When the pubs opened again after the first lock down of 2020 it was like everyone’s birthday had come at once. We’d gone three months drinking at home, and finally we could pay more money for someone else to serve us a drink. “Super Saturday” was busy, seeing bars and pubs full again after the long stint being closed. As we head into the second lock down I received an email from a drinks vendor company telling me they were staying open this time around as an essential shop. This got me thinking about the drinking culture in the UK- a country where buying booze is essential, apparently.

Young drinking culture

When I was a teenager I hit the bottle hard, and quiet often. Me and my friends at uni would think nothing of having a bottle of wine each before a night out whilst getting ready. That was our warm up. Then it would be double vodkas with a dash of red bull and shots of sambuca all night. I’d wake up in the morning not really remembering whether I’d walked home or got a taxi, but between us we managed to piece the night together. And this happened over the three years of our studies on average three to four times a week. Every week.

This to some people may seem an excess. But actually I think it’s now the norm in this country to have this right of passage with alcohol. Not helped of course by the fact that when you’re only 20 your body seems to be able to take it’s own weight in vodka without even a headache the next day. Your poo may be dark, but nothing a pint of orange juice won’t cure before lectures.

Students now are beside themselves that they won’t be having the “full university experience” that they should be having as clubs aren’t open. Some feel it’s their right to have parties and carry on as normal, as really what is the point in not having to get a job yet unless you can get twated on a weeknight? This is the culture that 24 hour licensing has established in the UK. I’m not complaining about it as I took full advantage of it myself when I was younger. But is this right?

A UK thing?

When I’ve been abroad I’ve witnessed Europeans of different countries enjoying a bottle of wine over dinner. That bottle lasts the couple at the table the full three hours they are there eating, and they share a jug of water also. In Vegas I’ve been in casinos where you can get any cocktail you like from the waitresses for a dollar, yet failed to see people in the gutter being picked up by paramedics as would surely happen here. Heck, it does happen here. And that’s without the free booze!

I feel like alcohol has become the point of a night out and not a side extra. It would be nice if people went out to be with their friends rather than the objective to be paralytic. And this applies to all ages, this isn’t a moan about the youth of today. When it comes to alcohol our brain has a barrier to learning. Just look how disappointed everyone is that the Christmas party is cancelled this year. The ones who are most disappointed are the ones that are normally under the table before the Christmas pudding even appears.

The problem

I’m not being a humbug, trust me I like a glass of wine more than most. But I don’t want to see paramedics being abused on a Saturday night for trying to pick someone up off the street. I don’t know what the answer is, or how we can enjoy drink responsibly. I don’t think advertising is the problem. I’ve never once wanted to try Tia Maria, even though the adverts tell me I’ll turn into a stunning Italian woman being chased around the street of Rome by a beautiful man on a moped.

I think the problem must be social media. I don’t remember before 2010 hearing of Brits Abroad enraging locals in holiday destinations. Social media has driven our partying with FOMO, making us all to want to been seen out. Everyone wants to look like the most fun, outrageous guy around. Now that we’re in this cycle of showing the world how great we are on a live feed I don’t see it stopping. Drinking is constantly in vogue in the UK, and therefore something we’ll be dealing with a long time from now.

It is essential that we can buy alcohol in the UK. This has been decided by the government. It is a fact. A basic need that people need today is booze. Just think about that. This isn’t just drinking culture anymore, this is our culture full stop.