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Does Drink Make a Ladette... or the Lady Drinking it?

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I have just been watching an item on morning television about British women and the way they drink. New research reveals that British women have topped a European league of binge drinking and are now as likely to overdo it as men.

The item on the television showed footage of British girls binge drinking in Malia and flashing their bottoms at the camera. Much has been made of this over the last few years, and if we are to believe all the reports, Brits behaviour abroad in the lively resorts of the Mediterranean leaves much to be desired.

But is it all down to drink - or is it a general drop in standards of behaviour and respect in general?

I am a British Woman - and I have always enjoyed a drink. Since I was 18, I have socialised with friends who also like a drink - I married a man who likes to drink and while we still enjoy a drink now, we are more likely to be found round a dinner table with good friends, good food and a good few bottles of wine, rather than out cavorting in a pub.

Alcohol was part of my life from when I was very young - but not in a negative way. One of my earliest memories was walking to the pub with Mum and Dad on a lovely summer's evening. I can remember my Dad saying "Just round this corner, just round this corner" as I asked how far we had to go - it was about two miles away which for a 5 or 6 year old was quite a jaunt!

Mum and Dad would have a few drinks in the beer garden while I drank some orange fizzy pop out of a bottle with a straw - and a packet of plain crisps - I can still taste them both - there was something special about those few hours before we caught the last bus back home.

Then there were the parties at Christmas - minibuses from one house to another with barrels of beer and bottles of Cinzano for the ladies. My uncles face getting redder and redder as he had a few more pints - games of Chase the Ace, my cousins and me in the dining room putting together a turn for everyone - happy happy times for everyone involved.

I never had a drop of alcohol until I was 18 - my Dad was very strict about that . When I was in the 6th form and we hit 17, a few of my friends started going to the disco at the local pub on a Friday night. I was allowed to go, but I had to promise not to touch a drop of alcohol - and I never did. I had too much respect for my Dad for that - and I KNEW without a doubt that if I broke the rules, then I wouldn't be allowed to go again.

My 18th Birthday was a big occasion - a trip to a pub in town - too many Babychams and a Vodka and Orange which made me throw up. ( I have never drunk vodka and orange since). I can remember my friends making me walk home to sober me up before my Dad saw me, even though all I wanted to do was get into a taxi and go to sleep.

From then on, it was all about going out and having a good time - and drink was more often than not involved.

Sometimes we would gather together at one of our friends houses and have a few Bacardis before we went out - some of the best times I have had have been before we even left the house - and indeed as I sat and drank Pimms with a friend last weekend before we went to watch the Fireworks at the Flower Show, it reminded me of those times .

I have also done the holidays in San Antonio and Magalluf. I have gone out at ten o' clock at night , drunk cheap vodka and coke through straws, got in at nine o' clock in the morning still wearing my white short shorts and white stilettos and white plastic beads just as most families are starting sunbathing for the day.

And drink has always been part of this experience. My friends and I have danced like idiots around the place, chatted for hours to strangers, fallen in love ten times in a fortnight and snogged with strange blokes on the dance floor - swapped addresses and phone numbers and kept in touch for about a month until the novelty has worn off and we are down at the travel agents booking the next holiday and buying new white shorts, because your best ones are ruined after doing "Oops Upside your Head" on a dirty disco floor.

I met my now husband in a night club - when we first met, we would go out for a drink on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday lunch - it's what we did. We didn't go mad, but it was our way of socialising and we enjoyed it.

Since we had our son , 11 years ago, we go out less. We also drink less - not only because we are responsible for a child, but because as you get older, the hangovers are harder to cope with and a smaller amount of alcohol , seems to affect you more.

But our son too, will associate alcohol as a child with good times - he has seen us drink a glass of wine or two with a big bunch of friends and he has enjoyed himself playing with their children - there has never been a problem.

Don't get me wrong - I have had some bad times with alcohol too - drowning my sorrows after a split with a boyfriend, making phone calls that I shouldn't be doing in the middle of the night, drinking too much on a work night, so struggling to cope with the next day at work.

But on the whole, I have been drinking for nearly 30 years and enjoying it. I don't drink every day or every night, so my drinking at the weekend could be classed as Binge Drinking, I'm not sure.

BUT

I have never drunk a pint - I would rather buy two halves in quick succession!

I have never flashed my bare backside at a camera.

I have never been found asleep on a pavement , not knowing where I am .

I have never thrown up in a street.

I have never been arrested.

I don't use bad language.

I have never had a fight.

I have never vandalised someone's property or trashed a hotel room.

I would never go out in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and trainers or go to Tesco in my pyjamas.

All things that you see when you read reports of the so called ladette.

I have been a bit wobbly, and a bit tiddly and I have never been allowed to forget the time I spilt my chips and gravy over my friend's car seat over 20 years ago.

My drinking habits haven't been that different to the ladettes that are reported on today's news in this survey.

I don't, however, consider myself a ladette.

So - is it the drink that makes a ladette - or the person drinking it?

YOU DECIDE