The heavy cost of binge drinking
A FRIEND told me about a recent conversation she had with work colleagues planning an evening out together. They included a 25-year-old who made it clear that no night on the town was truly complete until she had been sick.
A FRIEND told me about a recent conversation she had with work colleagues planning an evening out together.
They included a 25-year-old who made it clear that no night on the town was truly complete until she had been sick.
This apparently mature woman had arrived at the rendezvous having already shared a whole bottle of sweet liqueur with another member of the workforce before they left home. My friend bowed out of the later part of the evening, before the “fun” began.
I was thinking of this sobering insight into the state of the nation when I read Richard Crabb's letter in last Thursday's EDP warning about the dire impact of last month's Budget price hikes on the great British pub.
The Chancellor has whacked 4p-a-pint on beer, and 55p and 14p-per-bottle on spirits and wine respectively.
Mr Crabb, from the Three Horseshoes, at Scottow, doesn't believe the move will have much impact on the scourge of binge drinking, fuelled by the availability of cheap booze in supermarkets.
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And one post-Budget survey seems to support his case. It reveals that some high street giants have slashed prices on bottled beers and alcopops as they compete for business.
Landlords have cried into their tankards many times over the years, bemoaning the impact on their businesses of everything from drink-drive laws, to price rises and, most recently, the smoking ban.
But this time I fear they may have real cause for alarm. I know we now think twice, then thrice, about going out to a pub, confining visits to special occasions when we can justify parting with £20 notes.
But I will weep into my wine glass if our wonderful pubs are all sold off to flash restaurateurs or for residential conversion.
What does that pub image conjure in your mind? My ideal has uneven tiled floors, non-corporate furnishings, a cosy open fire in winter, a pleasant beer garden for summer - and no screens or noisy machines.
There is nothing quite like finding a good one when you're on a walk, holidaying, out with friends or trying to avoid motorway service-style operations on a long journey.
But say the words “Britain” and “drinking” nowadays and I'm afraid most of us imagine the vomit-spattered pavements of our towns and cities rather than a thatched country inn with colourful hanging baskets below its mullioned windows.
The cost of all this to our heritage, international reputation and health service is immeasurable.
One cynical consolation - it should actually save the country billions in 30 to 40 years' time; I don't think many people who drink to be sick every time they go out will be around to draw their old age pensions.