Monday, August 25, 2008

Being British + Visiting Spain = Death *

So I read a very interesting article about certain British tourists in Europe behaving remarkably badly. It seems that these certain types go on booze fueled binges and tear through little Greek & Spanish towns that offer $50 booze tours. Hmmm.

As a Bostonian I am aware of certain behaviors by the British and all I can say is that between the Stamp Act, a Massacre, and one clandestine evening tea party - things involving a rabble of drunken Brits don't typically end well.

Anyway, aside from the lurid tales of binge drinking and general mayhemery, what I found most interesting about this article, that ran in the NYT, was the following statement:

"A recent report published by the British Foreign Office, “British Behavior Abroad,” noted that in a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007, 602 Britons were hospitalized and 28 raped in Greece, and that 1,591 died in Spain and 2,032 were arrested there."

Holy crap! 1,591 deaths in 12 months! Now granted this doesn't specify whether these are deaths due to drinking, or if the number includes elderly expats (Spain is like Florida to Britons - la sala de espera de dios, if you will), or if it's just pissed off Spaniards clubbing the Brits to death... but still, it is a high number.

That is just over 4 British deaths per day, every day for a year.

Spain is about 194, 897 sq mi in size, slightly larger than California at 155,973 sq mi, and yet according to the British Foreign Office, consular assistance was needed for only 95 deaths in the whole of the US in that same time period. That's like a quarter of a person per day.

I realize that there are huge cultural differences in the whys and wherefores in these numbers, but I am sort of awed at the fact that this kind of unrepentant boor-ism would come from the such stiff upper lips. G'lordy, the British brought us tea and wellies and Barbour and Marmite and Land Rovers, while we introduced them to the atom bomb and tobacco and bourbon, for crying aloud! Hmmm, however we should have seen this coming when they tried to slip us Heather Mills...

Ahhh well, I suppose it's those stiff upper lips that would drive a person to drink. If I had to draw a parallel to a US equivalent, I would go with the American college campus in terms of drunken debauchery. All those frustrated and highly pressurized teens suddenly let loose at college keg...

At least if I had to make the comparison, that is the first place I'd look.

* that is, if you fall into that .01% of unfortunate British tourists that the Grim Reaper is coming for.

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