Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Triumph of Banality

Greetings again from the land of fog and wind and two layered buses, where the air is sweet with roasting chestnuts and the streets are packed with revelers. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tommorrow is a day of thanksgiving of sorts as well, and it has nothing to do with the religious economy of the 1600's, on the surface. Thursday 24 November, 2005 is the day that Parilament, in an attempt to curb the alcohol problem of Britain have made it possible for a pub, club, bar, off liscence liqour shop and supermarkets to retail alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Proponents argue this will cut down on last minute binge drinking; opponents of course say "but now alcohol is available anytime." Beverage companies say "Ka Ching!" The arguments are all good.

To understand the root of this issue requires an in depth understanding of British drink culture, something about which I've made my own deep, ethnographic survey. Brits booze like no other. Not even the Irish can say they drink harder than the 'ol boys on the End.' But drink is common, and perceptions of it are quite a bit different than the Puritanical views of the US. Using Guardian stats, taken from Monday's paper and based on the National Health Service, I am a low to moderate drinker. Keep in mind, I am now drinking more than I ever have except maybe with the exception of my time in Breckenridge or my first year in college. What does light to moderate mean? Well, this is from 0 - 21 units of booze per week. 21 units is equal to 12 pints of beer. Roughly 2 pints a day barring the Sabbath. Now, if I drink 2 pints a day for 6 days, I will have a holy day on the 7th and be completely "assholed" in bed because of it. But, of course my 150 pound 5% body fat self is not the ordinary Brit. On average, Brits themsleves consume 10 liters of alcohol a year (200 proof) per person.

So when asked if the English have a drink problem? No, it's plentiful, cheap and now available 24 hours a day. On the bright side of the violence and abuse that will come when certain stereotypes drink a slab of stella while watching their team loose and being able to go get out and get some tasty white cider to finish off the spouse, is that Great Britain has 1 traffic death because of alcohol for every 100 million miles. See, the shoppes and pubs are prevelent to be near houses. Drinking blind is alright, but driving is completely out of the public consciousness.

This whole discussion started because MPs were afraid that pub goers were drinking too much in the last 15 minutes of a bar being open (most close at 11 or 12), resulting in drunks spilling on the streets and causing mayham. The obvious solution is to not close the pubs. No closing means no drunks on the street?...

Speaking of violence and drink, Frodo is in movie about the fans of my football club West Ham United (Claret and Blue). While in practice it's complete crap, there are some elements to truth about it. I'll go watch it because it's about my neighborhood here on the End; check it out, you can see some of East London. I've had beers in a few of those pubs on game day (aparantly). Though if you want real insight into Hooliganery, check out The Firm directed by Allan Clarke for the BBC (Gary Oldman has the lead too).

Not much is new really. I'm moving Saturday into a new place in the Docklands (over looking the Thames...). I'll still be an "Ender" technally (as much as I ever was), but I'll also be living in a nicer place with better transport links and a huge tv with all of the Simpson's channels (and more room for vistors). Docklands are a cool area rebuilt after being leveled in WWII. It's also pretty historic to London, and most of you know I really love water and sea, so the prospect of living close to it is always appealing. Besides, this now means KFC and TGI Mac Scratchies is 10 minutes away; I wonder if I can get one of those deep fried sandwhiches there...mmmm lipids

And on this note, I'm going to stop. The boring details of my recent life are not remarkable, though I did have my first proper curry Monday. I work, sleep, fulfill my quota of alcohol; such is Britain.

thanks for reading


Blogger Michael Yearout said...

Hey, Ben.

Keeping those pubs open 24/7 is not an all bad idea. Just think of those "blue laws" we still have in the USA that keep car dealers and liquor stores closed on Sunday.

Hope you're doing fine.

We have record snow in Breckenridge (and thanks for mentioning us in your most recent post - any advertising is good (remember P.T. Barnum?). This is probably the year you should have lived in Breckenridge - at least for the snow. But, oh-well, that's life - you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family and my time machine is still broken.

12:49 AM  
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