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Binge drinking an old tradition in Britain

UPI News Service, 11/21/2005 

Historians at the Museum of London say heavy drinking is a 900-year-old tradition in the city.

"If people thought binge-drinking was a new phenomenon then they should think again," an expert told The Mirror.

The museum has unearthed wineglasses and jugs for ale that date back to the 12th century. Pictures show medieval Londoners with big beer bellies.

Then there's the written record. John Clark, curator of the Medieval London gallery, said that William Fitzstephen complained of "immoderate quaffing by fools" in London 900 years ago.

During the Middle Ages, beer was the drink for almost every one since water and milk were often contaminated and non-alcoholic drinks like tea and coffee were unknown. Even children put as much as a gallon a day down the hatch, starting at breakfast.

On Thursday, a new law takes effect allowing British pubs to stay open later. Backers of the measure hope it will bring the sociable moderation of Italian cafes to Britain, while critics fear an orgy of heavy drinking and windfall profits for distillers, brewers and pub chains.

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Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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