Does Britain have a drinking problem? My answer very much depends on who’s asking

I live in the US but was born in the UK. You know what that means? It means I can slag off the motherland as much as I like; being rude about Britain is my birthright. It’s obviously unacceptable, however, for Americans to do the same. The moment a Yank says anything unflattering about the UK – even if it’s something I agree with – I go into full-on performative patriot mode. My hackles go up, my union jack comes out; I become a gay, half-Palestinian version of Nigel Farage, all pink and outraged.

It is with regret that I admit I got just the tiniest bit Faragey last week. There was, you see, a viral debate about British drinking habits. An American posted on Reddit to ask whether it was true that Britons really went to the pub a lot. “Here in the US if you go to bars multiple times a week and mentioned this to people they might think you are an alcoholic,” the person said. “It just seems like [British] TV shows are exaggerating how common it is to actually ‘go to the pub.’”

There was nothing nasty about the question. But it did insinuate that Britain has a bit of a drinking problem. Which, to be fair, it does. However, nobody wants to hear an American pointing that out. Especially as the US has a very dangerous relationship with booze. There are still dry counties in the US, where you can’t buy a bottle of wine but you can very easily buy an assault rifle. Nobody wants to hear a lecture about responsible drinking from a country where you can buy a handgun without a licence or background check. Britain may be legless half the time, but at least it doesn’t have a weird fixation with its right to bear arms.

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