Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Getting drunk

Mediaeval monk raiding the wine cellar
Drinking isn't about getting drunk. CAMRA says that, as do certain beer snobs who claim that we don't pay enough for our carefully brewed real ales. This may seem fair from the point of view of the small brewer who is struggling to make a decent living, but in fact they are all wrong because we are paying too much for our beer, not because brewers are ripping us off, but because the government is. I've written before about the levels of beer tax, and if you haven't signed the petition to Parliament about the beer tax escalator (by which beer tax is increased by 2% more than inflation every year), I'd ask you to click on this link and do so.

Going out and getting bladdered is now very expensive. I can remember on one occasion when I was student drinking 22 pints from lunchtime until we were chucked out of a Manchester night club at 2.30 in the morning. A year or two ago I mentioned this exploit in my local, saying I couldn't do that now, at which point my friend Sam pointed out that I'd rolled up at the pub just a few weeks earlier and said I'd had 19 pints in Liverpool, and had then proceeded to have a couple before being chucked out at pub closing time. The probability is that I have exceeded that 22-pint high point many times without realising it.

Although I rarely do it, every so often I enjoy a good session that lasts all day, and on one occasion, more than 30 years ago, I went a 28-hour drinking session. I know that I can drink 20+ pints and still walk home, lock the front door, take my contact lenses out and get undressed before going to bed, although I'm fairly certain I've never done it when I've had to go work the next day. I have never collapsed on the couch and slept fully dressed until the next morning. But I rarely indulge in such a drinking spree; on the contrary, quite often nowadays I don't arrive at the pub until after 10.00 p.m.

I'm not sure why I feel this desire every so often to go completely overboard, and I don't know anyone of my age who can keep up with me pint for pint when the mood takes me. I am for the most part a social drinker, but sometimes I like to blow away the cobwebs.

All I can say is that I have never been arrested, never been actually thrown out of a pub or been barred from one. The wife of a friend once told me I was the most polite drunk she had ever come across. I believe that bad drunken behaviour is not caused by the alcohol, but by the mindset that some idiots have that being drunk is a licence to behave badly - so they do. This view is supported by social anthropologist, Kate Fox, whose interesting assessment you can read here. My post on her findings is here.

Although it's now very unusual for me to embark on such all-day sessions, my experience of them has caused me to laugh at news reports which declared in shocked tones that some yob or other had committed offences after a 10-hour drinking session. Although drink is no justification for bad behaviour or criminality, the media seems to endorse that pathetic explanation by constantly repeating it. Why can't they see that they are giving yobs the excuse they need by allowing them to claim that their misconduct was caused by the drink? That it was not them really - it was all out of character - the drink took over. This is of course nonsense and an abdication of personal responsibility. It seems quite simple to me that if you can't behave when you're drunk, don't drink, at least not to excess.

In the meantime, on the rare occasion I have an all-day session, I still really enjoy it. I do recommend it: it's good for the soul. Just don't get into any fights.


  1. Jeez, I don't think I've ever managed more than 12 or 13 in a day and now would probably struggle with 9. My experience of all-dayers is that during the evening you tend to plateau but eventually very rapidly fall off a cliff.

  2. I know exactly what you mean: the secret is not stopping.


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