Booze Britain

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 by steveh

Booze BritainImagine yourself strolling down the Tottenham Court Road, you notice a young lady, bedraggled, slumped down against a wall, she smells of alcohol, her skirt is hitched up, she’s wiping vomit out of her hair, as you pass her by she offers to keep you company for the night, as you decline – her demeanour alters into a torrent of abuse.  It’s 1792, and you’re experiencing ‘Booze Britain’ as it was then.  The popularity of London’s Gin Palaces caused them to blossom like dandelions through the captial, the greed of landowners selling their grain to make the gin – pushed London’s lower classes into a frenzy of drinking, cheap, super strength alcohol from penny drams.  Life had become so seemingly tragic, intolerable and impoverished for the unfortunate and forgotten souls of London’s streets during the 18th Century, drinking was all they had to look forward to. In fact it was probably all they lived for, a daily abyssal blackout under the slogan “get drunk for a penny, dead drunk for tuppence, straw is free” (straw bed to pass out on).

Booze BritainOn the high street of Cardiff (imagine you are once again strolling), from a pile of rubbish a man soaked in his own urine and vomit waves a pathetic limp hand at you beckoning you to engage in a fight with him, staggering women pass by flashing their underwear and cursing like sailors.  It’s 2011 and you’re in one of the visions of Booze Britain as it is today.  Up and down the country the image is the same, the weekend sees A&E wards, often policed, overflowing with revellers so drunk they lose all inhibition, anything goes which usually concludes in abusive behaviour, or even worse – extreme violence.

Britain has again shifted into an epidemic of drunkenness, and supposedly for the same silly reasons as the 18th Century, cheap, strong booze, made readily available, pushed onto the consumers by greedy profit hunters.
But, if we’re not blaming supermarkets, we’re blaming the lack of family structure, absence of adequate piers, social pressures such as unemployment, poverty, ladette culture, 24 hour drinking laws, … and when those reasons are disregarded no doubt other equivocal reasons would be pushed upon us as fact.

Could it be that British people simply like to get drunk?  The French and Spanish have their love of wine, the Germans and Belgians their love of beer, but we British seemed to love the poisonous merriment. Saturday night in any town is like a festival in honour of Dionysus, but it’s just one image of what Booze Britain really is, behind closed doors many thousands more are drinking to get drunk. The extent of Britain’s boozing is not just limited to the youth who publicly humiliate themselves on our streets, mature drinkers tend to consume harder alcohol, super strength lager and neat spirits. Business professionals drink bottles and bottles of wine each day to relieve stress, underage drinkers seem to be simply bored of life, or following in their parent(s) footsteps.  Our coalition government has recently banned the sale of cheap alcohol, a can of lager can be sold for no less than 38p, a bottle of wine for no less than £2.03, a litre of vodka for no less than £10.21, but is this clamp down enough?

What more could be done? “Booze Britain” it’s a tough subject that is not necessarily solved by one action. If you’ve any thoughts on Booze Britain, how it’s effecting you or your local area do let us know in our comments section below or by leaving a reply on our Facebook page.  We do really appreciate all of your comments and we will be using them in our future posts.

  • Davva C

    I expect more from BITE than this stupid, surface skimming, Daily Mail style propaganda.
    If you had bothered to research the piece at all, you would find that alcohol consumption in the UK is on the decrease.
    I would encourage anyone reading this article to also check out Pete Brown’s blog, which contains many well balanced and properly researched articles on this very subject.
    Really pissed off and disappointed about this from BITE.

  • http://petebrown.blogspot.com Pete Brown

    ” Britain has again shifted into an epidemic of drunkenness”

    No.  It hasn’t.  This is simply not true, and shame on you for peddling this ill-informed myth.

    There is a long term trend of declining alcohol consumption.  Figures from the NHS and ONS show total alcohol consumption is down.  Drink driving is down.  Binge drinking is down.  Under-age drinking is down.  Alcohol related violence is down.  The only figure going up is alcohol related injuries/hospital admissions, and the reason this is going up is that the definition of ‘alcohol related’ is becoming increasingly ludicrous.  If you’re assaulted by someone the police will ask you “Do you think your assailant had been drinking?” If you answer yes, your injuries are alcohol related – even if you’re unable to give a physical description of your assailant, and have no way of knowing whether they’ve been drinking or not.  If you’re walking down a street and a piano falls on you, the hospital will ask you “and had you drunk any alcohol before this happened?” If you answer yes, that injury is defined as alcohol-related – even if your alcohol consumption had no causal effect whatsoever on your injury.  Alcohol related liver disease is going up too – but that’s partly because liver disease is the culmination of long term abuse, which in most cases now dates back to when we did have a drink problem, and partly because every single case of liver cirrhosis  in the Uk is judged to be caused by alcohol, even for non-drinkers, even though US data estimates that only a third of cirrhosis cases are linked to booze.

    Just thought that in an emotive issue like this, a few actual facts might come in handy, you know?

  • Beermonitor

     This tabloid rubbish would be more appropriate for the Salvation Army magazine than BITE.  As stated below alcohol consumption is falling in the UK (governments own figures from the Office of national Statistics).  The anti-social behaviour referred to is confined largely to city centers and around bang-bang music bars.  The pubs supported by members of BITE are in danger of closing due to lack of trade not helped by gross over taxation which is justified by referring to rubbish articles such as this one.
    Real  ale, even when consumed to excess rarely leads to problems. Get along to the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in August.  Last year 67,000 people consumed 200,000 pints of beer and 1800 gallons of cider!  There is minimal security at this event because there is never any trouble; just people enjoying their national drink.
    Few people can afford ‘problem’ drinking in pubs.  Most anti social behaviour and health threatening consumption is down to alcohol from supermarkets consumed at home or in parks.  If pubs were responsible for the problems which do exist then new pubs would be opening every week, not closing en mass which is the current situation.