Roy Beers: So here it is, Merry Blitzmas…

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Related tags: Late night, Glasgow, Cocaine

Don't drink too much. Don't eat too much. Don't spend too much (unless you're filthy rich, obviously) and don't get robbed, mugged or worse while...

Don't drink too much. Don't eat too much. Don't spend too much (unless you're filthy rich, obviously) and don't get robbed, mugged or worse while ignoring any or all of the foregoing.

All the sensible rules of normal human behaviour will be broken by countless thousands over the festive break, unless since last year some momentous revolution in late night weekend behaviour has taken place without me noticing it.

Despite the police "blitzes" promised by the newspapers - I suspect it's just a sexier word than "initiative" - people will get blitzed. It's against the law to serve drunk people, of course, but that can be a difficult judgement call when everybody, even the habitually lugubrious, is merry.

Unfortunately late night crowds will include many people who are "blitzed" without having had a drink. Recent reports strongly confirm a dangerous tendency for proliferating hard drug use to conflate with the worst sort of pub trade element.

At some point, probably mid-January, some sort of review of festive assault, drink-driving and drink-related hospital admissions will tell us whether the negative effects of the seasonal binge are at the usual levels or getting worse.

What it won't tell us is what percentage of those involved were a) Tanked up before they went out, as is apparently increasingly the case in the under-35s, and/or b) drugged up, courtesy of the cheap cocaine or other drugs which are now freely offered in all sorts of trade premises.

My authority for this bald assertion is Strathclyde Police Drugs Squad, which has run cocaine awareness promotions aimed at the regular pub trade.

One anecdotal account, which may be true or not, has it that the advent of SIA-enforced security standards has sent drug-peddling rats scurrying from their habitual lairs to "normal" bars where you wouldn't normally expect to find drugs on offer.

Even if this is mere paranoia, it's a possibility that has to be taken seriously.

The eye of the festive hurricane is Friday Dec 14, fondly known as Black Friday, when many employers stage their annual office night out.

It's a collective letting-off of steam fraught with risks for the drink un-savvied, and union reps will tell you the first couple of weeks of January are usually clogged with cases of employees who, befuddled with drink, blurted out their real feelings to management - and in technicolour.

Unfortunately the hilarity isn't confined to this end-of-term extravaganza. Pubs which usually see only normal regular topers are suddenly awash with complete strangers, often clad in bedraggled party refinery.

The oafish ones are more oafish, with ties askew, and the snooty ones are like "Lord Charles" on a bender.

The drunkest ones, as anyone who has seen them can tell you, are the office types who don't usually drink at all - a couple of vodka and cranberries and they undergo a complete and frightening personality change.

There's also the ones who burst into uncontrollable tears and lock themselves in the ladies'; who spontaneously sing opera, very badly; or disport themselves as if they are Russian aristocracy and the bar staff abject serfs.

Other favourite antics include falling off stools, knocking over somebody's pint (over the big quiet man's girlfriend's designer dress), and loudly insisting to bar staff "that was a £20 note I gave you mate, not a ten."

In Glasgow West End's Ashton Lane, university-land, there's a nice bunch of quality bars and restaurants which function as a discrete trade "strip", and which aim to appeal to a nice bunch of customers.

At Hogmanay they're making the lane a (paid) ticket-only venue, and - good move this - you have prove you're local in order to buy a ticket. You're becoming a paying member of a one-night-only "club".

Apart from free entertainment (live bands, etc) the cash also pays for rigorous but low-profile security.

The subtext, which the bar owners aren't allowed to spell out, is that the combination of locals-only and an admission price is enough to deter very large numbers of people who could potentially spoil the whole "vibe" of the place for everybody else. It's a sort of financial apartheid, but one of which I heartily approve.

You could argue students and others with little cash are left out, but in fact they can easily afford it by spending one normal night "in". Meanwhile the rowdies., and the non-local trash-with-cash element, are excluded. It's a bargain.

But in case I'm making the whole festive spree sound like one vast Hogarthian splurge of excess it's also a fact that many of our "good" places are somehow even better at this time of year.

Once people are free of their offices for a few days and have calmed down a bit, they can sometimes find the time for a leisurely chat, whereas normally they'd only manage a quick pub visit outside weekends.

What about people who actually work in bars? If there's one thing I find depressing it's middle-aged barmen defiantly wearing santa hats, and miserable barmaids sporting antlers (which provokes customers into saying "excuse me deer" all the time).

But we'd better get used to this sort of compulsory goodwill because the winter silly season has definitely begun.

In one newspaper I read of a festive cocktail which costs £35,000 apparently because it has a diamond ring at the bottom - it would be tragic if some rich idiot choked on it - while in Scotland's top-selling tabloid, the Daily Record, we read of a budgie which has lived to the (for a budgie) remarkable age of ten by drinking its owner's whisky on a regular basis: he's an Aberdonian budgie, so I'd suggest his tipple may be The Macallan.

These and similar stories are tinsel-covered clues that what the marketing people romantically term the festive bi-month is well underway. The "half price"-advertised Tennent's Lager in my local supermarket confirms it. Let's hope it's a good one … without any tears.

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