Field tents for the stragglers

YOU’RE 21 years old. You’ve drunk so much whiskey on New Year’s Eve that you are unlikely to even make midnight with your eyes open. You’ve a bucket over your head. And because you are so intoxicated with booze you’ve been taken away from the party of the year to be treated by medics in a special field hospital in the centre of Cambridge… what would you do?

Instead of going home quietly with his sick bag, Kris Dillon decided – presumably in a haze of bourbon – to talk to his local newspaper, the Cambridge (Evening) News.

Here’s what he had to say. Beware, he uses the word ‘carnage’..

“The whole night has been carnage and I have drunk far too much.

My mother and father are going to go mad. I was having a brilliant night and then I realised I couldn’t stand up and my mates left me down the side of the street somewhere.

All my mates were buying me drinks, I can’t even remember how many. I ended up with my head in a bucket. I feel like a complete idiot.”

Those blasted mates of his. First, they buy him so drinks he falls over. Then they leave him collapsed in an alley. Top pals. And presumably not only did Ma and Pa have to deal with their son walking around with a hangover from hell come New Year’s Day, but they also had to read all about it in the local paper.

Aside from whether it’s ethical or exploitative for its journalists to interview the New Year’s Eve stragglers when their heads are still throbbing with booze, the Cambridge News is a great example of a regional newspaper, good ideas, good layout, good website, all those things. Reporters and photographers were out on New Year’s Eve – when a lot of locals are shut up for the week – gathering a story which warrants more attention. Field hospitals run by the Territorial Army for the walking inebriated, after all, is a pretty extreme response to binge guzzling.

It makes you wonder whether Camden or areas in central London, which have their fair share of dizzy-faced Tequilla slurpers come big party nights, might  one day end up with field hospitals of their own. It’s one up from the standby ambulance that was sent to NW1 last year to scoop up party people who had downed too many cherry brandies.

Of course, it sends out the wrong message as to the kind of place Camden Town is – a place where the gutters are awash with puke – but if we are honest, it has always been known as somewhere where people come to when the sun goes down to eat, go to gigs and drink more than they probably should. It’s hard to have one without the other. If you want the area to be a place to be loved for its nightlife, there will always be people that indulge too much and, like it or not, are going to need to be helped to find a safe way home.

So, what are we left with: better education of the risks of overdoing it, of course. But maybe it won’t be that long before medical wigwams for the bucketheads collapsed on whiskey becomes the norm.


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