Thursday, July 22, 2004

There's a funny/sad article in the current NY Times about the increasing drunkenness of my pale British forbears. Apparently binge drinking in Britain has gotten so out of hand that the government is considering the unprecedented and possibly deranged idea to EXTEND pubs' hours past the current 11 pm cutoff. The thinking is that people go crazy before last call and pour as many pints as possible down their pale British gullets before 11, leading to hooliganism and random stupidity in the mean streets of places like Heyward's Heath (where my wee brother did us right proud by defiling a hedgerow as a young lad visiting relatives.) I humbly ask: Won't the pale Brits still do that if they extend the hours, but with the addition of more quality drinkin' time under their belts? It only seems logical. If they extended our local drinking cutoff time to 4am, I'm sure I would drink as usual until 3:30 and then slam down as many Dewar's-n-sodas as I could get my mitts on before 4, as is my wont.

Here's the best quote, from a doctor who has to treat a lot of pale British drunks:

" 'There's no social group that's immune to binge drinking, except the elderly,' Dr. Atkinson said, 'although we recently had a 90-year-old who drank five pints and fell down as he tried to leave his local pub. It's very common to have head injuries - dental injuries, facial injuries. I've had people who've inhaled their teeth into their lungs.' "

Whew! And I thought throwing up in the Players' drive-through line was bad!

The other startling bit of info is a graph showing the percentage of men and women who binge drink at least once a week in various European countries. Not surprisingly, the other half of my pale family tree tops the list: 48% of Irish men, 16% of Irish women. Britain is second: 34% of the men, 12% of the ladies. The next highest country is Finland, way down at 16% of men, and a measly 3% of women. When a people trounce the FINNS in the drinking department, I do believe you have a national crisis on your hands. Not that I've ever been to Finland, mind you, but I have heard many a tale from people in the know--mainly in the Austin rockabilly scene (which is HUGE in Finland, maybe huger than in Austin)--that indicate the Finns like their booze. A LOT. It's freezing cold up there, what else do they have to do, besides listen to rockabilly? I wonder if I have a little Finnish in me, as well? Hard to say. I do like to jitterbug on festive occasions.

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