Joshua Glancy has a whinge about the bingeAsk yourself a question. How many great nights out have you had in Oxford which didn’t involve drinking? By drinking I mean getting drunk, smashed, twatted, having an apocolashtastic time…. you get the idea. Conversely, how many times have you had a really good time at an Oxford club or bop stone-cold sober?What is wrong with us? We spend our days solving fiendish equations or grappling with philosophical constructs amidst classical grandeur. Yet once or twice a week many of us reduce ourselves to slobbering wrecks, stumbling along the sidewalks, vomiting in toilets, being thrown out of clubs, fighting, shouting and generally being obnoxious. All this is achieved via copious amounts of beer, wine and vile tasting tequilas, vodkas and sambucas. It is no coincidence that Law Soc is the most popular society in Oxford. Not many of us are that interested in mooting; it’s the cocktail bins and free champagne supplied by ever-generous law firms that attract the thirsty hordes. It actually seems that the smarter one dresses for an occasion, the higher the likelihood of getting smashed. Black tie events begin with wine and witticisms but end in extreme intoxication. At the college balls we put on our glad rags and pay at least £70 for a ticket, yet once the formalities of dinner are dispensed with the evening takes a familiar turn. The next day is spent reconstructing hilarious drunken anecdotes, feeling sorry for oneself and addressing with great reluctance the inevitable work pile-up as our bodies slowly recover from the substance abuse of the night before. The cost is not just academic but financial – the mysterious disappearance of notes from the wallet, the unintentional £10 minimum drink rounds. How many of us would have genuine budget problems if it weren’t for the £30 or more we spend on alcohol per week? Of course, this generalisation is unfair. There are those who drink in moderation, and many to whom the joys of alcohol-induced mental retardation hold little appeal. Yet amongst the party-going circles in Oxford – the societies, the sports teams and the social clubs – drinking on a night out is expected, non-participation frowned upon. Attempting to go out sober in such environments leads to calls of ‘man the fuck up’ and ‘get it down you’, or my own particular favourite chant of ‘down or gay.’ What is disconcerting for many is the normality with which such behaviour is viewed. We have become immune to our own absurdity. I remember during my own Fresher’s Week being regaled in the JCR by a jaded second year medic with a story of how he had measured his own liver at the end of his first year to gauge the ‘massive’ effects of his drunken antics. No one else appeared distressed by this puerile bombast, so I nodded along. Now of course, I am wiser. I no longer believe drunken medics capable of analysing their own livers.Here we arrive at the issue of what the national press gleefully refers to as ‘Binge Drinking.’ Having established that the lash train has pulled into our station, we must ask ourselves why we feel we must behave in this fashion. What does it say about us? If you take the sound advice of Jeremy Clarkson, ‘Binge drinking is good for you.’ What he loves most is ‘Really getting stuck in. Hosing back the cocktails until the room begins to swim and my legs seem to be on backwards.’ Beneath the inflammatory demagoguery that represents your average Clarkson article, there might be a point here. He highlights the group affinity that stems from a night out together, from being hung-over together. The promise of a big night can act as a motivation to get through the week; the act of getting drunk with your friends a release of tension and frustration – especially at Oxford. With large workloads, smug friends at other universities going out every night, small and unimpressive clubs and a rather ominous 40 years at a desk rapidly approaching, a night of reckless abandon and alcohol consumption is understandable. If anyone has ever tried attending a bop sober they will have noted it looks like a scene by Hieronymus Bosch, and in all likelihood they left fairly quickly. Given that those are the only college parties available, what choice do we have if we wish to attend and enjoy such an evening? Much of what we do here is both diligent and virtuous. Surely there is nothing wrong with setting aside degree and career every once in a while and having some fun? Cicero tells us ‘Let some allowance be made for a person’s years, let youth be allowed greater freedom. Let not that severe and unbending reason always prevail; let desire and pleasure sometimes triumph over reason.’ I’m with him.Of course, Cicero himself had a strong commitment to virtue and action, and meant such distractions to enhance our everyday lives rather than subsume them. Occasional reckless abandon is justifiable, but let us not become members of the ‘cult of the lash.’ Let us not forget how to communicate with members of the opposite sex without slurring our words, or that friendship is much more than simply getting drunk together. Let us not venerate the vine. Issues such as alcoholism, physical damage and serious financial and academic difficulties are not to be sneered at. So the next time someone shows off to you with a liver damage story, consider how fucking stupid they sound, and you will have gone a long way towards solving your binge-drinking problem.