© Annie Harrison. Extracted from The Oddball English.
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor… England has a long and distinguished history of heavy drinking. Although we didn’t invent binge drinking, in recent years we’ve proudly drunk the rest of Western Europe under the table (with perhaps the exception of the Scots). Thousands of inebriated, falling down and incapable youngsters have littered the country’s police stations, town centres and emergency rooms on Friday and Saturday nights. Taxes on alcohol and tighter restrictions on drinking establishments are attempting to curb English youths’ ability to knock back the banana daiquiris and Blue Meanies, but haven’t yet dented their enthusiasm. In fact, helping to expedite antisocial behaviour and the liver sclerosis process in Britain’s young people is a group of Benedictine monks cloistered away in the West Country. Buckfast Tonic Wine is a caffeine-filled fortified tipple brewed by the fathers at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. BBC and newspaper investigations and clashes with government ministers have failed to stop the monks going about their holy work helping in their mission to perpetuate youth debauchery. And it’s easy to spot the English on holiday if you happen to be in classy hotspots like Ayia Napa in Cyprus or Magaluf in Mallorca, where booze is plentiful and cheap. They’ll be the ones with a bad dose of sunburn, passed out on the street, wearing their knickers the wrong way round. Finally, to qualify as a binge drinker, according to the National Health Service, you need to drink the alcoholic equivalent of four pints of beer in succession if you’re a man, and three if you’re a woman. Not really that much, then. Most of us are therefore social binge drinkers or even solitary binge drinkers on the rampage in our own homes. WATCH THIS: BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz samples the monks’ elixir.