Guest blogger Neal Pollack has been a satirist (Vanity Fair), a sexologist (Nerve.com), and a cultural anthropologist (McSweeney's). Here, Pollack will explore all the wild, weird, and noteworthy stories you may have missed.
The holidays tend to bring out the worst in nanny-state tendencies from our governments. In the U.S., this usually takes the form of well meaning but futile commercials—usually sandwiched between beer ads during low-level bowl games—imploring you not to drink and drive. But in the U.K., where the drunken holiday lout is almost the national mascot, the government has taken it one step further.
Someone in the British Foreign Office recently got money to wage an "information" campaign warning people of the dangers of drinking while on ski holiday. This, apparently, is in response to the urgent societal problem of young, feckless Brits going to resort towns in the French Alps and getting plastered. The inciting incident occurred last year when a 20-year-old student got lost in a snowstorm on her way home, fell in a river, and died of hypothermia. A story in the Guardian said that Rachel Ward (not the hot actress from the 80s) "was no heavy drinker" and had left the pub early. In other words, she wasn't drunk. But that didn't prevent the British government from rising to the occasion, right ho!
After all, as one doorman says in the story, "Stand outside Dicks [Tea Bar, a popular venue] when the season has taken off and you'll see a dozen or so guys dressed as Tarzan in leather pants." Well, of course, if you choose to stand outside Dicks Tea Bar, that's what you'll see. But if the English government wanted to avoid its citizens portraying themselves as alcoholic goofballs, it's too late. That barn door has been open, to people of all classes, since the age of Falstaff.
In the Guardian story, an Alps-based English doctor (and who is more likely to take foolish health risks than a doctor?) says: "In general the Brits do overdo it. It's in the culture of the place: you go skiing, you have a vin chaud, you have an après-ski beer, you have wine with dinner in the hotel and before you know it you've gone over your weekly limit."