They tell us we are ‘pissed’ but the truth is that we are just ‘pissed off’. Getting smashed is attractive because life is routinely crap. We aren’t even that drunk anyway. According to The Institute of Alcohol Studies, consumption in the UK is below the EU average(1). That’s incredible given the rabid thrashing we get from our Government(2). Cut through the political froth and we find a poisonous pool of statistics that suggest boozing it up is a symptom, not a disease. The UK reportedly has the worst quality of life in Europe, with few hours of sunshine, a high retirement age and fewer days holiday. No wonder we cram down the cans as fast as we can whenever we can – also a legacy of our historically uncivilised drinking hours laws(3). We ranked 28th out of 187 on the world’s happiest countries index, despite having the world’s 7th largest economy, the mother of parliaments and a history of obscene accumulation of wealth from feudal exploitation, the industrial revolution and colonial pillage (4). We ranked 24th out of 29 countries in a European child wellbeing league.
Can we blame the poor miserable blighters for getting trashed?(5). The State of The Nation study by the National Literacy Trust showed that a third of British adults do not believe the ability to read, write and communicate is a fundamental for a healthy modern society. So much for the knowledge economy in the communication age(6).
More than half the British people, 52% of us, spend a combined total of 43 million hours per day gaming, according to Newzoo. Add satellite TV, web-surfing, Twittering and Facebooking – we are amusing ourselves to death – RIP Neil Postman(7). The evidence suggests we’re not bums, but what we’re being sold is a bummer, lies and hypocrisy. We want to be part of a club, the rich club sold to us through the media as the only way to justify existence. But we can only join it sometimes. Few can really afford to splash out – unless they’ve just accepted a whopping great bank bonus. And the ease with which alcohol can be purchased doesn’t exactly reflect the Government’s concerns. The hypocrisy of a tax system as the rationale for government is truly obscene. They are picking our pockets then kicking us lying in the gutter for consuming a product that pays for their existence. In games world, TV stupor and particularly after a few promotional-price bevvies, people’s troubles disappear. In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful(8).
So they can piss off- the authorities, the great and the good and the worthy. They think their lives are beautiful – truth is they are probably as ugly as the rest of us. They want us all to fall into the unquestioning, terrified herd identified by Bush in his accidentally truthful misquotation of words usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln. “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on”(9). But you and I know better.
The chief executive of RBS has launched a robust defence of the £800m bonus pool paid out by the taxpayer-backed bank despite £2bn of losses(10). The Government claims that 2.68 million people are unemployed – the true total of those who cannot get full-time work is 4.5 million(11). And to top it all off, there’s also going to be a drought(12)
Let them drink beer.
At least until ordinary life, like good water, tastes sweet.
1. The Institute of Alcohol Studies: ‘Alcohol consumption and harm in the UK and EU’
2. David Cameron hints at minimum alcohol price – PM determined to deal with ‘one of the scandals of our society’ – The Guardian, 12/2/12
3.UK has ‘worst quality of life in Europe’ – The Guardian, 29/9/11 http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/sep/29/uk-worst-quality-of-life-europe
4.World’s happiest countries: 1 to 187 – cnngo.com, 4/9/11 http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/life/united-nations-announces-world%E2%80%99s-happiest-country-247768
5.Child wellbeing league – The Guardian, 21/4/09 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/apr/21/children-poverty-wellbeing-cpag-europe
6. National Literacy Trust: ‘Literacy: State of the Nation; A picture of literacy in the UK today http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0000/3816/FINAL_Literacy_State_of_the_Nation_-_30_March_2010.pdf
8. MC in the movie Cabaret
10.http://news.sky.com/home/business/article/16175815 23/2/12 11. The Independent, p. 20, 12/2/12 12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15995363 1/12/11
11. The Independent, p. 20, 12/2/12
12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15995363 1/12/11Tags: Domestic (UK)
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This post was written by MC