Tag: binge drinking

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Drink is evil. Again. Oh no it’s not. Again.

Been away researching what will hopefully be my next book – a non-beer book! And back in the hot seat to bullshit so familiar it’s almost reassuring.
I don’t want this to become an obsession, but maybe it already has. Our friends at the BBC are up to their usual tricks, using this familiar image today:
to illustrate “Courts get ‘booze ASBO’ powers” to cut down on the scourge of drunken behaviour.
So how did they illustrate the main drinks story this weekend – the new report from the BBPA which shows that alcohol consumption is down, and that Britons drink less alcohol per head than most other European countries. Um… they didn’t. They completely ignored it.
I not anticipating them being too interested either in this new study, which shows that moderate drinkers suffer less depression and anxiety and have better social skills than teetotallers.
If you see any mainstream media outlet covering either of these two positive stories about alcohol consumption, please let me know.

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Joseph Rowntree and the Pissed Women

News headlines today that women are drinking themselves to death – a new report from the Joseph Rowntree foundation looks at British drinking habits and draws some interesting conclusions.

Finding that made it into the press:
– the number of women drinking double the recommended daily units has grown massively in recent years
Finding that didn’t make it into the press:
– the number of men doing the same, and the number of young people of both sexes, has fallen over the same period
Finding that didn’t make it into the press because it didn’t even get into the JRT’s press release – in fact, it got buried on page 83 of the report:
– over the survey period, the way units of alcohol are measured changed, so that a glass of wine now counts as two units rather than one – meaning that someone who drinks wine (i.e. women) would see their measured unit ‘consumption’ double even if the amount they drink stays the same.
My favourite though is the bit in JRT’s press release where there is a subtitle that reads “An increase in alcohol consumption amongst children”, and the first line of the para that follows begins “Fewer children are drinking”.  (The point being, to be fair, that those kids who are drinking are drinking more.  But still.)
Ah, you’ve got to love ’em.

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A friend recently introduced me to The Daily Mash, a spoof newspaper that will feel familiar to fans of The Onion, but is written in the UK.  It’s razor-sharp topical, so much so that I often read the spoof stories on here before I’ve heard the real news headlines they’re taking the piss out of.  I thought the following, published today, would amuse readers of this blog.  Hopefully they won’t mind me reproducing it in its entirety:


‘Piss off!’

THESE recommended daily limits on alcohol the government has come up with are really not doing it for us, drinkers said last night.Beer and wine enthusiasts across the UK stressed that while three to four units may sound reasonable, it’s obviously not going to get you trousered, even if you’re a lady.They are now calling on the government to rethink its guidelines or better still just leave them alone and go and bother fat people instead.Tom Logan, a trainee solicitor from Northampton, said: “It seems to me that they may have confused a safe daily limit with what I like to call ‘lunch’.”He added: “Of an evening I like to smash through the limit with a convivial pint or two after work, before I then jump up and down on the limit and set fire to it with a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.”I manage to do all this without bothering anyone else. The worst that happens is an occasional tendency to fall asleep and urinate all over the sofa, but, and I’m sure we’re all agreed, that’s my problem.”Emma Bishop, a marketing executive from Twickenham, added: “How’s about this? As an adult, I think a reasonable daily limit is me drinking as much as I fucking want.”If it affects my work I’ll get sacked. If it affects my relationships I’ll be all lonely and sad.”And as for my health, following a quick glance at my tax bill I’ve decided that the NHS will treat me and the government can keep its fucking opinions to itself.”

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I promise this is the last post banging on about binge drinking hysteria for a while – but it’s a good one

A new pressure group has appeared which, finally, is seeking to establish an opposing voice in what has until now been a largely one-sided debate over the moral panic around binge drinking.

The Responsible Drinkers Alliance (RDA) – has been estabished to represent the ‘moderate drinker’ and combat the way in which ‘concern over the minority who misuse alcohol often results in limiting the freedoms of the majority.’ It aims to give ‘responsible consumers’ a say in tackling alcohol-related harm.

Fantastic news – one very tiny grumble.

The campaign’s main backer is the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). So where the hell is beer’s voice in this? Is the beer industry so punch-drunk it can simply no longer defend itself? We’ve got the BBPA, and they do issue moans of protest every time beer and pubs get kicked in the balls, but they seem to spend more time talking the industry into decline than doing something constructive like this.

We all need to get behind a scheme like this and make sure beer is there on the front line.

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24 hour drinking: the truth

Who’s calling me a twat?
To Camden last night, to see My Bloody Valentine.
“Hey Pete, was it a good gig?”


“I said was it a good gig?”


(If you’re feeling like you want to challenge your perceptions of reality, turn the sound on your computer up to FULL and imagine this lasting twenty minutes. This one is not as well shot, but gives a better sense of the PANIC and RAPTURE evoked by the full piece).

Anyway, with our ears ringing, Chris and I, via sign language, decided to go for a swift pint. It was 11.05pm in Camden, one of the most happening, cool parts of Swinging London – sorry, that should have read Swinging London – a city that prides itself on giving New York a run for its money as a fun-filled carnival that never sleeps.

The first six pubs we passed were closed.

Obviously, no restaurants were open. It was a Tuesday night for God’s sake! People have to WORK tomorrow! Were we MAD?

Eventually we came to Camden Lock, and The Ice Wharf, a Lloyd’s No.1 (Posh Wetherspoons) pub. Stencilled on every window (there are a lot of windows) were the words OPEN TILL MIDNIGHT. Hey, we thought, we’re in luck.

On the door of an almost empty pub on a Tuesday night were two black-clad bouncers. They stopped us as we tried to go in.

“Sorry, you’re too late,” I lipread one of them saying.

“You’re open till midnight,” I replied.

“No we’re not.”

“Yes, you are, it says on all the windows, very clearly, open till midnight.”

“Yes, but only for people who are already in here.”

“It doesn’t say that, it says open till midnight.”

“Well, it’s very late now.”

It was 11.18pm.

“I know what time it is. We want one pint and then we want to go home.”

“Well, you won’t have enough time to finish your drinks.”

“Yes we will! Forty minutes for one pint is plenty of time!”

We were sober and reasonable. he really didn;t want to let us in, but eventually he relented. If I wasn’t cool enough to get into a Wetherspoons pub then things were clearly looking grim. But I soon realised it was the bouncers, rather than us, who were the fucking twats of the piece.

We got our tasty pints of ale and sat down. At a table near us were four studenty looking lads. OK, they were sharing a big pitcher of WKD, but that’s a crime against taste, not a crime against humanity, and anyway, the pub had just served it to them. One lad went to the toilet, and while he was away his mate slid down along the banquette seat they were occupying, till he was half-sitting, half lying back. He wasn’t collapsed. His eyes were open. He was carrying on a quiet, lucid conversation with his friends. His feet were not on the seat.

When his friend came back, the recumbent lad sat upright again to allow him to sit down. But the bouncer wasn’t far behind. As Toilet Boy sat down, the bouncer told them both to leave. Toilet Boy had “spent too long” in the toilet, and his mate had “been lying down”. Against the fact that the lads were not slurring, swearing, or behaving anti-socially in any way whatsoever, these crimes apparently constituted behaviour not befitting a Wetherspoon’s pub. The boys were indignant, but not violent, threatening or abusive. They protested, and asked to see the manager. Eventually a boy of about fifteen appeared and claimed that he was the manager. When the lads put their case to him, he refused to listen. His words were “I’m in charge on that side of the bar, he [the bouncer] is on charge on this side. It’s nothing to do with me.”

Thinsg were clearly about to get nasty, and we moved to the other side of the large, empty, quiet pub, and took a seat next to a young couple. As soon as the bouncer and his mate had finished ejecting the four lads, he came over and threatened the man in the couple with eviction unless he removed his baseball cap. Maybe there’s a rule about headgear in Wetherspoons pubs – is it so we can all be surveilled properly as we drink? – but to anyone with even half a brain, this bloke sitting with his girlfriend was about as threatening as Kayo Odejayi in front of goal.

I posted on here recently about how you had to give JD Wetherspoon their due. For all their faults, they really do care about cask ale. But here were Wetherspoons bouncers going out of their way to create an atmosphere of tension and incipient violence, spoiling the night of every single person in the pub, not just those they roamed around picking on. And here was a bar manager in charge of a large Wetherspoons pub saying he had no responsibility whatsoever for the well-being or satisfaction of his customers, admitting that this bouncer, who was clearly out of control, was a law unto himself.

If anyone from Wetherspoons reads this blog – sort yourselves out. Get a sense of perspective. Employ people who are going to stop fights rather than start them, and bar managers with a sense of responsibility to their paying customers. Even better – in situations when bouncers are obviously not necessary, don’t have them at all. The boredom turn these small-minded, vicious pricks into the very aggressors they’re supposed to be keeping out.

If anyone else is near a Wetherspoons and fancies one quiet, late night drink – I urge you to find somewhere else instead.

We did eventually get another pint at a pub down the road. They allowed us in and served us without comment. They allowed us to drink in the beer garden till 12.30 . When the beer garden closed, they asked us politely to move inside, where we could carry on drinking if we wished. But like most people, we checked the time, and left quietly. There were no bouncers, and there was no anger, aggression, or trouble.

Go figure.

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The anti-drink consipracy, Part xxviii

An illuminating piece in the current edition of Private Eye regarding the binge drinking epidemic:

“A vow to curb teenage drinkers was esposed as a sham yesterday with figures showing kids go unpunished,” declared the Mirror last Saturday. “In the past three years, only 34 children have been prosecuted for buying booze. And just seven landlords got the top £1,000 fine for selling booze to underage drinkers”.

Curiously, the paper overlooked another glaring exanple of the law going easy on an adult who supplied booze to children. Just one day previously, a 29-year-old journalist from the South West News Service agency had accepted a caution from Avon and Somerset Police for giving cider and alcopops to a group of 16-year-olds in Bristol, so they could pose for a series of photographs intended to illustrate an article on under-age drinking for… The Mirror!

Tha hapless hack told the youngsters they were welcome to keep the booze when the shoot was finished – and several went on to be involved later that night in what police describe as “a serious disorder incident” which resulted in a teenager being left in a coma for several weeks.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched one of those ‘Binge Britain’ programmes, where the presence of the camera crew distorts usual behaviour. My favourite clip is the one with a bunch of girls walking down the street, chatting and laughing, until they see the camera and run towards it pulling up their tops to show their tits. This clip was used on all the trailers for the programme to show how bad things were. No-one seems to have watched the clip carefully enough to realise that if the camera hadn’t been there, they wouldn’t have done it…

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Looking forward to seeing extensive coverage of this story in the Daily Mail over the next few days

UK: Binge drinking on decline in UK – research

23 January 2008 Source: just-drinks.com editorial team

The number of people in the UK that are drinking alcohol irresponsibly has fallen, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The General Household survey said yesterday (22 January) that, between 2000 and 2006, the number of men that drank over 21 units a week has reduced by 6% and the number of women who consumed over 14 units per week has decreased by 5%.

Binge drinking among 16-24 year-old men has also continued to decline in the last year, with levels among young women in the UK stabilising, the statistics revealed.

The survey also demonstrated that awareness of alcohol units has risen from 79% of the population to 85% in the last ten years.

Commenting on the survey, the_Portman_Group‘s chief executive, David Poley, said: “It is pleasing that the long-term trends in the nation’s harmful drinking levels continue to improve. More people are now aware of the risks associated with harmful drinking and have changed their drinking accordingly. There is still a long way to go to eradicate the problems caused by alcohol misuse which remain deeply embedded in our culture. But the evidence suggests that the sensible drinking message is getting through to people.”

Hang on… I thought more liberal licensing laws were going to result in the end of civilisation, like theyhave in every other country around the world that has a relaxed attitude to drinking? I’m confused…