Simon Calder: The world has learnt to expect British louts

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The Independent Online

The Brits get hammered abroad – but for once, it's the police who are coming down hard, and alcohol is only indirectly responsible.

You can dig as deep as you wish for the causes of Britain's reputation for debauchery abroad. The slow decay of the nuclear family, perhaps, or the social acceptability of drinking oneself into a stupor on a Saturday night. Or you could visit the Club 18-30 website, reflecting life for the most robust "young, free and single" tour operator in the business.

Even though the Club 18-30 brand is approaching 40, the sex, drink and rock'n'roll theme prevails. One Club 18-30 rep boasts: "I once emptied the fridge in the apartment, climbed inside and waited for the other reps to come home and open the fridge. I'll never forget their faces."

Hmmm. If that is the staff's attitude to risk, imagine how seriously the punters take Foreign Office warnings such as "be aware that your travel insurance may not cover you if you have an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol".

The effects of the "British disease" are disturbing. Even as far away as Ecuador our reputation goes before us: "A pint and a fight – a great British night" reads the slogan that is, er, plastered on the side of an expatriate bar.

When Thomas Cook organised a temperance outing in 1841, he had the loftiest of motives. But the company that bears his name is now the proud owner of Club 18-30.