Maybe January would be better spent having an honest conversation about how we got to a place we seem to want to escape…

drinks, alcohol, cocktails

“Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only disease you can get yelled at for having.” Mitch Hedberg 2022 is the tenth year of the official Dry January campaign. Last year, 130,000 people signed up with Alcohol Change UK, who provide a choice of daily coaching emails or a steady stream of encouragement via their phone app, all aimed at helping people get through the longest month of the year without assistance from drink. This 2021 figure was up 30% …

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Back to the pub…

bar, local, ireland

For the first time in months, I went to a bar on Friday night. As I have written before, I have more or less stopped drinking as I could not stand the hangovers any longer. But I was curious to try the new Guinness 0.0 so off we went to the Errigle on the Ormeau Road. As I was going to try the non-alcoholic beer I was able to drive. As we have discussed, getting a taxi these days is …

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The bleak sight of back to the booze…

We went out for an early dinner on the Dublin Road in Belfast last night. Turning into Ventry Street, a young guy staggered down the middle of the street, clutching his empty 2-litre bottle of cheap cider. Completely oblivious to cars or people, he was impressively drunk for 5 pm in the day. We got a table by the window, which gave us a good vantage point to watch the various goings-on. Young guys carrying cases of Budweiser, drunk women …

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In praise of slightly boring, family-friendly seaside towns…

Years ago we were on holiday in New Jersey. At the time I was a fan of the HBO show Boardwalk Empire. If you are not familiar with the show, it is set in the world of gangsters during prohibition in the 1920s. Most of the action takes place in Atlantic City, which is a traditional American seaside resort that was a popular destination for visitors from New York. I was looking forward to paying a visit to Atlantic City. …

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Addiction in a time of crisis…

Mental health is suffering as we remain in lockdown. Those with poor mental health coupled with an alcohol/drug addiction seem to have worsened over recent weeks manifest in more and more bizarre and risky behaviours and an increased need for; antidepressants, anti-psychotics and anxiolytics. It’s time to rethink how we deal with addiction associated with poor mental health because we might not be getting it right. Addiction NI, the local charity that does what it says on the tin, last …

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The case for giving up this booze and trying Sober October…

I had a good Saturday night out the other week. A few games of pool, then into another bar where I got chatting with some Hispanic tourists from LA about the nature of second-generation immigrant identity. A good time was had by all and I Glided home to my bed. The problem came six hours later when I was awakened by my son at 6am. Since becoming a dad I have found hangovers and kids don’t mix – I no …

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The Teetotallers Guide to the Need for More Pubs…

Bar pub

It’s odd to think that teetotallers and pub crawlers could have similar objectives but I wish to illustrate that they have similar goals if we consider the drinks trade more holistically rather than narrowly. First of all allow me to say that I understand fine and well the various reasons for being teetotal and I’d even say they are correct, many of us would be better off financially and physically if we abstained from the Devil’s buttermilk. However, reality must …

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Our licensing laws need to be more flexible to allow smaller premises to compete…

Bar pub

Recently I stumbled across a liquor license for sale in the Coleraine area. It costs £80 000. Yes. £80 000. Good for the person selling it but what is the bigger picture and how does this affect our pub tradition? First of all, what size of premises would be required to have the turnover to pay off the £80k loan for such a licence? I’m sure many of us have entertained the notion of semi-retiring to a country pub someday …

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Dealing with alcohol – how the ambulance service picks up the pieces…

We get the inside track from a serving paramedic… Given that we are now over the festive season but still very much in the grip of the annual winter pressures it was interesting to read the article by the Chief Executive of NHS England regarding drunk tanks (officially Alcohol Intoxication Management Services, Safe Havens or Alcohol Treatment Centres), as well as the associated social media reaction. Winter is traditionally a time when we see an increase in ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions …

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ITV has gone to pot…

Imagine a producer at Al Jazeera, the Qatari TV channel, pitching a program idea to his managers which goes something like this.   We select a group of overweight elderly Doha Residents, people with a certain celebrity in our beloved Kingdom – we want the audience to like them but they need to be men of the people – and we take them off to Britain where we take them on a road trip around; public houses, distilleries, micro-breweries and vineyards …

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Parents dropping their underage kids off to go drinking in the park…

Over the past few years, there has been a major issue with underage kids drinking in the Falls Park and City Cemetary. At weekends hundreds of children gather to drink, take drugs and do all the usual things that teenagers do. The problem is especially severe in the summer. Underage drinking is not exactly new, but the main issue is the massive vandalism that is going on. Thousands of pounds worth of damage is being caused to the children’s play park. …

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Time to reduce our highly restrictive an anticompetitive licensing laws…

alcohol drinks pub bar

I thought this was worth a mention for Tim Martin from JD Wetherspoon highlighting the crippling cost of drinks licences in the region. He said: “You have to pay an astronomical amount for a drinks licence here, whereas in Dublin and London they have removed most of the restrictions and you get a quicker response to changing trends in the industry. In London and Dublin at the moment there’s a lot of craft beer bars set up by small entrepreneurs, …

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Alcohol Pricing…on the up and up

Taken at face value, I completely agree with Jim Wells. Taken at face value, I completely agree with Jim Wells…sorry, I had to write that again to make sure it wasn’t an autocorrect. Minimum pricing for alcohol is a sensible idea, I have long agreed that the off-sales industry with specific reference to supermarkets are the root of the problems faced in society by alcohol. Unfortunately, minimum pricing is against the law. When a bad news story such as Joby …

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Governing alcohol consumption: Who are the winners?

“Excuse me mate, the only reason you could possibly want to go into this club is to get drunk as a skunk, so get back in the car.” A Belfast taxi man has confidently told me that people in his profession are the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to what’s happening on our streets. Robert said that when he took passengers from Lavery’s bar in Belfast to a nightclub at 00.45 on May 26th; the PSNI were waiting …

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Scottish Labour: “Minimum unit pricing was rightly rejected by MSPs because it is effectively a tax on the poor”

The UK’s coalition government has announced proposals to introduce minimum unit pricing on alcohol sold in England and Wales.  But with it being a devolved matter, Northern Ireland doesn’t have to follow. Nevertheless, the NI Social Development Minister and the Health Minister have joined forces to announce their intention to launch a public consultation on the issue.  Although there is already a wrinkle evident “I am meeting the Irish Minister for Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern in Dublin in the …

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