Is it simply British to 'get smashed'?





...It is no secret the residents of these isles like a drink, or three. An inebriated King James I once fell to the royal floor while greeting the King of Denmark, and a room at the Priory - the London rehabilitation clinic - is something of a rite of passage for British celebrities. But even here, the national outcry is reaching a fevered pitch over lager lad hooligans and increasingly, their female counterparts, ladettes, turning British cities and towns into what the new Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron denounced this month as "the wild west."...

Some compare the current push to the restrictive Gin Acts of the 1700s, which aimed to limit a cheap spirits craze that saw Londoners guzzling an average of two pints of dry comfort per week. Peter Brown, the British author and a self-described "drinker," recently labeled the hysteria over binge drinking a movement whipped up by "neo prohibitionists." Fintan O'Toole, the Irish-born author, penned a commentary in the Guardian newspaper suggesting some nations are simply predisposed to heavy drinking, and that the British (and the Irish) should not only accept but embrace it.

Mark Hastings, who represents the British Beer and Pub Association, served the $44 billion-a-year industry's opinion straight up. "Binge drinking is British," he said. "Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens are littered with references to heavy drinking. Harold lost the battle of Hastings because of a big night on the mead. You're not going to change this by fiddling about with a few laws."...

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