i Editor's Letter: A few too many sherbets


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The Independent Online

Now, if you are going to write in to a newspaper – especially if you fall off the precipice of reason into abuse – it surely behooves you to be sure that your criticism is correct.

Luckily, we are nice people here at i, and will not stoop to the public ritual humiliation that is the just deserts of those who told us in no uncertain terms we had misspelled or misspelt "desserts".

Judging by the fruitiness of these emails, and the time of night some of you were writing – along with use of BLOCK CAPITALS and multiple !!!!s – one might think that some of you had been on the sauce before writing. And we do receive some sheepish "morning after" emails from readers who admit to having had a few too many sherberts the night before.

"The sauce", "sherbets" – funny how many synonyms for being drunk we employ. But Benjamin Franklin, no less, knew even more. Way back in 1737, he compiled a list of over 220 for that precursor of i, The Pennsylvania  Gazette, ranging from those that have survived: addled, boozy and oiled –  to those that have long lost all meaning: "he's been with Sir John Goa", "he has taken Hippocrates' grand Elixir", or "he has got on his little hat'' and "he's got his Top Gallant Sails out". Clearly, getting "wamble crop'd" has been with us a long time. Perhaps, the terms slaughtered, pissed, trollied, smashed, rat-arsed, hammered, bladdered and s**t-faced, f**ked or t***ted lack a certain charm when contrasted with "cherubimical" and other gems unearthed by Franklin, but in truth all the descriptions have become part of the same problem.

If we are to seriously address the issue of binge drinking that – joking aside – is blighting our society, particularly on an urban Friday or Saturday night, we have somehow to change our culture so that we do not measure how good a time we had the night before by the amount of alcohol that was consumed. We have got to be able to find new and positive ways of answering the  question: "How was your night?" that do not revolve around boozing until we are "blitzed" or "mortal". We have to stop defining our nights out by how much alcohol we drank, whether we got "a***holed" or "eat a toad & half for breakfast".