Only forty odd years ago the minimum drinking age was 21 years. Pubs opened and shut with strict split second timing. Drunken or antisocial behaviour were not tolerated. The 'Off licence' was the only place you could get alcohol out of pub hours. On a Sunday morning, it was impossible to get alcohol.
Now we have access to booze 24-7. Supermarkets. Nightclubs. Duty free 'booze cruises'. Wine shops. Hotels and casinos. Pub extensions.
The government blame this dramatic change of environment over the last few decades as today's 'binge culture' and so want to crack down on underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.
What happened? Why the sudden interest? The introduction of cable TV and the 'couch potato' has forced the Landlord and his dwindling pub population to invent new ways to attract customers "The Happy Hour" over the last twenty or so years has proven a effective 'carrot on a stick' to get 'bums on barstools'. (Our American readers might have a very different idea as to what a 'bum' is!)
The Happy hour is an incentive for pub-goers to drink many times the alcohol they can handle for many times cheaper than the usual price.
The 'binge drinker' is born.
Alcohol used to be served from a spirit bottle into steel measures or from barrels tipped on their side. Now we have a whole range of re-packaged booze to appeal to the teenager. 'Alcopops'. This is range of brightly coloured liquids with shots of alcohol that can easily be sold alongside sweets and ice cream and dressed up to look quite innocent as refreshments go. We have cocktails sold with convoluted names to describe some concoction, when drunk, delivers a rapid alcohol effect. "Brain Damage" "Screaming Yellow Zombie" or one I personally tried recently called "Slow Orgasm up against a wheelie bin". It didn't live up to its name!
We have other odd names for our favourite tipples.
'Hair of the Dog'
'Falling down water' and so on.
A whole new vocabulary has emerged. 'Bladdered' 'Out of my tree' 'Lagged up' 'Mortal' and 'Chemist' are all adjectives of what having too much alcohol can do for you, once any loss of control takes place.
A 'Laddette' is a girl who can guzzle her drinks at the same speed as any man who chooses to compete.
Statistics alarm us when we discover that a whole new generation of women may not reach the age of forty because of the simple fact that the female metabolism is not able to process alcohol by only one third compared to that of men. Just because they can hold their drink doesn't mean the damage is not already done.
Getting 'smashed' as often as possible is very much a part of adolescence it seems, these days. If we all choose to ignore the dangers, then such a social problem will give rise to many other issues in our own sphere of life. Already drink driving has increased in Cambridgeshire again this year. Street and Domestic violence becomes the ugly cousins of alcohol abuse.
What is the answer, without spoiling our fun?
We are a mad lot. Most of the time we try to act sensibly when we are sober. We learn to our cost the next day as to what abominations we incurred by the gossip across town the next day!
We want to be sensible really.
We generally want keep within motor speed limits. Put sunblock on our kids. Choose a good diet. But for an ever increasing proportion of us, just get a couple of drinks inside us on a weekend out with the mates, and we become a liability.
But when I go out I want to get 'wrecked'!
Sure you do. Until that last drink, eh? Where you end up draped over the toilet all night, have to call in sick at work and have a touch of the 'never agains' for the rest of the week until the next time. Sound familiar?
It's a lifestyle reality check that could be the difference to you enjoying your evening out and pacing yourself to either feeling disastrous for the next 24 hours.
It's a lifestyle choice? It's not mandatory. It won't stop you getting 'ratted' but it might save you from public humiliation, doing something you cannot remember later, and even worse a Mother and Father hangover.
Your choice that others respect.
I'm not your Fairy God mother when you go out for a drink. Neither can I give you the common sense to use it. It's your choice.
Nothing wrong with enjoying the ride as long as you 'hold onto the sides'.
Largin' it. Not losin' it.
It's a logical to avoid over-drinking to point of becoming anti-social or worse to such excess it spoils your night out.
We'll have Fun Fun Fun until the Landlord takes the Tequila away!
Largin' it and getting 'Lashed' on a Friday night has become the norm for young adults to become obliterated with half price hooch.
"What's wrong with a bit of a laugh and joke with friends and a few drinks, mate?"
We all love to go out and enjoy ourselves but in many more cases what starts out as a 'bit of a lark' with friends at the bar, too often, ends up with violence, injuries and arrests because revellers are unaware of how drunk they really are.
Here's a scenario. If we all thought we were OK to drive after a couple of drinks then we wouldn't need the Police Toximeter. Regretabbly, by this time, its too little too late, and disqualification happens. If only there was a means we could be sure how fit we are to drive before we 'chance it', or convince ourselves 'I've only had a couple."
The average pub regular does not want drunken individuals being abusive or collapsing on top of their jacket potato. Or belligerent boozers picking fights with them in the toilet when they decide to go out for a 'quiet drink'.
The real shame is that people stay at home more now, because they are afraid that their evening will be ruined by 'bevvied up' and rowdy drunks, likely to vomit over the bar or disrobe at will.
What do you want from your night out?
Is it a safe friendly atmosphere with hilarity and high spirits? Or, a night ruined by disruption caused by anti-social behaviour captured on CCTV?
What does the bar owner want? Exactly the same as you. A common desire. A hassle free evening and 'a good time had by all'.
What he also wants is for you to come back again. He doesn't want to have his pub closed down because of Police attendance to a brawl or acts of vandalism.
Dr Farquar advises:
Here are some ways to curb harmful drinking habits:
Wear boxing gloves on a night out. It won't stop your drinking but just make it harder to for it.
Put gravel in your shoes to make it more uncomfortable to walk to the bar.
Go out with an attractive Mormon to the pub. Mormons hate booze and coffee but glad to share their husband with lots of sexually repressed wives. Any believer in Polygamy might hold promise to keeping you sober enough to propose marriage asap and be converted to orgy oriented belief systems with the possibility of getting a group sex a little later on for the price of a bitter lemon and a bag of crisps.
Wear a catheter to measure exactly how much you have actually drunk.
Drink your pint with a spoon.
Rub a chilli in your eyes so you can't see your pint.
Rub a chilli on your genitals so it takes your mind off a pint.
Drink a bottle of Drambuie inside 30 seconds and never want a drink again.
Sneak into a care home and steal some dentures while the owner is asleep. Take the false teeth and pop them in your beer. Look in the mirror at the back of the bar and watch your little face when you go to sip it.
Life long bans when you visit a pub is a sure way to cut down on your drinking.
Here are some tips.
Punch an old lady and steal her scratch card to ensure being barred.
If that doesn't work as mugging is popular at the moment,try urinating on the landlord from the comfort of a barstool, shouting "FIREDRILL" may work.
If all else fails simply add an easily available horse tranquilliser to your favourite tipple. One drink will always be enough.