James Durston: Drunken British expats should be chained up

James Durston: Drunken British expats should be chained up

Why the British tendency to drink till you do something stupid needs to be stamped out

James DurstonLi Ka-shing recently asked the Hong Kong citizenry for some “good ideas” that could make Hong Kong a better place. Here’s one:

Sentence all drunken idiots stumbling around Soho/Central/LKF to 100 days chained to a bar in Soho/Central/LKF … with no booze. Let’s see how many a cappella renditions of Frankie Valli’s “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” they can take, then throw in a few strangers draping their arms around them and breathing over and over into their face, “Yuh know, I dunno whoyooarr, buh I love you sho mush.”

An eye for an eye, and all that. 

And if they happen to be English, castrate them too. That might sound a bit severe, but if someone insists on singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at 4 a.m. outside my apartment, as many Brits do, the least they can do is make sure they hit those high notes.

Anecdotes about drunken British morons abroad are about as original as … the antics of those drunken British morons. But that’s exactly my point. How many times do we have to hear about some beered-up banker arrested for indecently assaulting a taxi exhaust before we make an example of him?

Just to give this some context, I’m English, and I’m no stranger to the odd beer or six on a Saturday night. But I’ve never felt the urge to take off my pants, wrap them around my head and sit in the middle of the street singing “We Wish You A Beery Christmas.”

Yes, I saw that, from my apartment window. In August. 

Most annoyingly, the police seem to accept this as a natural facet of life in the Soho/Central/Lan Kwai Fong areas. Hong Kong's police reported 683 instances of drunk and disorderly conduct in 2009. I have to ask where they're looking, because I see that many on one night in Wan Chai.

Allowing these scenes of alcoholic brainlessness to continue amounts to an abuse of human rights -- against the British. We must stamp out this humiliating behavior, for my compatriots’ own self respect. 

drinking in Hong KongTwo pints good. Nine pints bad. The truth is though, this tendency to drink oneself into oblivion is a symptom of a far more pernicious condition -- that of being an expat. 

To be an expat is to be anonymous, and anonymous people don’t care, they don’t contribute, they don’t even clean up after themselves. Expats are the stray dogs of the working world. They arrive, they sniff around, and once they’ve eaten, humped or pissed on everything in sight, they move on.

They live here, and yet they act like rock stars in a hotel room because it’s not really their home.

But if you live here it is your home. More importantly it’s my home, and every weekend it feels as if it has been invaded by a bunch of university students on free-shots night. 

It’s not the drinking that gets me, it’s the drinking till you’re so drunk you end up pouring that seventh shot of Sambuca in your eye rather than your mouth. Deliberately. 

Or the drinking till you’re so drunk, you think that gorgeous Amazonian goddess with the cool shoulder tattoo at the bar just licked her lips at you, only to find out she’s a he, the tattoo’s a knife wound but sod it, you’ll shag it anyway.

Some other alco-scenes I have witnessed in Hong Kong:

- A man tries to light his cigarette, using a street light. Halfway up he falls, writhes in pain on the ground, much to the hilarity of his ‘buddies.’

- Two men, in suits, sprint out of control down the hill on Shelley Street. The first one manages to stop by running into a garbage can. The second one stops … right after being hit by a car.

- A friend of mine steps from my building into the street and has half a second to dodge a beer bottle spinning through the air toward her head.

Bringing this demented element of the British drinking culture on your overseas placement with you is like going to a party dressed in a penis suit. You might find it funny at the time, but in the end you’re just acting like a knob.

Also from James Durston:

The opinions of this commentary are solely those of James Durston.

As senior producer for CNN Travel, James commissions stories, writes for, edits and manages the homepage of the site. 

Follow his Twitterthing here: @jedurston

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