The more I think about so-called binge drinking, the more I think it is a result of the Northern European attitude to work — the weekend feels like the only time people can really relax, after slogging through five or six days of boredom, stress and aggravation, and they want it to be something special, memorable and overwhelming.
It’s not a new thing. In the 1958 social realist novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe described a Saturday night in Britain like this:
For it was Saturday night, the best and bingiest glad-time of the week, one of the fifty-two holidays in the slow-turning Big Wheel of the year, a violent preamble to a prostrate Sabbath. Piled up passions were exploded on Saturday night, and the effect of a week’s monotonous graft in the factory was swilled out of your system in a burst of goodwill. You followed the motto of ‘be drunk and be happy’, kept your crafty arms around female waists, and felt the beer going beneficially down into the elastic capacity of your guts.
People always talk about the sensible Spanish and French attitude to drinking, but could it have anything to do with the traditional long lunch breaks and 35 hour working weeks in those countries?
Binge drinking is not the problem — it’s a symptom.