Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another day, another dollar, another drink : Irish life summed up

Is it me or is the working world intensely boring?

At twentysomething (a young twentysomething, let me stress here), I work, get home, maybe meet friends (out or at home), blog, read, watch TV, go to the cinema, the theatre or a gig and, the odd time, "go drinking". I have enough disposable income to allow all of this.

Most of my friends and acquaintances do similar things, sans reading and blogging, avec plus de "going drinking". Beaucoup plus de "going drinking".

So where's the rub?

Every one of them has 'plans'. Plans that, in the main, will never come to fruition. Plans about Australia, about France, about learning Spanish and moving to South America, even for just a year. Plans to go back to college. Plans to completely change personalities and lives. These are mainly made in the pub.

Oh yes, the pub. Did I mention that? I met someone I know as a passing acquaintance at the swimming pool the other day. In a chat that got way too deep for a five-minute Sunday soak in the jacuzzi, she confessed how hard she finds it to make friends and said she was sick of being thought weird because she didn't just want to" go drinking". Isn't peer pressure supposed to finish up when you're 18?

When did "going drinking" become an adventure sport? When did it become a pastime? What about socialising? What about gigs, darts, playing pool, playing cards, even going on the pull for God's sake... all the things that used to happen in pubs? These days, drinking is the reason you go out. You "go drinking" on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. And maybe "for a pint" (a different thing entirely) on a Sunday, and maybe a Wednesday.

What is wrong with us? Every twentysomething I have met in the world of work "goes drinking" at the weekend.

Despite the bad rep college has, things are worse in the world of the young Irish professional. At least in college you have clubs, societies, and days and nights spent drinking tea and eating whatever biscuits were on 2-for-1 with your flatmates and whoever else happened to call by. Sometimes you may have done that with alcohol. But it wasn't "going drinking", because you were doing other things at the same time, like chatting with friends or even just watching the bloody television. Surfing might be the new black in the West of Ireland, but it plays a poor second to drinking.

Where are we going wrong? Now personally, I read books, I go to the cinema, I drink coffee or tea with people instead of "going drinking". Is it me that's going wrong?

Don't get me wrong. I love a couple of glasses of wine. In fact, I've just had two in the company of a friend for whom I regularly make dinner. While we watch TV. I also love to "go for a pint"* (*denotes drinking which takes place in the context of conversation and without a large amount of flesh on display). But there is something deeply disturbing about the fact that there are thousands (hundreds of thousands? I'm too tired to research) of twentysomethings, mainly in cities and big towns throughout Ireland, whose sole pastime and way of meeting people is through "going drinking". What a way to build a society.

In thirty years' time, we will be the ones running the show. On a society created from alliances based on "going drinking". Marriages, friendships and even business deals will be based on drunken encounters in heaving disco bars and nightclubs. I can hear you scoffing at the thought, but what if I showed you the example of a couple I know, together three years, who I have known six months, but never known to be sober in each other's company after 5pm? And they don't see anything unusual in that.

My life is fun. I like it. But describing a weekend without a "session" sounds, even to me, rather woefully empty - despite being full of fun, chat, gossip, a small amount of travel and even some big deep talks. But sans hangover the weekend does not read as "fun" to anyone else.

... Can anyone explain this to me?


  1. Heya, your observation is certainly fair about our drinking habits in Ireland but not just among the youth.
    I was involved in organising a wine reception Monday and was repeatedy pressured by one of the academic staff to show our visiting lecturer the hard drinking Irish he'd expected! So I'm seeing the shift in attitude to drink in the younger generation, for example, that wine reception had few young people attend, and of those most drank soft drinks so have some hope!

  2. You're right, I can't understand it, I love "going for a pint" and I love having people over to the house, but I probably only go "out out" once or twice a year.

    I had a "party" at Christmas and one of my friends who has moved to LK from Dub came to the party expecting a wild loud cocaine fueled session. She got Christmas cookies (actual cookies) and Trivial Pursuit followed by some Wii sport, accompanied by a lot of "shushh the neighbours have a baby"