Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink: Middle-Class Brits Are Fast Developing a Californian Terror of Booze

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink: Middle-Class Brits Are Fast Developing a Californian Terror of Booze

Article excerpt

It is a bit ironic that the introduction of 24-hour drinking in this country coincides with the emergence, in certain quarters, of a West Coast attitude to alcohol. I'm not talking about a penchant for sweet black and tans (very popular in Argyllshire), but the Californian terror of booze. Brits have been dining out for years on stories about uptight Americans being scandalised by the ordering of alcohol at lunch. There's a whole genre of anecdotes involving nip-tucked, cocaine-abusing media types daring to suggest their clean-living English equivalents might want to seek professional help because they automatically open a bottle of wine with dinner. Moreover, for every Gary Oldman who joins AA, there are ten Hollywood types enrolled on the programme because they've been drunk more than twice since graduation and think that's sufficient to constitute a "problem".

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Five years ago all this was another world--the same world in which you were asked to go out on to the balcony if you wanted a cigarette (at a party!) and where the women got Botox and breast surgery as a matter of course. It all seemed wholly removed from the way we lived our lives. But not any more. First we got the cigarette fever, and now the fear of drink is upon us, affecting the way we think. I'm not talking about the girls photographed with their heads between their knees, or the boys who buy each other heart-stopping combinations of shorts for their 18th birthdays. …

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