Visit the Cooking Lager site

The myth of pre loading or why pre loading is a recognised trend because 380 scouse students filled in a questionnaire.

One of the arguments usually trotted out by the anti cheap booze killjoys is to repeat the myth of preloading. That is to argue that cheap off trade alcohol is irresponsible because it is apparently common place for people these days to drink at home prior to heading for a night on the town. I have long considered this to be a weak and flawed argument, regardless of whether the activity is common or not.

Firstly it attempts to place the blame for drunken behaviour on the first rather than last drink of an evening (god forbid you place it on the actual drunk) and shift it onto supermarkets and away from pubs and bars when all those fighting and puking in the street have clearly being hitting the bars near where the trouble occurred. An attempt to shift responsibility and paint pubs and bars as wholly safe, responsible and controlled environments.

This of course begs the question as to whether there was any anti social drunken behaviour before off trade alcohol was common place. In times when the only place you could get a drink was in a pub, was the country a civilised example of temperance and moderation? I would say not, and point you to the origins of the temperance movement, detailed here. Specifically a quote from temperance campaigner George Sims, the origins of which can be found here,

Enter the public-houses, and you will see them crammed. Here are artisans and labourers drinking away the wages that ought to clothe their little ones. Here are the women squandering the money that would purchase food, for the lack of which the children are dying.

Its pubs he is talking about, not Tesco’s. I have never bought the line that pubs are controlled and responsible environments, for one simple reason, I have been into pubs. Many and varied boozers from middle class tosspot dining pubs to swanky bars to dumpy old man’s boozers to rough places where the punters all have missing ears. You can of course not lay claim that all pubs are the same and be, to quote Star Wars “wretched hives of scum and villainy”, but by equal measure you cannot claim all pubs are responsible and controlled environments. Pub landlords have little control over how much an individual may drink if a punter is being bought drinks by others, nor can they really know whether a drunk entering their premises has been drinking in other pubs or at home. The pub and bar crawl is a common activity in Britain and on any given Friday and Saturday night many people will move between bars. This affords no insight in to how many a punter has had, or where.

The question has to also be asked, if pubs are responsible places, and a drunk enters the premises, what are they doing serving drunks? Serving a drunk is illegal. It cannot be controlled and responsible to sell them more.

I could also explain my own experience of preloading. When I went to university it wasn’t uncommon to have a few drinks in either the halls of residence or later our shared house and head out later. As skint students, we had limited funds but still wanted to go out and attempt to pull a girl, but more likely end up with only a kebab. I noticed a difference in behaviour among friends that didn’t go to university. Rather than live away from home, these friends began work and remained at home. An evening would start off early in a pub and lead onto the late night bar or night club, with no less alcohol consumed. Primarily because a bar was the only communal place to meet and disposable funds were greater. The difference wasn’t related to the price of supermarket booze, but a combination of having a home without parents present and less disposable income. I would say further that the anti social behaviour of my university friends was no lesser or greater than my taxpaying employed not bloody scrounging student friends.

However all this is as they say anecdotal evidence. What we need is peer reviewed proper researched evidence. With the magic of Google I’ve found this. It’s looks like proper scientific research, it smells like proper scientific research, but does it taste like scientific research? No, it tastes like shit. It is a study not of the general population, but of only 380 people, conducted by John Moores University. Basically a questionnaire put out put out by research students and answered by 380 other students. From this they have discovered over half of them preload. From this limited section of the population it is apparently possible to make the following claims.

  1. • More than half of those interviewed usually pre-load with alcohol – that is drink at their own or a friend’s home before leaving for a night’s drinking in a town or city centre.
  2. • On average, women who pre-load consume over a third of their total amount of alcohol for that evening before leaving their own or their friends’ homes. Men who pre-load consume approximately a quarter of their nightly total before leaving home for their night out.
  3. • On average, males and females consumed more than the recommended weekly maximum for an individual’s alcohol consumption (21 units1 for a man and 14 units for a woman) in a single night out. Those who pre-loaded were four times more likely to consume over 20 units on a night out (including pre-loading, and bar and club drinking).
  4. • Those who pre-loaded were also two and half times more likely to have been in a fight when going out in the last 12 months. In fact pre-loading was more strongly associated with being involved in nightlife violence than the total amount of alcohol an individual consumed.

All of this, on the basis of interviewing 380 scouse students. From crap like this it is then possible to get to this

So, if 333-million fewer pints are being sold in the nation’s boozers, where is the increase in liver damage coming from?

The answer is, quite simply, through the recognised trend of pre-loading.

Recognised trend? I’m really sorry but when you look at let’s say the link between smoking and cancer, you had a society where over half the population smoked, and cancer wards that contained a far greater proportion of smokers and with data that covered whole populations you could take correlation and infer causality. You really cannot do that by asking 380 scouse students to fill in a questionnaire. Recognised trend? Recognised trend? By all means believe what you want to believe because it supports your pre existing world view, but really, Recognised trend?

Binge drink Britain, pre loading? Good fucking god. Pubs get your house in order, stop serving drunks and tipping them out into the streets to puke and fight and then and only then can we talk about safe and controlled and responsible environments.