?

I did, to a degree, but we’ve had an overwhelming level of support from recovery communities, which I really wasn’t expecting. When I started production I was completely unaware of the sheer number of people either suffering from addiction, or recovering from addiction. It just makes it all the more strange that A Royal Hangover is the first film to properly address these issues.

Why Cape Town? Were you approached by film festival organisers?

Yes, we were approached by Dougie Dudgeon, the Festival Director, who was really keen to show the film. In fact, he wanted to show it at last year’s festival, but we had to wait until after our Los Angeles premiere to be able to do that. So, here we are, one year later

Is the film going on general release in the UK?

Well, as you mentioned, A Royal Hangover is currently available to both rent and buy from platforms such as iTunes and Vimeo on Demand, as well as through our distributor Journeyman Pictures, who are approaching broadcasters like Netflix and other buyers. We’ve signed a number of deals already. The best way to keep up-to-date with these things is to like the Facebook page or follow us on Twitter!

I felt your presence in the film was one of a ‘bemused anthropologist’. Do you feel you have a role to play in using your film for social change or are you already working on your next project?

That’s exactly how I felt!  I’ve alwats consciously refrained from narrating my films in the past; instead, carving a narrative through interviews and archive etc, but with A Royal Hangover, I knew my presence was absolutely paramount to the premise of the film.

I’ve had people reach out to me after watching the film, telling me it’s changed how they see alcohol.  It’s made them question their own drinking habits or even stop drinking altogether in some cases.  It’s an extremely confronting film and I’d like to think that if we can get the film in front of the right people, we’ll be one step closer to seeing some changed implemented in our drug and alcohol policies, as well as the way we as a society regard addicts.

I am indeed hard at work on my next projects now, most of which are still very hush hush at this stage, but I’m still pushing A Royal Hangover out there in any way I can.

At the end of the film you say, “What is it going to take for Britain to admit it has an alcohol problem?” What is your answer to that question?

I wish I knew. I have absolutely no idea what it’s going to take. To me, the problem has always been obvious, but of course I’ve always been on the outside, looking in. My goal was to open people’s eyes to this problem and pose some crucial questions about our culture. The questioning was the easy part. Answering those questions is where the difficulty lies.


World Without Wine is a social network that enables men and women to successfully moderate their drinking and become sober by developing tools to support their journey to sobriety. Workshops, sobriety coaching and support groups all work together to provide the encouragement needed.


For more information:
Twitter: @WorldWoutWine