Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Drink to Get Drunk Not to Beat the Shit Out Of You

The news tonight was full of the effects of binge drinking and violence and legislation to stop kids being complete dickheads and beating each other up. Horribly drunken teens and 20 somethings beating the shit out of each other on Sydney streets at 3 am. The grumpy old woman in me took off.

When I was a girl . . .pubs closed at 10.00pm. There weren't many bottle shops around and Keiser Stuh Rose in a goon box (cask) was the drink of choice. I remember sneaking into the Brewers Elbow in Gordon, which had a supper license so that they could actually serve massive jugs of cider after 10.00pm as long as you had a toastie or a plate of nachos. Needless to say these were pre-random breath test days and I often drove home with one eye opoen.

The first Sandwich Maker I ever saw was at my Nana's "Bleak House Hotel", Sandy Lane, Stretford because it allowed her to permit the Manchester Constabulory to drink beyond normal opening hours.

Today, pubs, clubs are open until 3-5 am. Kids don't go out until 10.00pm because the space is empty if they arrive any earlier and the following, usually Sunday, is recovery day . . get out of bed at midday . .eat a greasy breakfast or better still takeaway Portuguese chicken from El Porto and vegetate in front of a video for the rest of the afternoon. It seems to me that the solution is simple. Get home, get the gladrags on . .go party at 8, finish at 12 and feel human the next morning.

I remember travelling in England at 21 years of age and looking for a cheap room in Stratford on Avon. We were summarily dismissed from the posh hotel by the concierge because we had backpacks and jeans . . (we were a little insulted because we were cashed up and judged purely on our appearance). He politely suggested that we might find The Unicorn, over the bridge and in a less fashionable part of town more to our liking. Clearly didn't want Australian riff raff in his establishment.

To the Unicorn we trudged. I knocked on the door. It was during those crazy times when pubs were closed from 2pm - whatever . . and lots of west country jokes about"what we do about six" - "why we av our tay about sex". It felt like we were trying to intrude on some clandestine mafia meeting only the accents were strange. A voice on the other side of the door asked us what we wanted. "A room for the night please!" we replied. We were let in to a darkened bar full, and I mean chocka block full, of tradies. They all eyed us (two Aussie 21 year olds in our backpack booty). Seriously, all we wanted was bed and breakfast, we'd walked for miles and were tired and in need of one of those huge baths that they have in old pubs. We just wanted to clean up and wash our hair and enjoy a quiet rum and black over the bar. The bar was in pitch black apart from a neon light along the back where the reflections of booze reflected psychedelically from the mirror behind.

We were ushered up the stairs in a whiz, like refugees fleeing from some oppressive regime and shown our rooms. It was then that we learned of the weird closing times in England. With much secrecy we were ushered to a clean plain room that reeked of fresh paint and promptly told that we could go to the bar but must utter nothing until opening at 6.00pm. (forgive me, it was a long time ago and I can't remember the exact hours.) Quite clearly, our publican was in fear of being busted. pwned, caught!

Bottom line, we had a blast drinking with painters and thatchers and concreters in the dark . . them fully overalled in their work gear, us looking like something the cat dragged in with wild hair and foreign accents it was fantastic.

Come 6.00pm . . we'd had plenty to drink but we weren't violent . . we weren't obnoxious. The tradies went home to their families and the younglings filed in from about 7.00pm. The band cranked up and we had a fantastic impromptu night in Shakespeare's town. We hit the sack at midnight and felt fine about the whole ordeal. None of this 'wondering what time the last Citybus leaves' and the prospect of walking 5 kms home because mum is defo not going to pick me up at 5 am! Or getting the kit off so the local police will drop you at the next crossroad (a ploy that DrumerBoy has used on warm summer nights) We were definitely 'well oiled' but not pissed, not violent . . it's one of my enduring memories.

Wanna stop idiot hoons behaving like crash test dummies. Close at 1am . . five hours in a pub or club is plenty . . Who needs to party at 2, 3, 4 am? Get ready earlier . . do your best and be in bed by midnight!

Rant over.


Damian said...

I usually agree with you on most things Baino, but here I disagree.

I suggest we let the idiot hoons continue their crash-test-dummying, and swiftly evacuate them from the gene pool. Problem should be resolved within 2 or so generations time.

ian said...

Sorry, Baino, don't agree with you. Licensing hours were only introduced in Britain during World War I to make sure workers were at the munitions factories. The French don't have licensing hours, nor do they get completely blocked and go out onto the streets of their towns and cities and smash everything up. Binge drinking is a social problem. The Scots tried shortening the hours at one time and discovered that the bingers just got drunk in a shorter time.

Some French style policing would work wonders - a squad of a half dozen CRS men would keep most city centres very quiet.

Baino said...

Bemchwarmer I've missed you! Ok I told you it was a grumpy old woman moment but I don't think natural selection is gonna work here. Mind you I don't think regulation is the answer either. It's the hooliganism I hate. And I admire you for your drink of choice . . coffee! Hey, Clare's planning a trip to the old country!

Ian: I know that Europeans drink from a young age and don't get blistered like the rest. Mine have always been allowed a 'chotapeg' at home but it's the drinking to get drunk that I don't understand. And the need to party until 4am . . .yours are young yet! I love a drinky poo and often get more than mellow but I don't go out and beat the bejeezus out of people.
Policing here is very evident and fines for serving intoxicated people harsh . . the Europeans seam to have the situation sussed. You are soooo interesting! How do you know all this stuff?
So who's to be held responsible?

Baino said...

or Benchwarmer even . .oops Chardonnay moment!

Nick said...

No I don't think it's a question of opening hours either, more the prevailing culture - the idea that you're not one of the lads / ladettes unless you can drink your weight in alcohol (preferably in half an hour). And complete indifference to the chance of future health problems as yer gotta die of sumfink ant yer? The only solution is to contain the problem with zero-tolerance cops in public places as you suggest.

Brianf said...

Now I have to both agree and disagree. Here in PA the bars close at 2am. When I was a bit younger and use to frequent bars at night we would all meet around 10pmish but we ALWAYS left before 2am. At 2 the police were looking for ya', at 1:30 they weren't. So effective enforcement and earlier closing time does help but you need both working together.

Thriftcriminal said...

Me too, I'm a happy drunk, I sit in the corner and fall asleep. The whole closing hour thing is a funny one. I hear arguments from people only a little younger than myself that closing hours encourage heavy drinking, "get the pints in before the bar closes" being the argument. The issue is the social acceptability of being shitfaced and anti-social. The principle of give em an inch and they'll take a mile applies here, because we have entered an era where freedom of all kinds is de-rigeur people have less guidance about how they should fit into society, how they should behave. I guess the freedom should be a good thing, but from what I can see it leaves a vacuum which people fill with whatever they feel they want (or whatever they are told they want, which is a great condition for people to be in if you want to sell something to them). I was raised by my grandparents and they had more definite views on how one behaved, perhaps they were uptight by comparison, but perhaps there were a lot of positive aspects to knowing how one should comport oneself. Have a look at the century of the self by Adam Curtis : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8655440618894671576

Quickroute said...

hmm..Difficult one to pin down this.
I think there are cultural differences that make the people in some countries more prone to binge drinking and violence.
In Buenos Aires you can drink beer 24 hours (one place closes another opens) but drink related violence is nowhere near as prevalent as say in the UK.
I think if a person is violent then drink will potentially lead to an outburst of violence in that individual. If they are not violent then they may just fall asleep after a skinfull.
Unfortunately there are a minority yob element who will start trouble and entrap others into their violence (in self defense).
In conclusion I don't think its the licensing hours but the yobs that are to blame. I'm not as convinced as Damian above that we'll ever be rid of them.

Anonymous said...

We had two normally nice underage girls from a few doors down screaming and falling all over the road outside in a drunken performance, not pretty. My eldest is being sent with the rest of the Seniors at school to a three day camp including 25-hour course as part of a mandatory requirement in all NSW government schools. They learn about personal and social issues focusing on drinking and drugs. It includes a Doctors Seminar! I'd love to be a fly on the wall, knowing half their tents will have parties in them. I agree about the earlier closing times for pubs, and non tolerance of drunken groups in public places but don't think anything will stop the younger generation from having a good time and being silly about it because of their experimental and immature age. I do think 21 is a better age than 18 to start legally drinking if they must.

Kath Lockett said...

hear hear Baino

Nonny said...

Ahh Baino I need 5 and 7 hours in a pub for singing and dancing and yapping and messing. I have never been in a fight in my life nor has my little mofo bro. Grant it, him and the lads do carry on a bit but only ever in jest. Alcohol is put on a pedestal, parents make a big deal out of it, punish kids if they drink so when the kids get to 18 they go mental. My parents never cared about us drinking, they’d let us have a drink with dinner or taste whatever we wanted as a result I do not care about drink, I can take it or leave it and rarely drink excessively, my little mofo is the same. Just jail the little feckers that cause trouble.

Ryan said...

Not to racially stereotype, but ask any of Adams friends who causes and picks fights in pubs and clubs and you will get the same answer. And it's not skips.

Damian said...

@Ryan - Sorry, but I believe you are grossly mistaken here. It usually depends on the pub. Go to any pub in the rocks, and you are guaranteed that any fight is caused by a person of Anglo-Saxon descent (i.e. skip). Race doesn't come into play, or at least, not as much as you seem to believe.

@Baino - Missed you too old lady! I'll have to come by and visit soon, I apologise for my extended absence, I've been flat chat with work =S

I think there is a relatively logical answer as to why people binge drink in Australia (and in the US), but not in Europe. The answer I think comes down purely to transportation and habit.

Here, we've been told for years that drink-driving is bad, so we have to plan our drinking nights out, and so when we do go drinking, we compensate for all the times we cannot. Public transport is shocking both here and the US (when compared with Europe), so it's not as easy to have a couple of beers every night then go home. Instead, we have many beers one night of the week, and alcohol will always lead to hooliganism when it's in concentrated spurts.

Provide excellent public transport infrastructure that allows people to drink and get home safely ANY night of the week at a reasonable price (taxi's are SOOOOO expensive), and you'll see that binge drinking will reduce dramatically.

Although obviously there is a component of cultural change that takes many years to flow through before there are any visible results.

Webcam said...
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Baino said...

Thank you everyone. I was quite surprised by the response. I gave this post about 10 minutes thought and then strayed from the point remembering a nice little interlude in Stratford upon Avon!

You all have valid points. And I'm happy to concede that closing hours probably aren't the main issue.

Policing is increased in trouble spots over here but the violence is increasing to the point where Manly precinct is now contemplating only serving drinks in plastic cups to prevent 'glassing' and events like Schoolies week on the Gold Coast are out of control thanks to 'toolies' older people hyjacking what is essentially a 'school leaver's celebration.

I think the point that the Europeans are used to drinking at a young age is also a good one and the public transport system is much better than here and elsewhere. My Grandad used to have 2 pints at his local every night then twaddle home.

There is a 'drink to get drunk' mentality whether it's escapism, peer pressure, or Saturday binging and all involve cultural issues that are very difficult to combat. Some people just like a fight and a little Dutch Courage from the booze binge gives them wings. Add a little Red Bull to the equation and you're a raging ball of aggro.

The types of drinks are also to blame. Disguised lolly water with high alcohol % that don't taste evil and Vodka that can be drunk with anything without really having a flavour of its own. Yaeger Bombs and mixing drinks are also disasterous.

I don't buy the 'race' issue though. It depends where you are. If you're in the hills, the troublemakers are probably the lebs, (few of whom drink I might ad) if you're in Cabramatta it's the Asians, if you're in Rooty Hill it's the Islanders. if you're in Burke it's the abo's . . .if you're in the 'shire' it's the Bra Boys, although one of the worst binge drinkers I know is a 23 year old, middle class white, hills based male! (no not my little angel . .he's good at avoiding a stoush!)

Damian, I like the saving yourself for the weekend theory. Thursday nights (traditionally pay day) and Saturday nights have to be the worst. Maybe if we had more 'local's' small, intimate, like the Europeans, we'd avoid large crowds like those gathering at the Fiddler and the Coodgee Bay (the two most violent pubs in Sydney apparently). Keep the crowds small and the policing large and some onus has to be placed on publicans who ignore the responsible service of alcohol.

I should have started a chat thread for this one!

Cheers :)

Babysis said...

My stand is I have a little boy who will one day be a big lad and the thought of him going into Sydney City is most unsettling. More and more young men are not just getting in fights - they are getting serious brain injuries. They are being attacked and having the living daylights beaten out of them - not one on one mind you - a gang against one. Now maybe that "one" made a glib smartarsed comment that then resulted in a beating to end him in hospital with brain damage, never to talk again (as 60 minutes showed recently). Maybe it was completely unprovoked as happened to our Apprentice some years ago in Surfers Paradise - he got off light with a broken nose and severe bruising to his eyes. I also believe the Publicans and their staff have a lot to answer for. Surely they know when a person has had enough - stickers are posted all over the walls of pubs and I personally have never in my 42 years of life EVER seen any refused a drink. Wake Up Austalia....this issue needs to be fixed. More police presence, earlier closing, once someone is totally pissed - then no more alcohol! Believe me - when I was in my 20's I have bee served at many a bar absolutely pissed as a fart - and still walked away with a ROUND of drinks not just one!

Emperor Ropi said...

well, you can buy alcohol in the morning and drink it later