British People and Alcohol – The Ultimate Romance

If you are Brit and reading this, you will know what I mean when I say that a Brit’s best friend is a pint. After a long day of work and when we deserve a reward, only a pint will do. When there is something to celebrate, only a pint will do. When there is absolutely nothing to do… you get the message. We have a culture that is predicated on the rituals of drinking. Pre-lashing, for instance, is an institution unique to the British culture. Comedian Reginald D. Hunter once said that Brits’ drink like American’s eat and that we are the only nation in the world who prepares to go out for a drink by having a drink. A night does not sit right if it is not preceded by sitting in a hotel room/garage/friend’s front room drinking cheap petrol station vodka and tinnies of beer that I don’t really like but were on special offer.

Globally, the United Kingdom is the 17th ‘drunkest country’ in the world with the consumption of 3.53 gallons per person per year. That puts us behind France (3.61 gallons per person/per year), Ireland (3.81 gallons per person/per year) and South Korea (3.91 gallons per person/per year) but in front of Germany (3.38 gallons per person per year), Austria (3.50 gallons per person per year) and Slovakia (3.52 gallons per person per year). What alarmed me the most about this figure was not how much we actually drink as a country but how we are only 17th and how we were beaten BY THE FRENCH. Short of writing my anger, I want to go to the nearest pub and contribute my greatest effort to upping our number by at least .8 of a gallon.

Why do we have an affinity with alcohol? Is it the prestige of certain drinks such as port and their affiliation with stereotypical English traditions such as hunting?  Perhaps, but what about the ‘need’ to get hammered. Our calibre as a person is almost measured by the size of our hangover, the units of alcohol consumed, the ‘greatness’ of the UDI (unidentified drinking injury) or, dare I say it, the amount of  sambuca-stained kebab that we spew. I, like many, perpetuate the importance of drinking with countless anecdotes about the time when I passed out with my head in the loo or woke up on my friends bed in a bikini covered in bath robes with a dish size bruise as purple as a grape on my shin and puddles of my own blood all around the house with no memory. But I have found that there is nothing better to bond over than times we have utterly humiliated ourselves through the medium of vodka and cider. We all have friends who we were never really that close with but after getting drunk with them, you find them to be a go-to-guy for almost anything and it is not until that moment when they pass out on your friends sofa and lay there unconscious as your friends 6 year old brother draws a spider man mask and the words ‘I am a poo-poo head’ on their face, that you realise that you should befriend this person.

This all might be because I am 18 and about to go to university and my thoughts are on the infamous ‘fresher week’, this might be because I live in the rural countryside and there is nothing better for me to do, or, as my Mother suggests, my friends and I have a minor problem. But as far as I can see, there is nothing more institutionally British than getting so slaughtered you don’t know your own name.

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