Are we a nation of drunks?
Or is it that we just know how to have a relaxed good time and always have?
Today the UK’s Daily Mail had a dig at our expense featuring pictures of shoeless and sozzled race goers at the Melbourne Cup.
‘Punters’ at The Melbourne Cup at Flemington. All images by AAP via The Daily Mail.
“And you thought Ascot was going to the dogs! Things get a little messy at Aussies’ big day out at the Melbourne Cup”, said the Daily Mail.
“Down by the course, men and women were flaked out on the grass after a boozy day, girls drank straight from champagne bottles – one even staged an impromptu pole dance – while the detritus from the day built up shamefully around them.”
British readers piled on to condemn our bad behaviour and Aussies were in the fray too, quite rightly pointing out that it was all a bit: Pot. Meet. Kettle.
Anyone who’s been in central London on a Friday night and battled the crowds of bladdered “Hooray Henrys” who pour out into the streets from every pub will attest to that.
Ever been on a train in Scotland and been caught in between rival football club supporters? Hundreds of lager louts right in your face? I have and I never want to repeat the experience.
Of course the tit-for-tat insults are all rather unedifying , but it does lead us back to the question – can Australians ever get together and celebrate without sinking mind-bending quantities of alcohol?
The Melbourne Cup, Australia Day, New Year’s Eve… even Christmas are all excuses to get on the turps.
I’ve long lamented that we don’t have a national day like America’s Thanksgiving when we can look a little deeper and count our considerable blessings. That’s what Australia Day is supposed to be for, but that ship, captained by Arthur Phillip, has long since sailed. The day has been hijacked by jingoistic sentiment – and beer and wine aplenty.
Let’s all sing: “Australia’s girt by grog“.
In August this year, former Senator Steve Fielding wrote in The Punch an article headlined “Our Drunk Nation.”
“Now I’m no wowser,” he wrote.
“I drink and most Australians drink, but something needs to be done to stop the $16bn a year in taxpayers’ money from being wasted on cleaning up after drunks. That’s not to mention the 40 percent of police work which is related to the excessive consumption of alcohol.”
His article was met with some derision by readers.
“Why don’t you move to Iran?” said Lord Grognard (!).
“How about Pollies stop trying to shape some kind of idealic Utopian society! Why can’t we just live with the fact that some people will drink too much? Why is it so hard to take? Why must we hyper-analyse every single every little flaw in our society? People get drunk. Get over it,” wrote BMJ.
Others grappled with what seems to be a hopless cause – getting our fellow country men and women to step away from the bar.
So, are you concerned about our alcohol intake?
And, if so, what’s to be done about it?
Or, should we relax, knowing that we are a nation that leads the world in knowing how to enjoy ourselves?