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Archive for February 19th, 2009

Binge drinking is part of our national Zeitgeist

I am grateful to fellow blogger and Twitterer Diane Levin of The Mediation Channel in the US for drawing my attention to a seminal article about the work of academic  Binge drinking mavens at Teeside University – a seat of learning in the North of England.  (Overseas readers and Londoners may find this geographical referencing of some value)

Are there positive aspects to Binge-drinking? Professor Anna van Wersch asks the people of our sodden isle. I quote from the article: “Prof van Wersch explained that while official data tends to quantify binge drinking as five consecutive standard drinks in one sitting for men and four for women….”

I suspect that I speak for many in our profession when I suggest that researchers and government busybodies confuse official definitions of binge-drinking in quantitative terms with what many of us regard as merely ‘opening the batting’ for a decent evening out. Although, to be fair, the researchers did qualify their remarks… ” the researchers explained to participants they were using the term ‘binge- drinking’ to mean ‘a drinking occasion leading to intoxication’.”

To an experienced top order drinker, two bottles not out is, of course, a perfectly respectable score, but it has to be said that some of the greatest batsmen and batswomen of the  “beautiful game of drinking’ often go on to a higher score before being stumped, declared leg before wicket or clean bowled.  Now that Sir Allen Stanford has been arrested by the FBI and sundry other law enforcement agencies for alleged Ponzi style activities in Texas, we cannot really hope for any sponsorship for the Olympic Binge Drinking Games in 2012 – a side event being organised by enthusiastic topers as an anti-dote to  the Olympic games – an event of little interest to many in this country… since the authorities got shirty about banning performance enhancing drugs.

Prof van Wersch, whose findings are published in the Journal of Health Psychology, says we are more inclined to “drink to get drunk” while our continental cousins “simply enjoy the taste of a glass of wine”. She said: “People in England are more high achievers than the Dutch. The quality of their work has to be perfect and their performance is much higher. “There’s a lot of pressure to do well and to behave appropriately and control one’s emotions and that can be stressful..”

While I am delighted by Professor Van Wesrch’s findings, which, for the most part I accept and shall be encouraged by – there is also an element of monumental bollocks in them.   The British,  high achievers, under-achievers and the terminally cool simply like to get pissed.  It is one of our skills, part of our history, our tradition and goes with our disdain for authority and over government….. May I have a government research grant please?  A large one, if you please?   I think this subject needs further analysis.

Terms of reference for Further research
I extract one of Professor van Wesrch’s findings for further analysis: “There is a marked contrast to drinking alcohol in a ‘dry culture’ like Britain, where many people do not drink during the week because they have got work next day and don’t want to suffer from a hangover.”

This latter finding is clearly a fallacy and, viewing it from the legal perspective, verging on defamatory of the people of this over-governed isle….  and  could, if this gets out, lead to 10,000 drinkers on the streets with flaming torches demanding  an apology.

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Podcast 103: Carl Gardner on the Lords judgment in Qatada

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the House of Lords Qatada judgment and the aftermath ….

Listen to the report with Carl Gardner

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Podcast version for iTunes

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