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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 20:43 GMT 21:43 UK
Carry on drinking?
By Hannah Bayman
BBC News Online

Binge-drinking is giving the economy a raging hangover, warns a new government report. But what do three bar room philosophers think?

Forget the scare stories - drink and be merry, says comedian and club-owner Bernard Manning.

Bernard Manning
I've had my share of hangovers in my time
Bernard Manning

There's an old gag that goes: 'I feel sorry for people that don't drink, because when they wake up in the morning, that's the best they're going to feel all day.'

If they did another survey, I reckon they'd find that drinkers live longer. That's because beer is so good for you - full of malt, yeast, hops and vitamins.

I've been a licensee for 50 years at the Embassy Club in Manchester and binge-drinking is no worse than it was back when I started.

You get the odd bloke in the club who can't hold his drink and is walking on clouds after four pints, but then another man can sup 20 and be alright - it's horses for courses.

I advise everything in moderation. I've had my share of hangovers in my time, but I'm teetotal now because of my diabetes.

If the champagne dried up the party scene would too, says television presenter and former Miss Great Britain Liz Fuller.

Liz Fuller
Liz Fuller: "Drink means no worries about getting your stillettos stuck"

At celebrity parties the bubbly comes round on huge trays and you don't pay, so more often than not you do drink a lot.

I've got a lot of friends who are out every night - they have to turn up to parties to be seen - and we probably end up drinking far too many units a week.

I've gone on telly the next day and thought 'ooh I feel pretty rough'.

All the rich playboys are into drinking lots at clubs like Tramp, Chinawhite and Aura. It's all about showing off and ordering magnums. Without the champagne, it would be quite a stiff and boring night.

Drinking is a big bonding session - it relaxes everyone and makes things so much more fun.

The great atmosphere comes from people dancing on tables and chairs, not caring if their stillettos get stuck. If you didn't drink you wouldn't have that.

Current fears over drinking echo those from generations ago, says John Greenaway, author of Drink and British Politics Since 1830.

John Greenaway
John Greenaway: "Women drinkers sparked moral panic last century"

Today's report shows excess drinking is being seen not just as a health problem, but as a social one - just like during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The current moral panic over binge-drinking harks back to World War One, when Lloyd George told the country: "We are fighting three foes - Germany, Austria and drink - and drink is most deadly of all."

There was major concern then over scandalous behaviour of women drinkers - many of whom had pay packets for the first time from work in government factories - leading the government to impose draconian restrictions on pub opening times.

The scale and cost of drinking in the UK

But in the period after the war, alcohol use fell sharply as people enjoyed new leisure pursuits like cinema and motoring.

By the 50s going to the pub was seen as fuddy duddy and square - young people preferring coffee bars, milk bars or discos.

But club culture has made drinking fashionable once again and with that comes the return of worries over underage drinking, late-night noise and strain on the health service.

Binge drinking costing billions
19 Sep 03  |  Health
Q&A: The costs of alcohol
19 Sep 03  |  Health


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