Every weekend, Britain's town centres are transformed into scenes of drunken mayhem and soaring levels of violence .
Britain keeps going out on the piss. Tony Blair has labelled binge drinking - generally defined as necking twice the recommended daily number of units, four for men, three for women - as 'a new British disease'.
The comparisons between England and the continent,
How did we get like this? Why is Britain the binge-drinking champion of Europe? Other nations, the French and the Italians for example, drink more than us but it's spread out across the week. The Scandinavians are famous for their bingeing , but they do it less regularly than us. Only the British get furiously intoxicated every week.
The Licensing Act 2003 has been portrayed in the media as paving the way for a 24-hour drinking culture. It won't, but it will result in change. Instead of there being set drinking times, local authorities will now be able to decide for themselves when pubs and bars can close. They could insist that they stick on 11pm - or let them go through to the small hours. It was hoped that by removing the 11pm chuck-out, we would all suddenly become relaxed southern Europeans. Out would go the desperation of last orders. The streets would not throng with beered-up boys looking for a punch up, but instead with gently tipsy young men holding clutch bags and giving their ladies roses. Or something like that.
But it is a pretty long article.