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“Show me your [stiff upper lip]!”


Via Christopher Shea comes news that will surprise no one I’ve talked to since returning to the States:

Irish drinkers lead the EU in the proportion of those drinking that have 3-4 drinks (35%) or 5-6 drinks (19%). As 5 or more drinks as the threshold for binge drinking, the Irish Times hails our success in binge drinking. But wait.  Binge drinking is 5 or more drinks. It’s true we lead Europe in the category of very precise binge drinking, i.e. 5 or 6.

But you have to look at all consumption over 5 drinks. For Ireland there’s another 5% who have 7-9, and 2% who have 10 or more. Total percentage of bingers: 19+5+2=26%.  For the UK: 12% have 5-6, and 6% have 7-9, 6% have 10 or more. So 12+6+6=24% are binge drinkers.

I spent more than a few evenings in London stunned stupid by the prodigious quantities of alcohol everyone around me was consuming.  I’m not simply talking about London toughs either, but professional men and women who stepped in the pub on their way home from work intent on crawling out of it seven hours later stained and debased.  If their infamous reserve is roughly equivalent to the Freudian superego, I would say that it performs its role quite admirably until the moment it inexplicably abdicates its responsibilities and allows the id to do what it will. 

And will it ever. 

The abuse that streams from their formerly stiff upper lips is more foul than anything this side of Deadwood.  That polite archeology student in the hipster sailor suit you were talking to ten minutes ago?  He no longer remembers who you are, but is damn sure you gave him mortal offense and insists on taking it outside before disappearing down the bar.  When he returns a moment later he promptly introduces himself.

Now I’m not unfamiliar with the levels of public intoxication and its attendant calls to violence I witnessed in England, but keep in mind that this is April and the Krewe of Bacchus is nowhere in sight.  When your nightly ritual resembles nothing so much as Mardi Gras, it might be time to consider cutting back on your cups.  Harsh criticism from a guest to be sure, but it’s not like I’m an evangelical teetotaler.  I end my days with a vodka-something or two (depending on how stressful being awake has been) and am in no position to lecture other people about the manner or amount they drink, which is mostly my point: when someone like me marvels at the manner and amount of drink a given people consume, something is seriously wrong with the world. 

Because when people in no position to criticize anyone are flabbergasted into embracing their own hypocrisy it means you have a problem.

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