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More pride in drinking than sport

PUBLISHED: 11:07 09 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:20 05 July 2010

THREE women, well dressed, educated and in their mid-thirties, were planning a night out as they grabbed lunch together.

All working mums, bemoaning their work-school-home whirlwind of lives, had a united aim on their night on the town - as they described it, uncharacteristically coarsely, to get "off their faces" and totally out of it on booze.

THREE women, well dressed, educated and in their mid-thirties, were planning a night out as they grabbed lunch together.

All working mums, bemoaning their work-school-home whirlwind of lives, had a united aim on their night on the town - as they described it, uncharacteristically coarsely, to get “off their faces” and totally out of it on booze.

To escape their humdrum domestic lives into the oblivion of vodka-overload and have a “good night”.

These women aren't rare. They're part of growing army of women drinkers - binge, habitual or regular heavy - typified and glorified by ITV's Loose Women presenter Carol McGiffin.

McGiffin, in her late forties, regales viewers and fellow panelists with her tales of hard drinking, flashing her knickers and drunken escapades. She thinks it's funny. Especially if she managed to “snog” a stranger. The woman's nearly 50, for heaven's sake.

But drinking themselves into stupor is la mode for women - whether they're 15 pretending to be 18 or 50 pretending to be 30.

A bizarre dichotomy. Desperate to appear sophisticated, glossy and powerful yet gorging themselves daft on booze to look stupid and sleazy and wake up with stinking hangovers with sick in their hair. Very chic.

Or worse still, waking up next to a stranger.

This obsession with getting drunk is like alcohol was a new discovery. Falling into the gutter incapable and throwing up in public is the latest laugh, however old you are.

When did this shift happen? From disdain for “sad old drunks” - the man who smelt of urine staggering round burbling no sense - to doing exactly the same in glad rags and high heels.

Arrests of women for being drunk and disorderly soared by up to 1,100pc in parts of the UK and the number of women convicted of drink driving has almost doubled in the past two decades.

Lowestoft town centre and Oulton Broad on a Friday and Saturday is much like every other town and city - swaying shrieking women of all ages falling into the road “having a good time” because they're drunk.

“We were so out of it,” they boast at work the next day, parading hangovers as badges of honour, joking about liver damage.

Women's mentality of sober=boring, drunk=fun meant few were shocked to hear of mother Antoinette McGuckin being so drunk with her comatose husband Eamon on the first night of their Algarve holiday that their three children aged between one and six were taken into care for a night.

Come on, people said. They were on holiday. Having fun. Unwinding. The authorities had over-reacted when the mother passed out and then threw up and the father collapsed asleep in the hotel foyer.

No one - no one British that is - bats an eyelid at a middle-class professional couple from a £450,000 home who got so disgracefully drunk they were incapable of looking after their children. Should we really be surprised when getting incapable through booze is more respected than any national sport?

Our attitude to alcohol and its effects in Britain is sick beyond belief. But not as sick as those “having a laugh” today could be in a couple of decades time.

POLITICS is finally starting to get interesting again after years of dull-as-dishwater same old, same old.

Boris Johnson as London mayor is as staggering as the prospect of David Cameron one day becoming Prime Minister. Will we wake up and it's all been a terrible dream?

Interesting though how both Johnson and Cameron are old Etonians from monied families. What happened to self-made Britain? A classless meritocracy?

Or is it that we really do believe there are the born-to-rule classes and we're happy to defer to them - heaven help us - because they're the traditional ruling elite. Have we come nowhere in the last 100 years?

But local elections always wheel out those silly protest voters who believe they'll be firing a warning shot against the government's bows by putting their little cross beside a rival.

Full of smug self-importance, they feel they've told Gordon Brown exactly what they think of him. Pity they can't see beyond the end of their noses.

What they forget is that they're voting in local elections and often push in alternative administrations into their town, borough, district and county councils that affect them directly with their council tax and running of local services.

Many, I know, are laughing on the other sides of their faces now when they wake up to realise exactly what they've brought about by a protest anti-Brown vote.

MUCH of the huffing against Gordon Brown is purely about image. He's not slick, polished, oozing sound bites and posturing and preening like Tony Blair.

He doesn't dazzle in front of a camera or cut a dash.

Like everything else, politics has been taken over by looks. Substance, sincerity, capability, steadfastness and loyalty count for nothing if the packaging ain't right.

But we should know by now, nothing is ever as it seems and looks are only skin deep.

HALLELUJAH! I'm praying that the proposed new law banning parents from teaching their children to drive takes effect in the next seven years. Then I'll be off the hook.

I can't think of anything worse than teaching my sons to drive. I can't teach older son to spell a word without him throwing an almighty strop and accusing me of thinking he's “thick.”

We wouldn't last five minutes cooped up in a saloon.

I know parents driven to the verge of a nervous breakdown by taking their children out on driving lessons on the cheap, almost coming to blows over a three-point turn. One mother described the week-long hell in their house started by a “look” by her husband during her daughter's reverse manoeuvre.

The government wants to cut deaths on the roads by insisting a government-approved instructor teaches every new driver.

It'll do wonders for family relations too.

TEENAGERS have always congregated at Oulton Broad's Nicholas Everitt Park.

My formative years were spent peddling there on my Raleigh whiling away summer nights in the park, in the shelters and meeting foreign students on the swings.

I'd hang around there later than I was allowed and fib to my mother that my Timex watch had stopped and I'd lost track of time.

Thursday night speedboats were the week's highlight - not so much for the water action but for people we might meet from other schools.

Teenage kisses were swapped under the trees and in the shelters as early romances were forged. The open-air pool with the diving boards was the place to hang out in the summer and diving or jumping off the top board the pinnacle of bravado.

But never, ever did I feel threatened; witness any vandalism more serious than carving initials in love hearts on a tree trunk, violence or damage of any kind.

I was recounting memories of these days and nights to my boys the other day - they made sick noises at the idea of mum kissing boys in public. Happy days.

Then I read that the park was a centre for anti-social behaviour.

People on neighbouring houses and businesses have complained about nuisance, under-age drinking and vandalism to the café.

Times really have changed. We were scared stiff of the “parkie”, would never have dreamed of damaging anyone else's property or disturbing a resident. Our parents would have killed us.

As Jane Smith, part owner of the Park Café, said the teenagers using the park today have no respect - or they know their parents won't be bothered.

SO many dads can't even make the effort to be a father to their children while others are depressed they don't measure up to Superdad David Beckham.

Some dads disappear out of their children's lives for months at a time with the lame line “I'm leaving your mum, not you.”

Others feel a failure if they don't match up to the work, fitness and success of celebrity dads like David Beckham.

A survey of 4,000 fathers by Netmums.com found that a third were unsure of whether they would stay with their partner because pressure to measure up to dads like Beckham left them questioning their relationship.

And 40pc said they had suffered from a male version of post-natal depression - these men have obviously got too much time on their hands.

What's so bad about being plain old dad? The man who adores his children, works hard for them, spends time with them, gets to know who they really are and fights tooth and nail for the best for them. That's all a child wants and needs from a dad - love and time.

PETE Burns, of extensive facial surgery fame, alleges gay marriages can't work because men are too predatory and the gay community promiscuous.

His civil partnership lasted less than a year compared to his previous 28-year marriage to ex-wife Lynne.

“I think two men naturally are predators,” he said, accusing his ex-partner of infidelity.

No, darling. It's just that women are far more forgiving.

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