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Tales from the Booze Bus
December 18, 2007 1:25 PM   Subscribe

"It is binge drinking. We don't see people who've had just two drinks. People have had 20 shots of vodka." In central London, "Alternative Response Vehicle - or Booze Bus, as it's more commonly known - draw on their reserves of composure, ingenuity and stoicism to treat more than 20 dazed drunks," over the course of a 12-hour shift.

Well, at least it is not as bad as it used to be: Gin Lane, 1751
posted by geoff. (48 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Fascinating" fact: Hogarth's "Gin Lane" is not meant to denigrate drinking, its target is gin. The lesser known "Beer Street" completes the pair - its beer-swilling denizens are contented and industrious. Sadly he never lived to complete Alcopop Avenue.

As for the main link, it makes me glad to be teetotal. The staff on the bus sound like saints.
posted by WPW at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2007


Beer Street, FWIW.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:33 PM on December 18, 2007


Damn, I had just scampered off to find a link. Well played, BOP. Beer Street!
posted by WPW at 1:35 PM on December 18, 2007


Here in the US, it is Waffle House waitresses who draw on their reserves of composure, ingenuity and stoicism to treat dazed drunks.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:36 PM on December 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: He is slumped, with a steady trickle of saliva dribbling down his chin. The man has soiled himself.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I worked at a Sambo's in the 1970's in a US college town. During the late night bar rush, we served many, many people twice as they'd forget they had already eaten.

Of course, running across a Booze Bus in Melbourne AU has a completely different connotation than in London.
posted by michswiss at 1:54 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


We don't see people who've had just two drinks. People have had 20 shots of vodka.

Or as I like to call it: Tuesday.
posted by quin at 2:01 PM on December 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I thought the 24-hour drinking was intended to cut down on binge drinking because it was thought that people wouldn't feel the need to squeeze in a lot of drinks before last call anymore. So it's having the opposite effect?
posted by Tehanu at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2007


Aw, they just need to do an exchange with some major university town EMT's, and I am sure they can make a suped up, 10 person detoxifier that could handle the rush of a homecoming weekend and still be easy to hose down in the morning. I am thinking staggered cots, where patients lay sideways, with vomit guards the funnel the stuff and keep it off the ones underneath them.

You could make a fortune.

I know I have had some nights where I wouldn't mind a saline drip for rehydration and a ride home. Make it a fancy drunk cab.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2007


i say they need a nacho bus for people who get too stoned
posted by pyramid termite at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


The lesser known "Beer Street" completes the pair - its beer-swilling denizens are contented and industrious. Sadly he never lived to complete Alcopop Avenue.

Yes, but more interesting to me at least, is the consumption habits. Gin didn't have the high tarriffs as other distilled liquors and was (if I am correct) one of the first liquors for the poor classes as a result. Imagine a group of people where 5-6 beers a night was not considered overdoing it, switching to a liquor with exponentially more alcohol content. People literally guzzled gin like beer. Eventually moderation was learned, but it is interesting that the introduction of an intoxicating substance leads to a period of "learning," after which the more moderate substance comes in at an equilibrium.

An example I have used here before, and whose profile generally mimics alcohol, is the use of opium in Persia. Even after the introduction of heroin, and even today, the far more benign opium tar is preferred to injecting heroin.

I think we would see similar rates of consumption for things like cocaine and amphetamines, where the less potent varieties would be used if they were available. But that is neither here, nor there.

Londoners, is drinking really that large of a problem? It sounds like everyone in central London really needs to "get there shit together." What's the impetus? I have noticed that in the US, drinking declines sharply when DUI enforcement goes up, but I have a feeling that such exogenous limit is different in places with mass transportation. Anecdotally I noticed office parties in New York City as much more care free than other parts of the country.
posted by geoff. at 2:50 PM on December 18, 2007


Hic! Pink elephants, wazzat? *burp* Giant rats!
posted by stinkycheese at 3:00 PM on December 18, 2007


Without going into huge detail, as a misplaced american living in the UK, they've got an absolutely insane binge drinking problem here.

It's socially acceptable but nobody will actually admit it is.

I'd argue that most of the towns, cities, villages, etcetera become virtual no-go zones after 11 or so due to the drunk as fuck hostiles. Just pick a town, wait until nightfall and wander around. See how many drunk fuckheads yell at you or try and pick a fight.


On the way home from the Cambridge train station late on halloween it was like a fucking drunk warzone. I saw shit I only thought happened in goddamned cartoons (People carrying one another, people passed out on the ground, some fucknog wearing a traffic cone on their head)

It's really ridiculous. i'm unsure if it's getting better or worse, but for fucks sake people. Because of alcohol, I'd say the english are some of the worst behaved people in europe. And that's just fucked up.
Go to belgium, finland, Italy, wherever. They might drink as much but they don't pee on things, vomit all over the place, pick fights, stab passersbye on bikes, shout at people going to work, etcetera.

Hell, the russians/fins/scandinavians probably drink more. They just get gloomy. And go home and kill family members. (Domestic violence is common but typically externalized violence is not).


So yeah.

I think they should let those fuckos die of exposure. Cull the goddmned herd until these shitheads learn some goddamned restraint.


This post does not obviate americans of inappropriate behavior.
As a people we don't drink as much or at least in the upper/middle class parts of american society, fight as much.
We do have a predilection towards absolute batshit insane religious fervor and ignorance, inconceivable refusal to live a more ecological sound lifestyle and a tendency to invade the everlasting fuck out of random countries for no particularly specific reason.
We are not perfect, but we do seem to handle alcohol better

posted by Lord_Pall at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2007 [12 favorites]


I think getting that wasted is the whole point though, Lord_Pall. As one of the people commenting below the posted article said, it's part of the culture & if you go against that, you're widely viewed as being boring or square.

Good times = traffic cone on head.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:08 PM on December 18, 2007


(reads Lord_Pall's post)

(checks emigration FAQ's)
posted by jtron at 3:15 PM on December 18, 2007


Lord_pall +1 for the use of the seasonally appropriate insult "fucknog". Will be taking that one to dinner with the fam.

Related, an area in Brisbane in AU (Fortitude Valley) has become notorious for binge drinkers doing such stupid things while running across a major city arterial road. I'd seen so many people casually step out and expect traffic to stop, abusing cabbies, near-misses, and heard of several non-misses (one of which I saw the aftermath). Cab drivers hate driving through there at night. They've reduced the speed limit through there at night, but it's not enough and now the city council is thinking about introducing barriers along the footpath to protect the drunk fuckheads from themselves. I may have also been a binge drinker in the Valley quite extensively, but at no point have I felt a compulsion to play wanker with traffic.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's a huge problem here, but actually much less so in London than in smaller British cities, where, as the cliche has it, the town centres as people leave the pubs turn into war zones.
In town like Colchester or Great Yarmouth that bus would end up overturned and on fire its first night out.
London's full of drunks but I believe we're more docile than the provincial drunk.
(Myself, I barely remember the bike ride home from my office party last Friday.)

(On preview, Lord_Pall explains the situation nicely - that's exactly how I feel...about a certain all too visible chunk of the population. I'm a displaced Canadian here)
posted by Flashman at 3:19 PM on December 18, 2007


It's not a traffic cone, damn it. I'm a raving wizard letting my hair down to party, and this is my reflective safety hat.
posted by quin at 3:20 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's a huge problem here, but actually much less so in London than in smaller British cities, where, as the cliche has it, the town centres as people leave the pubs turn into war zones.

Absolutely, and this isn't a new phenomenon at all. I'm from Coventry, and while I was still trapped there I'd regularly find myself in trouble simply for daring to be in the town centre after midnight. Several fights, assaults, and trips in the back of the police wagon when I got rounded up amongst the violent apes. Wrong place, wrong time.

In my ten years living in London I've never had any experiences that are even remotely comparable, be it in the West End, Shoreditch, Islington, wherever. I'm not really sure why this is; possibly down to the much wider variety and distribution of people, and more than likely because there are far fewer high street meathead shitholes doing 5 vodka shooters for 2 quid.
posted by influx at 3:33 PM on December 18, 2007


A related story, albeit a bit more depressing in it's own way.
posted by echolalia67 at 3:40 PM on December 18, 2007


Without going into huge detail, as a misplaced american living in the UK, they've got an absolutely insane binge drinking problem here.

As a misplaced Canadian I concur. I have never, even during my University days, seen so many completely smashed drunkards as I have in Birmingham at night. These aren't your hardcore alcoholics - this place has those as well but not in disproportionate numbers by my estimation - they are ordinary young folk out for a night of fun which apparently involves devastating their liver.

I thought the 24-hour drinking was intended to cut down on binge drinking because it was thought that people wouldn't feel the need to squeeze in a lot of drinks before last call anymore. So it's having the opposite effect?


Its not having the opposite effect. It is making things better. There are a few media outlets and one hospital that seem to be pushing back against 24 hour drinking for some reason. Every time stories are run about the chaos there are lots of rebuttals the next day. My own experience having lived on a High Street for six months was that pushing back kickout calmed things down a lot. Mostly because the drunkards staggering out was staggered in time so they were not all on the street at once fighting and yelling and being asses.

Even amongst friends, who are not generally in the binge drinking drunkard class, I find English people to be serious hard drinkers who spend at least one weekend morning hungover.
posted by srboisvert at 4:01 PM on December 18, 2007


My own experience having lived on a High Street for six months was that pushing back kickout calmed things down a lot. Mostly because the drunkards staggering out was staggered in time so they were not all on the street at once fighting and yelling and being asses.

My experience has been the same. I think late licensing (there are really very few places licensed 24 hours) has been a big help. Not only does it stagger the times when people end up on the street, but they're also much less likely to be out drunk on the street early, so one can walk home at 11:15 from some non-alcoholic pursuit without concern of being stabbed by a drunkard.

And it was really ridiculous not being able to get a drink most places after 11 before.
posted by grouse at 4:09 PM on December 18, 2007


Lord_Pall is spot on, binge drinking is absolutely ridiculous now. You get the odd outraged newspaper article or news item but it is being treated as a laugh in general. The call for 24-hour licenses was started way, way back before people started thinking a pint of vodka a night was perfectly ok. I remember watching a trashy programme on Sky3 (yes, I know) called Shameful Secrets of the 90s, and there was one twat who openly admitted the drinks industry lobbied for the Criminal Justice Act so that young people would stop going to raves and taking E, and instead go to the pub. He was the one who did the marketing for the first alcopops, and again admitted it was solely aimed at getting women to drink more. (As a side note you may be interested to know that drinking several units of alcohol spikes the testosterone levels in women, and some side effects of alcoholism are very similar to those of PCOS). We've got a whole generation of 20somethings who have been raised believing Happy Hour levels of boozing is perfectly ok. Oh, and if there's anything more boring than people talking about their dreams it's people talking about what they did when they were drunk.
posted by gatchaman at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2007


I remember watching a trashy programme...and there was one twat who openly admitted the drinks industry lobbied for the Criminal Justice Act so that young people would stop going to raves and taking E, and instead go to the pub.

Excellent point. I was thinking earlier about how things were different in the late 80s/early 90s and it was because everyone was 'getting sorted on Es' instead of boozing it up all the time. The way people lace their pot with tobacco there, I'm not surprised smoking up seems to be more of a side dish rather than the meal itself, as it were.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:40 PM on December 18, 2007


I remember watching a trashy programme on Sky3 (yes, I know) called Shameful Secrets of the 90s, and there was one twat who openly admitted the drinks industry lobbied for the Criminal Justice Act so that young people would stop going to raves and taking E, and instead go to the pub.

Also, if you were paying any attention to the marketing of alcohol during this period, you would have noticed that the commercials aimed at selling alcohol to young people did so by quite explicitly appropriating the language and imagery of the drug subculture. Alcohol was being pitched as just another hit in the smorgasbord of intoxicants. When the MDMA stops working, why not try a Mad Dog 20/20?

This passed as unremarked upon by the government, and yet despite the technical committee of the ACMD recommending the reclassification of cannabis twice now, the government have passed it back for re-examination a third time, despite the complete lack of any significant new evidence that might warrant this.

The alcohol industry's hand at work again? Fuck 'em where they breathe, I say. And the bought and paid for lackeys that shill on their behalf.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another voice to the chorus: yes, binge drinking is out of control. And it really does seem to have dramatically worsened over the past decade. The situation was declining long before the licensing laws changed, I really don't know if they've made any difference.

Still, I read in the paper a couple of days ago that pub takings are way, way down after the smoking ban combined with winter. So maybe one bit of legislation will cancel out the other and we'll become a nation of smoking, alcoholic shut-ins.
posted by WPW at 4:53 PM on December 18, 2007


Having worked and hung out with quite a few English folks, I was under the impression that drinking was their religion.
posted by clevershark at 5:17 PM on December 18, 2007


Hell, the russians/fins/scandinavians probably drink more. They just get gloomy. And go home and kill family members. (Domestic violence is common but typically externalized violence is not).

Northern tribes are protected from these extremes of binge drinking by inbuilt autopilots which activate and guide you home or to somewhere familiar warm place (drinking buddies gather to someone's place at small hours, somebody gets stabbed, the usual homicide) when drunk enough. Otherwise, passing out in the cold will eventually kill you. It goes against the nature to stay at the city centre picking fights, unless you can walk home and pick fights simultaneously. This is learned during winters, but the instinct stays on full year. Getting too drunk to walk is being a burden to your friends, as then they have to figure out how to get you safe from cold. Being wasted = walking from point huh? to point somewhere.
posted by Free word order! at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


It goes against the nature to stay at the city centre picking fights, unless you can walk home and pick fights simultaneously. This is learned during winters, but the instinct stays on full year

Clearly you've never been to Newcastle.
posted by influx at 5:37 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Random Acts of Reality", the blog by a London Ambulance Service EMT, contains numerous posts that would never have existed without the peculiar phenomenon of severe public intoxication.

Some of those stories are just sloshing over with violence, vomit and pee, but a lot of them merely involve someone who's consumed a bathful of cheap cider and fallen asleep on the road. Then, Good Samaritans call the ambulance service over and over and over again until someone goes there - as they should - to scrape the drunkard up and see if they're all right.

Then the drunkard usually gets taken to hospital by the Big White Taxi/Nee Naw service (if the ambulance doesn't do that, it'll only get called to go back there again), where they annoy everyone there for a while before being pushed back out the door to wander half a mile, fall down again, and restart the process.

Some of these people are homeless and hopeless. If I were they, I can't swear that I wouldn't be committing slow alcoholic suicide in public too.

Others, however, could elect to get plastered at home and not crank up the response times of the ambulance service. It's not as if it matters much where you are if you intend to get blind drunk, after all; I'd think the presence of a sofa and a TV would be big selling points for the at-home alcohol poisoning experience.

But apparently, for a lot of people, not.
posted by dansdata at 6:12 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, never been in Newcastle, with northern tribes I meant russians/finns/scandinavians. Hanging around at city centres after bars close is kept minimum, because climate makes it no fun.
posted by Free word order! at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2007


about 18 years ago i worked at an all night convenience store and we always got a big bar rush after 2, when they closed - at 2.45 am, every friday night, there would be a fight by the gas pumps

every damned friday night - you could set a clock by it, that's how predictable it was

sometime around 1994, it calmed down - a few shootings elsewhere (or across the street), a few serious fight injuries and people started staying home more - or something

i can tell you that there's nothing more terrible, more awful to deal with than a mean drunkard - some people get drunk and they just fucking want to let it out on someone

(this was in the american midwest - michigan)

When the MDMA stops working, why not try a Mad Dog 20/20?

people drink that shit in the u k? my god, with all the decent beer you've got, why? we've got an excuse in this country being colonial barbarians, but - my god - mad dog?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:59 PM on December 18, 2007


Society has become a lot more decadent in recent days. It's like society as a whole has become an alcoholic.

It makes me so depressed to see so many people just drinking until they're close to clinical death and thinking they're having a good time.

I think they should let those fuckos die of exposure. Cull the goddmned herd until these shitheads learn some goddamned restraint.

That won't work. Some bogan fucknog will die of exposure and his gorgeous, blonde and blue-eyed sweetheart will be on the Today show saying "THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO SOMETHING!" and inciting public outrage instead of getting people to show a bit of personal responsibility.
posted by Talez at 7:50 PM on December 18, 2007


people drink that shit in the u k? my god, with all the decent beer you've got, why? we've got an excuse in this country being colonial barbarians, but - my god - mad dog?
Heheheheh, you think that's bad? Shit, try the ol' Blue AfterShock and Double Vodka triple-hit. Or the trifle: Red AfterShock, Blue AfterShock and Baileys. (this is a liquid rocket)

UK "binge" drinking (what we used to call just drinking) isn't going anywhere because it is so much damn FUN. Oh god it's fun. Unlike "drinking" without the binge: what, exactly, is the point of that? It's like a handful of chips instead of a whole bag. "Warm glow" from a pint? Bugger that.

Thing is, we know it's bad for us. We know eating lots and lots of lardy food is bad for us, and we do that too. We see what the town is like after 11. They make the drinks more expensive, but we're used to that with cigs and petrol, so we'll put up with it. What's the alternative? We live in Britain! The weather's shit, our teeth are shit, everybody's pale and fat, there's nowt to do, the shops all shut at 5pm, we've got no guns and we're too reserved to have fun sober. What would you do?

Bash on the gins.
posted by bonaldi at 8:35 PM on December 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


I apologise for all those scare quotes. I need a wee steadier.
posted by bonaldi at 8:36 PM on December 18, 2007


I usually don't start commenting here until I've had at least 20 shots of vodka.

*passes out on keyboard*

lkacgoz rhjjtzs9))+++.,,.lölö
posted by chillmost at 2:00 AM on December 19, 2007


On the Today show this morning (BBC radio) they were talking about how drunk people are ruining midnight mass at churches, and that people were becoming afraid to attend!
posted by Flashman at 2:05 AM on December 19, 2007


Flashman: Sounds like a scare story, midnight masses in towns in the UK have had bouncers since I was a kid, ie +25 years, there to make sure the noisier drunks move along and don't disturb the once-a-year visitors.
posted by biffa at 5:22 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Curse you, demon alcohol!
posted by h00py at 5:23 AM on December 19, 2007


The problem is that for better or worse (depending on your point of view) the role of alcohol in many peoples lives has changed. For me, my friends and for a significantly large (but quiet) minority of British people, drink (and drunkenness)is a social lubricator - it's job is to relax the body, loosen the tongue, provoke some imaginative (and almost certainly pointless) conversations and finally prepare the stomach for a dodgy kebab.

Drunkenness is not the goal, its part of the journey to it - the goal is to have a great time with your mates (and maybe make some new ones in the process). Getting so fecking hammered you can't remember your own name is thus counter-productive and ruins the night for everyone involved.

The fact that drinking of this variety often takes place in a "local" pub (which these days is really just a pub you regularly go to rather than a physically close place) where you know people and want to be able to go back to again at some point also helps deter the whole "dead drunk" thing. Not getting totally trolleyed is just as much about enlightened self interest as it is being socially responsible.

For many, unfortunately, the above isn't the purpose of their drinking - they drink to get drunk. It's the buzz before the very end that is the goal. In that situation its hardly surprising that the end result is people who can barely stand, because there's no reason to do otherwise. In fact, behaving any other way wouldn't achieve their goal.

Quite frankly if that's what floats their boat then fair fecking play to 'em. Why should I have the right to enjoy drinking my way and they not have the right to enjoy it theirs? As long as there is sufficient education from schools and especially from parents about the consequences that kind of drinking can have for their body then go for it.

Both types of drinker, however, have a responsibility to society to ensure that any associated downsides to the community as a whole are dealt with. Now luckily for me that generally means not being too fecking noisy when I leave the boozer, making sure that I remember to put the kebab wrapper in a bin, and not knocking every bloody saucepan off the wall in the kitchen when I get home thus waking the Missus up.

For your power drinker (and some of the more fightingly inclined slow boozing types), however, there has to be an acceptance that this kind of behaviour results in extra expense for local councils and more importantly the emergency services. If they want to indulge in that kind of behaviour then they have a duty to meet that cost.

Sadly this is not what is happening, and - in traditional style - government reactions to this are focussed far too much on quick, sweeping (and generally mis-targetted) action. Mainly this is done solely in a desperate attempt to placate the morally superiour "OMG TEH DRINKERS!" crap the scumbag press churn out whenever they haven't got a new picture of Maddie to run. Newspaper crap that, in itself, is so outrageously hypocritical (as anyone who's been out drinking in Fleet Street or Canary Wharf on a Friday night will atest) that it makes me want to go down to the Sun's head office and punch their entire newsdesk in the face.

If the heaviest drinkers are not taking financial and social responsibility for their actions voluntarily then they should be forced to do so. There are a number of ways this could be done. Pubs, clubs and bars in problem areas should be forced to take financial responsibility for the policing and cleanliness of those areas.

Technically its illegal to serve someone who is obviously so toasted they are a danger to themselves and others but its rarely actually enforced. Lets start enforcing that and penalising places that do otherwise. Just as tighter financial penalties and consequences for establishments caught serving underage drinkers resulted in a sudden increase in them actually, you know, checking for ID you can guarantee that a similar effect would happen here.

Similarly, lets make problem drinkers themselves financially responsible for the services (such as the booze bus mentioned here) that are required to stop them killing themselves and each other. Lets get creative and lets get coordinated - no individual should ever be turned away from care of any kind but there should be standard fees for behaviour that requires those attentions. Can't pay it then and there? No problem, we'll send you a bill. Refuse to pay it and you earn points. Points, in this case, don't win prizes, they result (when an appropriate level is reached) in you going on the "banned" list for local pubs and clubs. These lists already exist in most places anyway for individuals who are known to be violent.

Suddenly we're back to that enlightened self-interest thing - act like a dick and don't pay the cost and you'll find that you're unable to drink in the places that your mates want to drink in. Worse, they're not gonna be too impressed if sneaking you in and buying you drinks results in them getting on that list as well.

Basically I guess I'm saying that people have a right to drink how they want to drink, but they have a duty to pick up the social tab for the consequences and we, in this country, need to start thinking about how we make sure that happens.

What will actually happen, of course, is that the Government (and the fascist Tories and spineless Lib Dems would do the same) will raise tax on beer again and declare the problem solved. Thus managing to shirk the issue, put the cost on the people who aren't the problem anyway (since it's spirits and bottles that your real hardcore drinker goes for), and drive some perfectly reasonable drinkers down the hardcore boozing path (since its now financially better to drink the harder stuff) at the same time.

Woo! Go Government!


Sorry. That was an incredibly long post but this is a topic that is rather close to my heart (or liver).
posted by garius at 7:01 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


My latest theory is that airbrushed made-up televised superbabes and superhunks have raised our standards of beauty so high that everybody else seems ugly, and the only way we are able to bring ourselves to form relationships is by chemically damaging our senses.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:22 AM on December 19, 2007


Without going into huge detail, as a misplaced american living in the UK, they've got an absolutely insane binge drinking problem here.

As a displaced Australian, I agree. Antipodeans have a reputation as hard drinkers but in reality are rank amateurs compared to the English. A lot of it is enculturated. When I was working in London, a lot of my work mates didn't regard it as a proper night out unless they got hammered.

In my reading, I came across an interesting observation about this. Cultures can be classified as "integrationist" or "prohibitionist" as regards their attitude to alcohol. The first - typically the French and Italians - regard drinking as a normal part of life, and not taboo. Children are often given small drinks by their family at an early age. If someone is an obnoxious drunk, it's viewed as a personal fault and not the fault of the drink.

Prohibitionist cultures maintain a taboo around drinking, restrict the sale of alcohol and drunken misbehavior is blamed on the demon drink: "It was the alcohol talking, I got drunk and a bit stupid, sorry". Hello England.
posted by outlier at 9:58 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Londoners, is drinking really that large of a problem? It sounds like everyone in central London really needs to "get their shit together."

London's a big enough place that it's hard to make generalisations. The centre of London? Not so bad, from my experience. Too many people, too many cops, and everyone has to get back home by public transport. Some of the surburban high-streets (local shopping strips) can get a bit ugly. The worst places I've seen are outside the capital in regional centres. Reading on a Saturday night is horrifying.

Oddly enough, I once spent a New Year's Even in Edinburgh and they were the quietest, most polite drunks I've ever seen. Not a single fight, obnoxious scream or passed-out body.
posted by outlier at 11:40 AM on December 19, 2007


Because of alcohol, I'd say the english are some of the worst behaved people in europe. And that's just fucked up.
Go to belgium, finland, Italy, wherever. They might drink as much but they don't pee on things, vomit all over the place, pick fights, stab passersbye on bikes, shout at people going to work, etcetera.


A couple of years ago I went to Ostend in Belgium for a weekend with some friends. On the Saturday night we had dinner at a restaurant in the main square in the town. There were several bars and restaurants around the perimeter of the square, none of which were the heaving drinking dens you'd find in a market town in England.

As we ate our meal, we watched people, many of them middle-aged or elderly couples, out for a stroll, walking their little dogs, enjoying the evening. We commented on how unlikely that would be in Romford market place at 10pm on a Saturday night.

I used to live in Derby, in the Midlands. Many of the fine buildings in the town (the main Post Office, many of the banks, council offices) have been converted into huge 'chain' pubs and, as others have said, the town centre is a no-go area for anyone who isn't off their face.

Last Christmas Eve I was in Columbus, OH, with the children of friends, seven or eight of them aged 21-24. One of the girls asked me what she'd be doing if she was in England at that moment, and everyone was surprised if not shocked when I said 'you'd be drunk'. It wouldn't have occurred to a single one of them to go out on the lash on Christmas Eve. They all acknowledged they partied from time to time at college and were astonished to learn that all colleges in the UK have bars on the premises and that it's considered the norm amongst many students to drink at lunchtime and every evening.

What I find most disturbing is that there are thousands and thousands of young people in the UK whose sole leisure activity is drinking. It cannot wendell.
posted by essexjan at 1:33 PM on December 19, 2007


Ach, Christmas drinkers are the worst. All these amateurs clogging up the pubs. Still, even I wouldn't deny them Xmas eve on the lash. What's the alternative? You don't want to clear up a house party on Xmas morning after all.
posted by bonaldi at 3:02 PM on December 19, 2007


Ach, Christmas drinkers are the worst. All these amateurs clogging up the pubs. Still, even I wouldn't deny them Xmas eve on the lash. What's the alternative? You don't want to clear up a house party on Xmas morning after all.

That's a fair point as well actually - Christmas does have a habit of bringing out the ol' Two Can Van-Dammes in force.
posted by garius at 1:34 AM on December 20, 2007


The Two-Can Van-Dammes are after me Froot Loops!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:14 AM on December 20, 2007


Going out on the lash on xmas eve, I should be so lucky, it'll be me and the cat at my SO's folks while everyone one else avoids catching the eye of the drunks at midnight mass. Back in the good old days we used to get trolleyed as it was my mate's birthday so we could get hammered then go back to his for food prepped by his mum, most of us would even keep it down. We didn't go back after one of us leant back on one of his mum's good dining room chairs and snapped the back legs, then had to squat over the pushed together bits to pretend it was in one piece.

it's considered the norm amongst many students to drink at lunchtime and every evening.

I used to work behind a student union bar and daytime drinking was not desperately substantial, we'd be lucky to do 25 pints an hour, and much of that was staff on their lunch hour, so I'd argue that the number of students regularly drinking during the day was pretty small.
posted by biffa at 3:24 AM on December 20, 2007


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