When I was a teenager, I discovered the classic comic strip Andy Capp. Aided by bulbous nose, 3' height, and cockney accent, Andy Capp showed us the lighter side of English drunkenness, poverty, and spousal abuse. The charm of Andy Capp lies in the friendly exaggeration of certain cultural perceptions.
And this year, we get to see the basis for those perceptions. The British have shown themselves to be a nation of drunks on New Years and there is nothing charming about these lads or lasses. The Daily Mail has a story reporting that emergency services recieved ambulence calls every eight seconds on New Year's Eve. According to a Belgian girl visiting England:
"At 9pm I saw people throwing up - England is totally different to Belgium."Most of us would happily join with her, assuming there was no risk of a chest stabbing. Neverthless, this is no laughing matter. According to a 2004 article in the New York Times:
"The whole evening I have been watching English girls wearing dresses that only just cover their underwear. They zig-zag through the streets in their tiny skirts."
"Even though I haven't drunk tonight I have had such fun laughing at all the drunken English people."
"Binge drinking is now so routine that young people find it difficult to explain why they do it," a recent Home Office report said.Perhaps they should investigate the link between alcoholism and short term memory loss?
Now unlike Andy Capp, these young people are idiots who need help. Now we can laugh at caricatures of snooty Frenchman--the beret, the complete neglect of the use of soap and water, smoking like a chimney--while knowing that most Frenchman are quite normal, aside from their outraaaagous accents. But when we laugh at these drunken Brits, it isn't a stereotype. This is England.
I have no clue what to do about it. Close the pubs earlier? A nationwide advertising campaign along the lines of "Don't Drink Yourself Stupid, Ya Ale-Soaked Bints!"? Or perhaps an high profile series on the telly with stars who are exemplars of moderation and sexiness.
On a closing note, I present this picture:
What in the name of decency, fashion, and common sense possessed these girls to leave the house only wearing scarves? The low for the day was 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This indicates to me that these gals weren't very sharp to begin with. Or perhaps their alcohol fueled brains decided their bodies were far too hot to be covered up and therefore they ought to shed those unnecessary shirts and sweaters or dresses. And who needs pants? You've gotta let those flabby buttocks breathe!