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When it comes to mature enjoyment of alcohol, we've some way to go

In a week when one could only sit back and gasp in awe at the sheer stupidity and monumental egotism of Madonna, who likened the leaking of 13 unfinished demos from her forthcoming album as "a form of terrorism" and "artistic rape", there were one or two other items which caught the attention.

It being Christmas week, the subject of drink wasn't too far off the agenda in the media. The whole Twelve Pubs of Christmas nonsense is now over, thankfully, but the debate about ridiculous drinking isn't going to go away any time soon.

Earlier this year we had gobshites across the globe taking part in the idiotic "neknominations" fad, which some thought was great fun until a few people wound up dead from drinking bottles of spirits in one go.

sloppy

Move a few months along and we have gangs roaming Dublin city centre speed-drinking while wearing stupid jumpers, consuming at a rate that one medical expert reckoned would cause the equivalent shock to the system of a heroin overdose. We just don't learn, do we?

And there's still the horror of the New Year part-timers to come. Really, you'd need to be off your meds to stay out anywhere near town after 8pm on New Year's Eve, such is the proliferation of sloppy drunks on the streets.

One publican in Britain found himself in a wee spot of bother last week for basically telling festive drinkers they weren't welcome in his establishment because they're messy and don't have even basic pub etiquette.

Among his extremely sound pieces of advice for the holly-and-ivy mob was a tip not to start drinking at 4pm if you're an amateur as "this is why you're puking and crying before 9pm".

Another remarkably sane suggestion was for people not to approach the bar until they actually know what they want.

I don't know about you, but I've almost gone ballistic in the past couple of weeks with people getting to the barman ahead of me and then shouting back to a crowd of people asking them what they want.

Oh, and good-looking women get served first - welcome to western civilisation.

On a far more serious note, I was genuinely chilled to the marrow when a pal told me what he witnessed last Saturday morning. The previous night he'd seen a chap stumble, blind drunk, outside a pub and be carted off in an ambulance. Come 10am the next morning, said individual - still wearing the same clothes and clearly the worse for wear - emerged from a garage shop with a bottle of wine, got into his car with a heavily pregnant woman in the passenger seat, proceeded to down the bottle in two or three gulps and promptly drove off.

My friend, being an extremely solid citizen, took a photo of the car and registration plate and contacted the gardai, who thanked him and said they'd "keep an eye out for him".

stupid

Now, here we have a person who's clearly not in full possession of his faculties behind the wheel of a car at a time when people are out and about in the run-up to Christmas . . . a genuine threat to life and limb.

As far as can be ascertained, no one came to any harm as a result of this recklessly stupid behaviour, thank God, but had this merchant ploughed into an unfortunate pedestrian or fellow motorist there would still be people willing to give him the benefit of the doubt due to the fact that he had "a problem".

Sorry, but to quote the Sex Pistols, the problem is you. We've all done stupid things, but anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car when they're off their head deserves no sympathy whatsoever - at this or any other time of the year.


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