in a moment of lucid mollification earlier, an event which occurred in the twenty minute fight for warmth twixt waking and rising, I realised that I have been labouring under a delusion, or had fallen into the comfortable armchair of a pub conversation trap. Not subject to any malice you understand, but I had started agreeing with the claim that the worst people to find in a pub at Christmas and New Year are the much vaunted "once a year drinkers".
Firstly, the time of year I am thinking about this phenomena occurring is between Mad Friday and New Year's Eve. The three worst days in that period are Mad Friday, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve. Straight away therefore, the phrase "once a year drinkers" seems awry. Unless these fearful of bowze roustabouts congregate in such mass that there are sufficient in their group to individually affront us on each of the above three days?
I spoke in my last post about the unpleasant nature and behavior of large groups of imbibers near Christmas, or in what am now going to called the new year era, or new yeara. The unpleasantness unleashed mainly on bar staff but often other customers (who may or may not be reguluzz) is widely thought to stem from once a year or novice drinkers.
Now I know a fairly large number of folks from different backgrounds, and with different levels of supping experience. I can only think of one who maybe only goes out in the New Yeara. They might fall foul of over indulgence, and perhaps also bail early upon that realisation, but the deplorable characteristics displayed in this period are not theirs.
When I was 19, so had been drinking regularly for two years (this is a fact, but not a boast I should point out) I used to go on a lengthy pub crawl on Christmas and new Years eve with my regular drinking buddies. Did we get drunk? Yes. Was this because it was Christmas or New Year? Yes. We saw it as our duty to consume an insensible amount of alcohol because of religious doctrine and public holidays. We often screang (screamed and sang that is) loudly, although mostly in tune, in pubs and on streets (sorry if you lived in Crookes in the nineties and heard someone screaming Nirvana songs in the early hours, that was me....). We talked loudly, staggered and swayed, and made unprovable claims of our abilities in numerous areas of life, including insobriety. That was, however, the limit of our trespass.
I know time makes ones memories rosier, but I don't remember us ever getting into a fight, only once being asked to leave, and never being abusive to staff. Well, there was one time in the Springfield, but that was our regular spot and this in no way mitigates our behaviour, but there were ongoing issues. What am saying is, the New Yeara made us drink differently, but we were no booze babies, we had already become insufferably thirsty folk by this point, and crucially, the excess of New Yeara alcohol didn't turn us into aggressive, confrontational, twats.
I heard that prior to this Christmas a person I wrote a song about had been physically assaulted behind the bar. Having seen friends in the industry withstand absolutely unjustifiable amounts of personal abuse from revellers enjoying the immoral freedoms they wrongly assume they are entitled to, its a mark of respect to all that they haven't lamped a number of exceptionally rude customers. The thing is, to behave in such a reprehensible manner requires practice. Therefore, the mumblous miscreants I loathe are far from once a year slakers. They are, instead, regular drinkers but also, full time aggressive simpletons.
I think once a year drinkers, should they exist, should in fact be encouraged to come out, and find out what parts of our lives they are missing. I think more importantly than that, seasoned drinkers need to remember that whilst their drinking habits can change in the New Yeara, their behaviour should comprise respect, and forethought of speech. Its one of the things I absolutely don't miss about working behind a bar, and every year swathes of rude and abusive drinkers remind me of that fact.
Here's to a new year, and a new era of calmer, less rude drinkers.