by Joe Wellington Picture this: it’s a Thursday evening and overcooking my latest tutorial assignment has left precious little pre-drinking time. However, not all is lost. By cranking the usual drinking games up a notch (downing vodka shots to the sound of Pendulum’s ‘Blood Sugar’) I find myself in a perilously drunken manner in good time to make The Bridge before it gets full.Abandoning my bike outside The Bridge, after undertaking what can only be described as a suicidal journey, I find myself in the queue. I am in such an intoxicated state that I no longer see the world as it is, but as a series of long exposure photographs with long streaks of light occasionally attracting my attention. No problem; I’ll just flash the Bod card whilst trying to stare vaguely at the ground.
After 45 minutes I was out, to the sound of the familiar phrase ‘I’m going to have to ask you to leave.’ My only crime? Throwing a tray of drinks onto the floor for no apparent reason.I’m not bothered. One of my good friends has also been evicted, and we start to walk back, bumping into another college mate on the way. The next thing I know, we are all stripping off our clothes before plunging into the surging Castle Mill Stream, to the astonishment of onlookers.
Someone cleverly took our clothes, and so whilst stumbling naked up Hythe Bridge street we are stopped by the police. I decide that I’m not up for a night in the cells and so make a dash for it, eventually jumping back into the raging river in a last ditch attempt to lose the police. ‘Genius,’ I remember thinking.Things start to spiral out of control and before long I’ve got a number of officers chasing me along the bank throwing life buoys at me. Then, with a surge of white water, I am swept under a bridge, where there is no space to breathe between the rushing river and the bottom of the bridge. Whilst trapped under the bridge, with my life hanging in the balance, I experienced life changing thoughts. Only then, when I was close to death, did I realise how utterly stupid everything I had done in the last few hours had been. Luckily I survived, and was taken to hospital with hypothermia.Now, let me evaluate the whole story, in light of the dangers of binge drinking. Firstly I would like to say how underrated the danger of binge drinking is. When totally drunk you are not in control of your actions, and your judgement can rarely be further from reality. University lifestyle is a dangerous one, in that to some students it is normal to go out two or three nights a week and get completely legless. This is a serious health risk. I’m not talking about liver damage – although this will result eventually – but rather the risk we pose to ourselves and each other when in this state. Clubs and societies really can be disastrous too, often encouraging or even forcing binge drinking through peer pressure. Freshers’ initiations (which are banned in some universities) are particularly dangerous, where entry to the club or society is only gained after the subject has drank themselves into a stupor.I’m not calling for any of these activities to be banned, but for them to be undertaken in moderation. In some ways, I’m glad that I received this treacherous wake-up call because it has shown me the error of my ways; it’s great fun to go out, have a few drinks and perhaps once in a while get drunk. But not to the point where you lose control of body and mind (as I did), and certainly not to the point where the pleasant evening out rapidly transforms into a survival situation.
Joe Wellington is a Physics student at LMH.