04 September 2008

Brit Boozing

Letter to Athens News.

"A symptom of British depression

I THINK there's a deeper problem in this [in reference to British citizens' alcohol-fuelled nights in Malia, Crete, as described in Sex on the beach, published on August 22], not least because the English have been getting plastered and misbehaving for centuries, millennia, even. The only difference is that in the era of mass tourism we've started exporting it abroad. I think it speaks to a general unhappiness in a culture built around the denial of pleasure, whereas the Greeks, like the Spanish (I lived in Andalucia, Spain, for the last eight years before moving to Greece this past spring), live in a culture of the celebration of pleasure, which is why they don't get off their faces every night due to depression, desperation or boredom, and usually prefer an iced coffee. It's an entirely different mindset to the one that sends Brits abroad to get wrecked.

I think we also have to factor in the complicity of travel companies - the BBC Radio 4 show "You and Yours" featured a recording of a holiday representative offering people alcohol at breakfast time - and also the bar owners themselves, who, as has been recently reported, sometimes resort to flogging toxic industrial alcohol as "vodka" to make more money. Hence, the appalling story of the young guy who literally drank himself to death on Crete recently. If bar staff told people they weren't going to serve them because they were obviously drunk already, maybe some of this misbehaviour wouldn't happen. There's also a class subtext at work here, and I think it's a little more complex than oiks running wild on the islands. If you've ever been to Gaucνn, in Andalucia, you will probably have seen the British upper classes behaving just as badly."`

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