Incontinence of urine and fæces consequent upon severe inebriation

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 22.43.32The British no longer manufacture anything the world wants or provide any services the world wants, but in one field they are world-class: binge-drinking

Dalrymple describes his experience of working as a doctor on a British government aid project in Africa.

We were building a road through remote bush. The contract stipulated that the construction company could import, free of all taxes, alcoholic drinks from the UK. These drinks the company sold to its British workers at cost, in the local currency at the official exchange rate, which was approximately one-sixth the black-market rate. A litre bottle of gin cost less than a dollar.

Drunkenness among the British workers

far outstripped anything I have ever seen, before or since. I discovered that, when alcohol is effectively free of charge, a fifth of British construction workers will regularly go to bed so drunk that they are incontinent both of urine and fæces. I remember one man who very rarely got as far as his bed at night: he fell asleep in the lavatory, where he was usually found the next morning.

Half the men

shook in the mornings and resorted to the hair of the dog to steady their hands before they drove their bulldozers and other heavy machines (which they frequently wrecked, at enormous expense to the British taxpayer). Hangovers were universal. The men were either drunk or hung over for months on end.

In these circumstances

even formerly moderate drinkers turned alcoholic and eventually suffered from delirium tremens.

When the company inquired of its workers what it could do to improve their conditions,

they unanimously asked for a further reduction in the price of alcohol.

(1997)

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