Would seeing drunk footage of yourself make you change your ways?

A new scheme is being set up to embarrass binge drinkers into changing their behaviour - but why are Brits known for their drunken antics?

Share
Related Topics

Drunken revellers who turn up at the new triage centre in Cardiff will be shown CCTV footage of their drunken behaviour after they have sobered up. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out across the whole of Wales.

This begs the question, how do you tell if it’s successful - by how many groans of shame are emitted during playback? By CCTV footage of the number of red faces exiting the clinic the following morning?

But the bigger, more serious question it begs, and one which comes back up more often than a binge drinker’s kebab is this – why is that Britain has such a problem with drunkenness? What is the root cause of so many people’s desire to get shitfaced every Friday and/or Saturday night?

Now I’m in a good position to tackle this problem as, like most twenty-somethings, I did it solidly for a good ten years. And when I say solidly I mean not only regularly but also with commitment, with a kind of work ethic that you’d only find down a coal mine or in a soviet tank factory during the Second World War. I really worked that binge drinking, to the point where I wasn’t happy on a Friday night unless I was chewing on kerb.

Okay I’m exaggerating a bit. I liked getting drunk is what I’m trying to say. The important point is that I’m the rule and not the exception. So what were my motivations and those of my mates and by extension all the young people in the UK binge drinking today? Well here goes...

Firstly there is the crap job factor. We come out of school or university and we invariably go straight into a job that we hate because we need to start paying off debts, get out of our parents’ hair, start paying rent and bills etc. etc. We work in offices, in factories and in call centres lined up in rows like battery chickens. How many UK twenty-somethings are doing a job they like? I’d like to see the statistics but I’d take a punt that the numbers are very low.

Then there’s the work-life balance. Because crap jobs by their very nature don’t pay well, you have to work all God’s hours to earn enough money to pay off said debts, rent, bills etc. Your days are not your own and your evenings are spent sitting vegged out in front of Corrie with a TV supper and a mounting dread of tomorrow.

These two factors work together to create pressure. The pressure builds and builds as the week goes on. It is funnelled towards the only outlet, the only vent open to it. That vent is the weekend. It’s the gap in the working calendar, the light at the end of the funnel. We need it to let off steam. We need it to escape, to explode, to be somewhere else before Monday comes round again.

Another reason for this need to blow off steam is the peculiarly British trait of not being able to express our emotions. It’s what makes us more likely to binge drink than people from warmer climes. People from Spain and Italy have crap jobs too but they are less likely to be found dribbling in a gutter on Friday night than your average Brit. Why? Because they live in a culture where it is part of everyday life to express what you are feeling.

Just think of a traffic jam in Rome. Everyone is leaning on their horns. The cacophony is endless and deafening and to a British person totally anathema. “What good is it doing them?” we scoff disdainfully. It’s not getting them anywhere. No it isn’t. But they are letting off steam, venting their emotions, expressing themselves.

Think of the same traffic jam in Britain. Silence. Not a single toot. Meanwhile inside their cars everyone is simmering and frothing like blocked percolators. All emotions are kept nicely tucked away behind the polite smile and the stiff upper lip while inside we churn and nurture ulcers and dream of murder and of getting absolutely wasted at the weekend...

This same pressure cooker is at work all through the week. It feeds off the crap job and no-work-life-balance factors to really build up that head of steam. All day, every day you deal with annoying customers who are also probably venting steam of their own. You would like to tell these people to go and snort arsenic off a railway line but instead you have to smile and be understanding and polite and not express your true feelings. Then your boss is nagging at you over some unfinished work and instead of asking him to step outside while you beat him round the head with the staff kettle, you have to suck it up and keep it all in. You need this job. You need the money. You need that promotion that will allow you to blow off more steam.

You go back to your team and someone makes a snipey comment. Your first urge is to push their wheely chair to the lift shaft and dangle them over the abyss by their tie screaming: “Take it back you ******* ****!” But instead you say nothing because that is the done thing. On your drive home someone cuts you up. Every strained nerve in your body wants to follow them home and kill all their pets but you don’t. Instead you let out a muffled expletive and head home to your dinghy flat where Corrie is waiting for you, and a microwave supper, and a cold can of lager.

Come Friday night you have all this pent up anger and frustration raging inside you, filling you up until you are bulging at the seams. And people wonder why you get off your head? The more cogent question might be, why haven’t you become a mass murderer? Or a football hooligan? Of course, some people do.

The root of our binge drinking culture goes deep and like all roots it is inseparably connected with dozens of others. Those others are a society where work is a means to an end and not an end in itself; where money is raised above quality of life; where ‘grafting’ is good but relaxation is a guilt-edged pastime; where happiness is a possession and not a state of mind; where emotions are awkward and embarrassing and frankly a little bit scary; where it’s easier to slag someone off behind their back than tell them to their face; where it takes five pints to give someone a hug but just one dodgy look to call them a twat; where friends and families grow slowly apart as the years go by instead of discussing their differences; where grudges fester and misunderstandings go unknotted; where life is about looking where we are treading and not where we are going...

Will watching CCTV footage of our drunken antics snap us out of this cycle? I doubt it. Maybe for that we’d need CCTV footage of an entire working week. Maybe if we were forced by some health clinic in Wales to watch 120 hours’ footage of ourselves trudging through a typical Monday to Friday, maybe then we’d realise just how badly most of our time is spent.

Follow Lee on Twitter @leeroy112

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

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...

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