As someone who spent much of their twenties getting as drunk as possible, as often as possible, naturally I flinch at the prospect of drunk people being carted off to jail. So I hope he’ll forgive me when I say Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, may be in the running for having had one of the worst ideas ever. Dr Mann thinks drunks should be arrested for being drunk. He believes the police should take a “zero-tolerance” approach to binge drinkers in order to stop them clogging up hospital A&E departments.
However, arresting drunk people for being drunk wouldn’t merely offload the issue of strained resources from A&E to the police force – who have also suffered budget cuts – but surely is also missing the point. Why, when millennials are drinking less than Gen X, are our town centres like the seventh circle of hell on Friday and Saturday nights? Why is my old home town Worthing riot-vanned up? Why does Shoreditch have piles of vomit on every corner? Why do we continue to get so drunk?
Ironically, though I have toured with bands, run club nights and even lived in a pub, some of the most legendary drinkers I’ve met have worked in the health service. They were nurses and doctors, overworked, stressed and desperate for a quick slide into relaxation and a mild lobotomy.
With limited time off between hell-on-earth shifts, getting plastered can seem the only viable and affordable option for a break. If you can’t leave the country, you can still separate your mind from your body.
Of course hardly anyone gets drunk hoping they will end up in hospital and contributing to the £1bn drunks cost the NHS in A&E services alone. We’re all deluded – imagining we’re as witty as Oscar Wilde, as wild as Rihanna or with as much moist banter as Dapper Laughs.
2014: The year in pictures
2014: The year in pictures
Chilly weather saw New York suffer under eight inches of snow and ice early 2014.
Afton Almaraz/Getty Images
Protesters catch fire as they stand behind burning barricades during clashes with police on February 20, 2014 in Kiev.
Ellen DeGeneres' selfie becomes the most retweeted in history sparking the selfie craze.
A Syrian man holds a crying girl as he gestures following an air strike by government forces on the Sahour neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Despite shocking images emerging from the country - and some claims of chemical weapons - the UK parliament voted against intervention in an historic loss for the government.
Deputies of Ukraine's parliament fight during a parliament sitting in Kiev in April, as the country continued its descent into chaos. The civil war - which rumble on through 2014 - has claimed an estimated 4,000 lives.
Rob Ford was elected in 2010 on a populist platform. He attempted to weather the scandal after footage emerged of him appearing to smoke crack cocaine
Footage of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamic terrorist organisation Boko Haram is released, shocking the world and prompting a global #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. Many of the girls remain missing.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl vanished from his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 but was released after US government negotiations with the Taliban.
Boys watch a screening of the 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match between Brazil and Mexico, at the slum of Varjao on the outskirts of Brasilia
The footage taken of Garner's arrest just hours before he died in police custody. His death would spark protests and riots across America
Debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed during flying over the eastern Ukraine region near Donetsk. It is believed that Russian separatists may have shot down the passenger plane, killing all 298 on board.
Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza. The ensuing conflict killed thousands and marked the lowest point in relations for years.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took personal responsibility, and praise, for the US finding and killing Osama bin Laden
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed in a confrontation with white police officer Darren Wilson, drew hundreds on to the streets of Ferguson
As the Ferguson protests deteriorated into violence Amnesty International deployed within US for the first time.
A supermoon rises over London
Ebola strikes Liberia, New Guinea, Nigeria and Sierre Leone. A slow response from the international community saw the deadly virus spread rapidly - at one point threatening western nations. More than 5,000 west Africans died in the outbreak.
John Moore/Getty Images
A Hong Kong protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas in what became known as the 'Umbrella Revolution'. Thousands of students, lawyers, teachers and managers took to the streets to protest China's continued control over the city's elections. The protest was eventually dismantled in December.
An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Reservist Nathan Crillio died after a gunman opened fire on the Canadian parliament building, shocking the nation.
Militants of Isis stand just before explosion of an air strike on Tilsehir hill near Turkish border at Yumurtalik village, in Sanliurfa province.
Shortly afterwards more fuel was added to delicate racial tensions in the US when another grand jury chose not to prosecute an NYPD office for the death of Eric Garner. His last words, "I can't breathe", became a rally cry across America.
Thousands flocked to see the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' evolving art installation at the Tower of London, prompting authorities to promise to keep a small part of the exhibit remembering the dead of WWI open past the 100th anniversary
A hostage runs towards a police officer outside a cafe, where hostages were held by a gunman. Two people lost their lives as the 16-hour siege was lifted.
A poster for ‘The Interview’ is destined for a bin after being pulled. The FBI suspected North Korea of staging the hacks that saw thousands of private emails from Sony employee leaked online.
The line between tiddly and twattish is thin, no more so than when it comes to Dapper, yet lads up and down the land are getting into fights emulating his kind of smart-arse laddishness.
I only know four people who have been admitted to hospital drunk: in 1996, when we were both 16, my mate had to have her stomach pumped. In 1998, another mate had his nose almost bitten off while waiting to be served at a free bar.
The same year, I threw a remote control to a friend and it accidentally hit him in the head – he insisted on going to hospital even though he was probably not dying owing to a complete lack of injury.
The fourth person was a homeless guy I came across outside Whitechapel Hospital on a weekday afternoon in 2003. He was lying on the ground, blood all over his face, bottle still in hand, pulling his top up to show a hole in his stomach which turned out to be a stoma for a colostomy bag. I stopped to help and tried to work out how to get an ambulance to someone already inside hospital grounds. When the paramedics arrived they knew his name.
All these people, from the nurses to the homeless guy, lads to the students, the intellectuals to pop stars, they all use the booze to do something to them. They need it to help them relax, give them confidence, to feel grown up, to fit in or to block something out.
Those who have been to the funeral of someone they love may be familiar with the allure of booze to blot out painful emotions. Can’t Dr Mann call for fewer working hours or relaxation lessons in schools? Help people work out how to socialise without a dozen bottles of wine? Is adding another pressure really going to work? If getting drunk is a crime, it’s often a crime of passion.
How are we supposed to tell if celebs want to be in photos?
Celebrities go back to their homelands at Christmas too. So when I went to Dylan Thomas’s boathouse the day after Boxing Day and Michael Sheen was there I shouldn’t have been surprised – it’s just an ordinary should-have-been-Oscar-nominated Welshman enjoying a beautiful Welsh place.
My boyfriend side-whispered: “Let’s get a photo,” as I walked past, pretending not to notice. No way!
You don’t just bother a bloke because you love Frost/Nixon, Fantabulosa and all his Blairs. We debated if he’d be “cool” because he seems like a nice guy till it was too late.
Now my nickname’s “No Fun”. Everyone we told thought we should have accosted Sheen for a celeb selfie but, come on guys, – no one’s told me the rules!
I’m guessing graveyards and AA meetings are a no-no but a simple solution would be to put the onus on the celeb.
Make them wear a badge saying “Fun” or “No Fun”.