This guy’s got me pinned up against the wall with one hand, the other’s round my throat. Now, truth be told, I don’t have a macho bone in my body and any minute now I may very well, as mother will have it said, dump a gusher. He’s also happens to be built like a shit house, a symphony of gristle. To top things off, post-bop, he’s dressed as a very well known Disney character. I don’t know if you’ve ever been twatted by Dumbo, but by God it does nothing for your self-esteem. ‘I could fucking kill you’ he says, spitting beer and phlegm in my face. At this point I remember the advice they gave girls in my high school – ‘if ever you find yourself imposed upon by a gentleman of the irascible persuasion, try your very best to vomit on your attacker’. So while I’m trying my best to retch like so many supermodels (tricky at the best of times, even more so when you throw in a Neanderthal death grip), he slurs ‘y’see, I couldn’t lose face, you’d just…you’re not gonna have one up on me’, as he pushes my head against the stone for the second and third times. I should explain at this point that I spilled his drink.
Just five minutes ago Mr. Dumbo had been laughing, joking, a genuine human being; 0 to 4.48 Psychosis in five seconds flat and over what? Spilt milk. Or Tennant’s Special Brew, judging by his breath. Don’t let the dazed expression of the heavy drinker fool you – sure, they’ve got all the emotional depth of a puddle, all the dimensions of a badly drawn cartoon, but by Christ they’re quick with their fists. Perhaps noticing that my face is all too shockingly purple, he leaves off my throat and starts ripping the buttons off my shirt. You can barely hear them pitter patter on the ground in first quod over his frantic, heavy breathing. The next morning in college, as far as he and his friends are concerned, nothing happened. And that’s just it, as soon as there’s a question of culpability, the ‘lash’ steps in as an excuse: ‘Maaaate, I was well wasted last night, I can’t remember a thing.’
The risks of heavy drinking include liver cirrhosis, wet brain dehydration, damage to the nervous system, bowel cancer, low sperm count and shrinking of the genitals – I’m not saying binge drinkers are little pricks, but apparently they have them. In a 2001 study it was found that 40% of those who killed themselves in England and Wales had a history of alcohol abuse. In 40% of violent crimes victims say that the perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol. So why do we do it? We’re being screwed over by the drinks industry and their influence over pubs, clubs and bars. In a recent study, The Glasgow Media Group observed that the UK industry has become dominated by large companies, which own chains of nightclubs, bars and restaurants as well as traditional pubs. Alcohol Concern reports that they spend £227 million a year on advertising their products, while the government spends just £1 million on the treatment and prevention of alcoholism. ‘Vertical Drinking’ is a marketing buzzword – people are more likely to drink if they can’t sit down. We’ll drink even more if flat surfaces are removed and the music makes talking impossible. The drinks industry is obsessed purely with the volume of its sales. As Andrew McNeill of the Institute of Alcohol Studies has observed ‘at one point, one of the biggest owners of pubs was a Japanese bank. Someone in Tokyo is not going to worry about what happens in the British high street.’
The Glasgow Media Group questioned 244 young people in higher education, aged 18 – 23 on their opinions on drinking habits in the U.K. Here is one of their questions:”Do you ever feel pressured to drink alcohol in the sense that he would be left out if you didn’t?” This is potentially difficult for people to answer, especially in a brief questionnaire, since to agree is in a sense an admission of weakness. But as it turned out 31% said yes. So deeply rooted is binge drinking in our culture that we can’t imagine having a good time without it. What have the Romans ever done for us? Well, they did bring us the taberna, which quickly developed into the alehouse. As early as the middle ages binge drinking was being identified as a nuisance, especially among the clergy, leading Bishop Anselm to decree in 1102 “Let no priest go to drinking bouts, nor drink to pegs”. Government funded campaigns don’t seem to be working. But what use are billboards of girls vomming in the streets if these are the same photos that will appear on facebook tomorrow morning? It’s a hard drug that’s surrounded by a warm glow – we boast about how much alcohol we drink and its effects in a way we wouldn’t about heroin. Yet that so called dangerous drug kills very few by comparison with alcohol. We should be focusing on its darker effects, like what happens in alcoholic families. Booze is a class A drug with good public relations.