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Why Do British People Drink?

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I should probably let you know before I start that I’m basing some of these opinions on personal experience with a few sweeping generalisations. That being said, hopefully you’ll recognise some truth somewhere.

So, why do we Brits so love a drink or six?

It’s a huge part of our culture and has been for centuries. From medieval monks slugging back ale to the whole country downing gin at the turn of the 18th century, the Germanic way of drinking has been one of excess from the very beginning. I’m intrigued by why the UK has remained such a wine-guzzling, pint-downing, binge-drinking nation. We more than live up to the stereotypes of liking a bevy or two, and I can’t say I’m an exception to the rule myself. What is it about alcohol that we just can’t say no to?

 

Drinking is an indoor activity.

If you are from the UK, or have heard of the UK, you are probably aware that we don’t exactly enjoy a balmy climate over here. Even in the summer months, much as we’d like to enjoy our cold cider in a sunny beer garden, chances are there’s a passing shower or biting wind that forces us to remain behind doors. And what better way to while away a drizzly Sunday afternoon than propping up the bar in your local? There’s usually entertainment on in the form of some football or other and we probably have last night’s hangover to drink away anyway. Drinking alcohol is an activity that can be enjoyed inside, warm and dry and cosy.

 

It gives us something to do during those awkward silences.

On many evenings and afternoons spent in the pub with my English ex-boyfriend and his mates, I often wondered what on earth they would talk to each other about if sports didn’t exist. Luckily for them they’ll probably never have to face that day. However, on those odd moments when the conversation runs dry it’s great to have a glass in hand to occupy a few seconds whilst we scrabble for a new topic.

On that stuttering first date, sat next to someone you don’t know well enough to enjoy a comfortable silence with, a few sips of something boozy keeps you busy while you desperately try to recall if their name is Tom or Tim. Marvellously, after a couple more drinks these conversations seem to flow much easier – which leads me on to my next point.

 

We are much better at sex (or think we are) when we’ve had a few.

I’m no advocate for drunken sex – far from it. But I do enjoy the freedom alcohol can give people in the bedroom. The British psyche tends to be on the repressed, reserved side (a massive generalisation, admittedly). I think alcohol frees us up and helps us relax, and that’s why we like it. Plus we often gain the liquid confidence to seduce that guy or girl we’ve had our eye on.

You know that thing you really want to ask your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover to do for you, but you just can’t seem to find a way to broach it? Here’s the perfect chance. Drinking strips away inhibitions and, more importantly, insecurities, which to be honest we should let go of anyway. I’m sure many of us have had those moments when we feel a bit too ‘British’ to say or do something naughty. A little Dutch courage can go a long way. We can really let go and enjoy ourselves for the evening – especially since tomorrow everyone’s memory of the night before is likely to be a little hazy.

 

We forget about our worries and our strife.

Alcohol is a balm. Apply liberally enough and all memory of your terrible day at work/fight with partner or parent/arseh*le behaviour of ex-partner (delete as applicable) will melt away into a fuzzy nothingness. Admittedly, these problems are likely to resurface along with a pounding head the following morning, but a few hours of forgetting is a kind of therapy. Life is sometimes a little hard to live with and, to put it bluntly, shit happens. I don’t see anything wrong with a night on the tiles to let loose and be carefree even if only for a little while. Since us Brits aren’t always so comfortable dealing with feelings (there’s that repression creeping in again) alcohol can be a useful catalyst for opening up. This isn’t a fool-proof measure, of course. For those prone to drunk-dialling, follow my lead and get a touch-screen phone that it’s nigh impossible for your drunken self to gather the motor control to text on. Or delete his number.

 

Alcohol tastes good. Really good.

There, I’ve said it. Alcohol beverages are delicious, which I believe is why many of us can’t get enough. What’s better than a cold beer on a hot summer’s day? Or a dram of whisky on an icy winter evening? Sharing a bottle of crisp white wine with a good friend over dinner? A dry martini after a hard day at work? There are so many occasions to enjoy alcohol and so many ways of drinking it, why would we not indulge? Maybe I’m a product of my culture, but I love drinking alcohol and would find it hard to stop. Perhaps we Brits are just that simple – we drink because it tastes good, it’s sociable and fun and, well, why not?

 

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