I am a lover of cities and my job finds me in metropolises across the globe examining what makes them tick. My quest is to better to understand what gives a city its leg up or down against thousands of competitors across the developed world.
Too many cities whether in the UK, Australia, the USA, Canada or NZ describe their aspiration as being a liveable and vibrant city. Australia is the leader in the liveability stakes given it boasts four of the Top 10 most liveable cities on the planet and Canada is close behind with three.
A vibrant city is one that has hordes of people buzzing between activities that are so plentiful even the busiest bee can’t sample all of its wares. The pulsing high energy city is visually stimulating, filled with distinctive places and spaces that draw crowds day and night. It’s exciting.
A city visited for the first time is like the first kiss with a new lover. So much anticipation and expectation. I haven’t met a city yet I didn’t like. A few I have even fallen in love with.
Researching cities means that you must see them in all their forms – working by day and playing by night.
A city flushed by the sunrise is a beautiful thing. Its industry throughout the day tells of fortunes good or bad. A city by night is beautiful, awash with the glow of light and people.
Yet a city visited just after dawn on the weekend is a sorry tale of streets paved with the more seedy reminders of the night before.
Whether a city such as London, Sydney, Dublin, Melbourne, New York or Perth it matters not. Seemingly a good night out cannot involve just a few drinks, it must be a swim through that ends in shots of some awful liqueur. And we are cowards. We don’t blame ourselves for consuming so much that we are unable to walk in a straight line or keep the alcohol down. No we blame the food – a sole bad prawn amongst a sea good ones – or our peers, who clearly force that last drink down our throats.
I have two hates – crying and vomiting. Call me heartless but I can’t abide either. Why is it then that if we know that a “good night out” will result in someone heaving their guts up on the way home do we not a) think more about how we can avoid driving the porcelain bus or b) plan for it.
If you are heading out on a big night out, think about how you want to look, and feel, at the end of it. If there is a chance that you, or one of your friends, will have a few too many – take a plastic bag with you. Fold it up and stick it in your back pocket or in your handbag. Use it if you need to. Everyone from the cabbie taking you home to your friends will thank you for not ralphing on them or their belongings.
Nightclubs, issue bags on the way out and have bins close by for disposal.
Cabbies, why is it that your industry doesn’t provide you with a handy little dispenser of plastic bags that can be used for those who have drunk too much or anyone else afflicted by nausea such as pregnant women?
Throughout my life alcohol has often been portrayed as an essential lubricant of social and business transactions. Non-drinkers are deemed to be “un-Australian”. By comparison people who “work hard and play hard” are celebrated, their overindulgence worn as a badge of honour.
Australia is not alone with its binge drinking culture. Policy and law makers find it hard to strike a balance between a society’s well-being and infringing on the rights of the individual.
Ultimately we must put the spotlight on ourselves. There is ample evidence that alcohol contributes to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalisations in Australia every year, yet few of us stop to think about the implications for our own lives or bodies.
Alcohol is associated with cardiovascular to liver disease, diabetes and mental health problems. It also causes injury and violent crime. But did you know that the more you drink the more likely you are to develop an alcohol related cancer? And you don’t even have to be a heavy drinker.
According to the National Cancer Institute in the USA, women who drink more than three standard drinks per day have been found to be 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer. However even women who drink one standard drink per day have been found to increase their breast cancer risk by 7% to 12 %.
Alcohol can also make us fat. A recent survey in the UK found that nearly half of people did not know that a glass of wine has the same number of calories as a slice of cake. Or that a pint of larger is equivalent in calorie count to a small sausage roll, something worth thinking about when you feel yourself relenting to that extra drink.
So ladies and girls, you know you look woeful when staggering down the street or leaning over in a short dress spewing into the gutter while a girlfriend holds back your hair.
And men and boys, you know there is nothing attractive about throwing up into little old ladies gardens of petunias on the way home.
If you are going to imbibe more than your system can handle, do us all a favour and be prepared. Don’t leave your mark for others to view while you sleep it off the next morning, because vomit ladened streets are not in my travel brochure.
But also be kind to yourself and think before you drink. Because, if you are not careful, the consequences of your night out could extend well beyond the morning after.
Marion Fulker is not a wowser and does intake moderate amounts of alcohol. She is the CEO of the Committee for Perth and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow of The University of Western Australia.
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