THERE is a phenomenon which is almost unique to Britain and Ireland.
It is a thing you see mainly at weekends, though you may step in the results on a Monday morning.
It could put you in hospital.
It could end your life.
It will certainly make you feel uncomfortable.
It is binge drinking.
Binge drinking fills the gutters of our streets with puke. It leaves urine stains down the walls of pubs inside which, are perfectly good toilets.
It results in young men and women who will go to work or college or, sadly, school all week, turning into caricatures, the stumbling drunk, the silly drunk, the singing drunk and, worst of all, the aggressive drunk.
Too much beer, mixed with too many spirits and, probably, a chemical or two, fill the Accident and Emergency departments of our hospitals.
Too much wine, too many cocktails and, maybe, something to sniff, fill the cells of our police stations.
Too many cans, too many gulped pints and, maybe, a smoke of something, fill our cemeteries.
There are three kinds of people in the world.
1. Those who drink.
2. Those who don’t drink.
3. Those who shouldn’t drink.
The problem is, that those who drink generally do so in a reasonably civilised manner. The worst they will do is tell the same joke a few times in succession or, maybe, sing when they’re not very good at it or, occasionally, make a remark that’s out of place.
Those who don’t drink just don’t. And whether it’s for religious reasons or just because they don’t want to, that’s their choice, even if it is boring for them hearing the same jokes over and over again.
The problem with those who shouldn’t drink is that they usually drink more than anybody else.
They are usually louder than anyone else.
They usually think themselves funnier than anyone else.
And they are certainly more aggressive than anyone else.
It is they who think it’s funny to, say, wreck a bush shelter.
It is they who think it’s a bit of a wheeze to snap a sapling tree.
It is they who get a laugh from frightening an elderly person.
It is they who have sex more often than others, who gets sexually transmitted diseases more often than others, who get pregnant or who get someone pregnant more often than others.
It is they who get the hump when they are refused by a barman, turned away by a bouncer or rejected by a girl, or indeed, by a bloke.
It is they who cause the damage to property, public and private. They who start rows. They who put others in hospital or end up there themselves. They who get arrested and bring shame on their families. They who wonder why it is that others get ahead in life.
As one who enjoys having a pint of Guinness and who…
No. Let’s be honest here.
As one who enjoys having lots of pints of Guinness. As one who enjoys several glasses of wine, I wonder why it is that those who shouldn’t drink persist in doing so.
I suppose that, if it were proposed to bring in a law banning such people from drinking, we would be told that their civil liberties were being infringed.
But we ban bad drivers, don’t we?
So why not ban bad drinkers?
Three month bans. Twelve month bans.
Life bans, maybe.
Teach them how to drink.
Make them do a test to prove they can drink.
And if they can’t do it, don’t let them.
Makes a lot of sense.
It would keep our streets cleaner, more pleasant and – above all – safer.
And would leave bars for people who can drink.
Even if they will burst into song every now and then.