Monday, 30 July 2007

A Great Tradition

Saturday night was of course the busiest time and the closing of the public-houses the busiest hour. Men would be brought in by the police dead drunk and it would be necessary to administer a stomach-pump; women, rather the worse for liquor themselves, would come in with a wound on the head or a bleeding nose which their husbands had given them: some would vow to have the law on him, and others, ashamed, would declare that it had been an accident... The wards were crowded, and the house-surgeon was faced with a dilemma when patients were brought in by the police: if they were sent on to the station and died there disagreeable things were said in the papers; and it was very difficult sometimes to tell if a man was dying or drunk.

You could be forgiven for believing that this was an interview with a medical student straight from an upcoming Panorama special on alcohol related injuries. In truth it is an excerpt from W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage published in 1915 and the scene is set at the turn of the centaury during the beginning of the Boer War.

It provides just a small piece of evidence that today’s weekend behaviour is merely part of a long standing tradition.

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