‘the morning after the night before’ Sequence

I’ve always been a big fan of William Crawley and think he is one of the most intelligent and entertaining presenters on the BBC. Tonight, I’ve just seen his documentary on alcohol, Dying for a Drink and he has risen even further in my esteem.

Crawley made an amazing journey in this show, and delved into the very strange relationship we have with alcohol in Northern Ireland. He looked at all sides of the issue: the alcoholics, the abstainers and the ones in the middle who can appreciate alcohol for its taste and qualities without being extreme in any way. Perhaps what made the programme so special was Crawley’s personal journey. Not just his decision to give it up for a month and share the effects, but allowing us the glimpse of his father who was an alcoholic and the effect that had on his life and his up-bringing.

We drink to relax, to socialise, to cope with stress, to wind down, to cheer up, to escape problems, to build self-confidence, to feel more attractive, to lose inhibitions. In other words, we often drink not because we like the taste of it but for the effects. Drink is our national drug of choice, and we are self-medicating to record levels

I guess like many other liberal parents, I never stopped my children from seeing alcohol in the house, and when they were in their teens I encouraged them to drink at home, as opposed to drinking in the Park in a less safe environment. I still think I made the right choice there, but there was enough evidence in this show to demonstrate that this might not always be the right choice and drinking at home may encourage or enable alcoholism in the family

Perhaps the most telling part of the show was Crawley’s attempt at a tee total event at the Black Box in Belfast. He had a 10-piece Soul band with all the tea, coffee and orange juice you could handle. But it never quite took off until the bar opened. This led to the question of what kind of relationship as a society we have with the devils buttermilk, and to be honest it was a ‘sobering’ look at how we interact and seem to see alcohol as a fundamental requirement to enjoyment and fulfillment.

Well done William, and I hope this opens a wider debate on this very difficult issue that leaves so many of us with so many more questions. I am not sure I could ever be as honest, or indeed as tee-totalling, so hats off for a great piece of work.

  • Finn McCool

    Buried 2 friends this year so far both aged 36 due to alcoholism, very bad drug.

  • ParallaxCo

    Yes enjoyed that, good programme, I would have even more difficulty with a month off the booze now than when I tried it a few years ago by accidently going on a residency to a dry health-fascist part of california. But now I have a full bottle in front of me and feel like I’ve had a full frontal lobotomy.

  • Miss Fitz

    Sorry to hear that Finn. It seems that the real tragedy is the growing number of younger people being diagnosed with; and dying of alcohol related illnesses. Not an easy one to answer I’m afraid

  • steve

    miss fitz

    its a slow kind of suicide for some of us but as we have nothing else its a hard dummy to throw out of the pram

    Life sucks but I will never quit because that means it wins

  • ggn

    I think Crawley is a great presenter and a nice down to earth guy too. He seems to smile quite often which is something I have alot of respect for.

  • Rory

    Well done for introducing this painful, compelling problem, Miss Fitz. I am rushing out at the moment but would leave readers of this thread with this link to what I consider to be the most powerful account of the ravages of alcoholism on the human psyche which yet gives us an insight into the seductive and healing (yes, healiong) powers of that beverage – The Grass Arena by John Healey which is now reprinted as a modern classic. I thoroughly recommend if only as a great piece of literature.

    http://www.thegrassarena.net/thegrassarena/introduction.html

  • A fascinating programme, Miss Fitz, but a rather disturbing finale where the gleeful look in William’s eye indicating that he really was dying for a drink.

    Young people who took part in our concerts et al in Corrymeela and elsewhere had often given up an evening at a local night spot because they had far greater crack with us. Alcohol isn’t the only stimulant …

  • Hogan

    I’ve alot of respect for William Crawley. It did not escape my notice that he had two programmes on tv within half an hour of each other, BBC1 & BBC2! If it did not escape my notice then it will not have escaped the notice of the notoriously bitchy second rate also-ran presenters that occasionally fill our tv screens up with trash when the local beeb have any of our spare license fee sloshing about.

    You all know who you are!

  • When he tried to coerce people in to jazz event i was shocked at the inability of people to socialise without alcohol. (I have never taken alcohol in 30 years btw..)

    I understand their reason for ‘going out’ in the first place was to drink and therefor the dry event wasn’t cutting it – but what does it say when ‘to drink’ is the primary reason and socialising is nudged to second place – one can’t exist without the other?

    How much is spent on the average weekend on alcohol and is the ‘crunch’ having an effect on bar takings? I would imagine people are consuming less alcohol today than say this time last year – surely?

  • earnan

    In times of economic hardship the vice industries (drugs, drink, gambling, prostitutes) actually do better business. It’s a well known fact.

  • speller

    I agree with Miss Fitz. A really special documentary. I also heard Crawley doing talk back this week, so he’s been busy. Superb broadcaster on both radio and TV. I don’t think there’s much doubt that he’s now the most accomplished local broadcaster. I found myself asking myself questions about my life and my own father, which is not a reaction often prompted by TV, not in my experience anyway.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “I think Crawley is a great presenter and a nice down to earth guy too. He seems to smile quite often which is something I have alot of respect for.”

    I sincerely hope – for your sake – that you are his mum.

  • LURIG

    Difficult programme to watch because many of us see ourselves in it. “I don’t have a drink problem” most of us always say but the fact is a lot of us do, we are just in denial. I always thought I didn’t drink to excess but this programme told me different. Just because you are not sitting on a park bench quaffing meths doesn’t give you a clean slate. The fact is that alcohol is an escape and release in a world with many pressures. At the minute the off licences are booming and that says it all. People want to forget about extortionate mortgage repayments, fuel charges, food prices, job losses, worry, stress, etc. It gives you that short term lift when all you can see around is doom and gloom; that doesn’t make it right but it is fact all the same.William Crawley was making a personal journey but a lot of the programme wasn’t rocket science. It’s the way it’s always been and the way it always will. However I must also agree that William Crawley is an excellent presenter. His Radio Ulster programme on a Sunday morning is very good as he knows his subject whatever he is talking about.

  • Ronan

    Hey, Just wanted to add my voice. I worked with William on this documentary before moving abroad and wanted to tell you that the feedback elsewhere and in the press has been huge and the viewing figures even higher. So thanks for the positive feedback. And yes, Mr. Crawley is a pleasure to work with.