Julie Burchill: Booze is as evil as fags. But not as evil as indulgent mothers and their brats

The number of teenage girls who blame drink for the loss of their virginity has doubled - but not one blamed cigarettes

Share
Related Topics

Everyone's got their own Something Nasty In The Woodshed, and mine is Madonna's muff. Not in the flesh, you understand – rather, hand-held in black-and-white, glimpsed a whopping EIGHTEEN YEARS ago when some commissioning clown thought it would be a right laugh to give sensitive, sheltered me her book SEX to review. Visions of that greasy muff, which one could easily have fried an egg on without the benefit of oil, haunt me till this very day. However in recent years I've started to come round to the old bird. She hangs out in Israel, and now she's allegedly been seen with booze in one hand and a fag in the other as she celebrated her 52nd birthday.

BOOZE AND FAGS! The twins pillars of hedonism, demonised as heartless killers in the press, Booze and Fags are like a pair of fugitives who need each other but don't really like each other. I envision them on the run from the PC Police, each blaming the other for their pariah status.

"It's all your fault for giving people cancer!" yells Booze, fair chucking it back as they run. "You fat ignorant brute," replies Fags, stopping to light up. "If you hadn't got all those kids chugging down alcopops and beating each other up in the town centre of a Saturday night, we'd be laughing. Oh no, but YOU had to go and create an 8.5 per cent-proof low-calorie lager, didn't you?"

"You lowered the nation's sperm count and made my nan's breath stink!" retorts Booze. And on they go... together yet apart.

As a non-smoker who loves to drink and whose friends all smoke, I can see both sides of the story. There's no doubt that Fags gets the worst rap when it comes to shunning. I've just received an e-mail telling me that One Aldwych hotel, for a decade my home-from-home in London – a place where over 10 years I've probably spent enough money to literally buy a house – will get rid of its small number of designated smoking rooms from 1 September.

Meanwhile, down in the Lobby Bar where I've spent so many happy hours, people will continue to pay handsomely to ruin their health, as they will be doing in pubs and clubs all across the country. These drinkers may or may not go on to wreak havoc in cars, or they may take it into their heads to beat up or murder some innocent bystander – yet we still see adverts in which alcohol is portrayed as some magic potion, one sip of which will bid us enter some sexy, sparkly wonderland of fun and games. No one shows you photos of ruined livers on bottles of booze – yet no one ever went and mowed down a pedestrian or urinated on a war memorial because they'd smoked a whole packet of Benson & Hedges in one go.

While Fags is seen a cold-eyed professional killer who must have the full weight of the state mobilised against him, Booze is your crime-of-passion thug who causes havoc in his wake. A recent survey by University College London looked at the sexual and alcoholic habits of 25,000 people aged 16 to 44 over 10 years, and found that the proportion of teenage girls who blamed Booze for the loss of their virginity has more than doubled over the last 60 years – not one, to my knowledge, blamed Fags. Women who drank more than 14 units a week were 1.8 times more likely to have needed the morning-after pill at least once over the last year, and were 1.4 times more likely to have had an abortion in the past 18 months. Hmm, so much for all those "If you want to get pregnant, stop drinking, as drinking ruins your fertility" homilies; I had a feeling they were wrong, because, when I was at school in Bristol, I distinctly recall that it was always the girls who drank the most who got pregnant and had to go and live with their auntie in Shepton Mallet.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say that smokers and drinkers combined have never come half as near to ruining nice days out for me, be they in restaurants, museums or parks, as other peoples' children have – particularly the sort of entitled bourgeois brat whose moron of a mother is liable to say, as one cretin did in Waitrose a while back when her spawn came out with an ear-splitting scream: "That was a VERY good noise, darling – do another, even louder!" I'm NOT joking! Yet increasingly there is no place to hide from the creatures – they eat for free in formerly civilised establishments, and turn decent pubs into crèches. Come back, Booze and Fags – all is forgiven!

Tipping: Halitosis is the stinginess of the soul. So get it out!

Some people want to be remembered for their intellect, good works or unimpeachable moral character. It's highly unlikely that I will be commemorated for any of these, but I DO think I have a chance at being remembered for one of the things I love most about myself. Namely, that I am A VERY GOOD TIPPER.

It's always around the 25-40 per cent mark, and I definitely tend to tip girls more for extreme prettiness and men for personality. Unusually, I tend to tip more for bad service than good because I'm aware of how wearing a job like that might get and how annoying customers are.

People who work in restaurants just tend to be so much more attractive and civilised than people who eat in restaurants, and I'm including myself here, so lavishing them with cash seems to rebalance an unjust situation somewhat. And of course stinginess IS the halitosis of the soul. So come on – get it out!

Oh, and before the bed-wetters' chorus starts up about Zionist imperialist insensitivity to the poor, may I add that OF COURSE I'm only talking about those people who can afford it. So waiters of the world, spill stuff on me and see your tip double. Make sure it's not TOO hot though – I'm not that much of a masochist.

Reality TV: It should have been me on Big Brother, not Germaine

By the time you read this, Big Brother as we know it will be no more. My fellow Bristolian, the glorious Josie Gibson, will I hope have been crowned victor and entered the Ultimate Big Brother house. I'm backing Brian Belo for the big one.

Regrets, I've had a few, but the main one was not going into the Celebrity Big Brother house that time I was asked. They got Germaine Greer instead and I remember watching her vomiting on a roundabout with a colander on her head having just waded through manure – and feeling a real flash of envy, a rare emotion for me. I've pretended till now I was glad it wasn't me – but actually, I was JEALOUS. That's how much I loved Big Brother.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game