“I’m never drinking again!”, declares man holding drink

As part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to total annihilation and an early, gin-soaked grave, millions of Britons have started 2013 by lying loudly about never, ever drinking again.

The absolute stone-cold fallacy comes in the wake of New Year’s Eve, where otherwise modest alcoholics traditionally attempt to drink a unit of alcohol for every year since the birth of Christ in a grim attempt to forget the horrors of the previous pointless lap of the Sun whilst wearing something nice which we always think won’t get ruined, but which always does.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

This ritual of drunken carnage is, by law, interspersed with questionable decisions and at least one person wondering aloud why nobody has started kissing as soon as the first firework bursts over the London eye. In my own personal case our party strolled down to a nearby bridge to watch the side of the London fireworks. There was merriment all round in the large crowd, who began a good old-fashioned singalong. Sensing his opportunity, one of my more vertically impressive flatmates raised his arms and screamed ‘ORGY!’ to the crowd of families and young children. At least five hundred million similar incidents were recorded on the night.

Waking on New Year’s Day to be greeted by a hangover the size of France, questions like “Who am I?”, “Why am I?” and “Is that beer in the washing machine?” and, often, a bewildered moose shitting in the living room, 97% of people immediately forswear alcohol and vow to lead a quiet life of meditation, running and lying to themselves.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It's lying.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It’s lying.

I predict that this newfound sense of inner peace, in no way driven by shame and a throbbing liver, will last until roughly Friday, when Dry January will experience it’s first light shower – roughly coinciding with people realising that they really bloody love drinking. From this point, Dry January will be dry in the way that 2012 was dry and as such will likely result in the permanent ‘Atlantisisation’ of large swathes of the West Country. Hurricane Brandy is expected to make landfall no later than January 9th.

Pint?

An Englishman’s Guide: Mallorca Pt 1

Bought to you by me! An idiot in a jaunty hat.

So, Mallorca.

Those of you with a passing knowledge of European geography will be aware that Mallorca is one of the Balearics, a small group of islands that sit off the east coast of Spain. Balearics sounds a little like bollocks, and as a youth I certainly thought of Mallorca as such. In Essex at least, the kind of people who generally want to go to Mallorca are the kind of people who have nicknames like Jizzy Pete and hang around outside terrible clubs looking for ‘fanny’. Amongst the Brits, Mallorca is probably best known for Magaluf, or Rashtown as I like to call it. It’s the kind of place you can find Jizzy Pete looking for fanny.

Don’t be fooled, however, because the island is actually an absolute gem. Whether it’s beaches, mountains, good food, good wine, or just a massive piss-up you’re after, then Mallorca is probably the right place.

Go Mobile

Hire a car. I really can’t stress that one enough. You can have a great time without one, but you’ll have an unbelievable time with some wheels at your disposal. Public transport on the island is very good, but the best it has to offer is well off the beaten track. We booked and picked up our brand spanking new Peugeot 208 on the same day, and 3 days of use came to about 160 euros. We went with Goldcar and they were pretty good, and I’ve also heard good things about RecordGO.

Sun, Sea, Psicobloc

The last time I visited Mallorca, a two day jaunt at the end of a long month travelling, we stuck strictly to Palma beach. This is a perfectly nice beach, and a bit of a tourist hub, but there are some absolute stunners out there that you really shouldn’t miss. First and foremost amongst them in my mind is the magnificent Cala Varques on the eastern side of Mallorca.

This unbelievable little cove is a must see for any visitor, and almost makes the car hire worth the cost in itself. Drive towards Manacor, noted for producing Rafa Nadal and absolutely nothing else, then head for Porto Cristo. You need to take a right onto the Ma-2015 and follow it to the end, then left onto the Ma-2014 and right after about 100m. To my knowledge it isn’t signposted at all, but is worth a little head-scratching to get to. You’ll find yourself on a dirt track, which you should park on. Follow the trickle of locals for what seems like 10 miles through the forest and scrub, before emerging in a little piece of paradise.

I was too busy avoiding weeping to take any pictures, but luckily Google has come to my aid:

Not even a good picture

Apparently every now and then you’ll be greeted by a cow on the beach being herded by a naked elderly man. This can only be a good thing. We managed to plonk ourselves down behind a group of girls, one of whom kept standing up, facing towards us, and tweaking her nipples. This can only be a good thing. I had to resist the urge to applaud loudly.

Over to the left of the bay is a little covered outcrop where an elderly lady and middle aged man, who I can only hope are lovers, serve cold drinks, cocktails and fresh sandwiches. I was driving so stayed off the hard stuff, but elderly lady made me an awesome homemade lemonade, and the girl next to me squeaked a bit when she tried her caipirinha, so I think it was quite good.

The real pleasure at Varques is up and over the rocks to the left. If you follow the trail up and over you come to one of the world’s premier psicobloc sites. For the uninitiated, Psicobloc (aka deep water soloing), is a form of rock climbing where you mill about with absolutely no ropes above a suitably deep bit of ocean. If you fall off, you only hit crystal clear blue coolness. It’s incredible, and I’d urge anyone to try it. There are also a couple of big caves around there; try swimming to the back of the left-hand one and putting your face against the hole.

Sa Rapita is another tidy little beach, this time on the south of the island; it runs into the famous Es Trenc beach but is a little quieter, and seriously beautiful. The water seems to run as a little shelf for about 50 metres out to sea, it’s only about two feet deep and like a bath, before plunging into proper, glass-clear water. Something about the length of the beach gives it a really great atmosphere; you get a feeling that you’re just a tiny speck in a vast paradise. It’s quite pleasant.

The beach at Sa Rapita.

Finally, there is Sa Calobra.

Sa Colobra is brilliant for two reasons. One is that it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The beach is formed as the Torrent de Pareis tumbles headlong out of the mountains between two vast rock walls; the result is an unusual arrangement that feels a bit like the scene in Star Wars where they almost get squished by slow-moving walls. (Quite why they jumped down that trash chute has always puzzled me. Surely any self-respecting Death Star would have had a fire exit they could have fled through? Less dramatic I suppose…)

“Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!”

The second plus point to Sa Colobra is that you have to navigate a bum-puckeringly tight set of mountain roads to get there. This is excellent if you are driving with a mortal enemy with a heart complaint: they won’t make it half way. I managed to terrify a Texan and an Essex girl with what I called my precision and they called “fucking insanity”. This can only be a good thing.

Eating. Drinking. More drinking.

There are many culinary and bacchanalian delights to be found on Mallorca, as long as you are prepared to accept that serrano ham and cheese are classed as necessities in every meal. This can only be a good thing.

Being Spain, tapas is pretty popular, and every Tuesday and Wednesday night Palma holds la Ruta. Smack bang in the centre of town you’ll find a load of tapas bars that have clubbed together to make this event successful. 2 Euros will get you a little bite to eat, there’s always a healthy selection, and a canya (small beer) or glass of wine. Not only is this dirt cheap, and good food, and an acceptable way of getting trollied, but it’s also a good way to meet people as half the town seems to come out and play. Expect the revelry to go on until at least 2, although the tapas is usually gone by 12.

Staying in Palma, the Can Juan de S’Aigo has to be checked out too. It’s been about since the early 18th Century and serves up ice cream you’ll struggle to beat anywhere. The Almendra (almond) and Fresones (strawberry, more like a sorbet) are particularly good, but at 2 Euros a pop you could eat your way through the whole selection and not feel hard done by. Half chocolate, half strawberry is a definite winner. While you’re there, pick up a freshly baked ensaimada, a local pastry which is gorgeously light and perfect for dipping into the dribbly remains of your ice cream.

I don’t know what flavour this was but it tasted like happy.

Veering out of Palma is worthwhile for some good eats. Get up into the mountains just to the west of Palma and there are some real treats. There’s a sleepy but beautiful little village called Puigpunyent. A small bar on your right as you head into town serves a great Pa amb Oli with typically Catalan service; the woman seemed genuinely affronted that we wanted to order food and drinks. I like that. Pa amb Oli is a simple yet delicious plate of lightly grilled bread doused in fine olive oil and a suggestion of fresh tomato, then topped with your choice of ham, cheese or any combination of those two. It’s a world of choice. There’s also a handful of fresh local olives and some spicy pickles to go with it. In a swelteringly hot place, it makes for a pretty perfect meal.

If you want something more substantial head up to Genova, a short trip from Palma. The place seriously enjoys meat. The most famous establishment is Can Pedro, where roast lamb in a hundred different ways is the order of the day. Make sure you’re hungry, when you order roast lamb that is literally what you get. Beware the meat sweats. There would be a picture but I was too busy struggling to breathe. One note of caution, expect to pay 20 Euros for food and drink there. It’s good, but probably touches the margins of good value.

Finally on the food front, get up to Valdemossa and enjoy a coca de patata (cake made from potata. Not as weird as it sounds) with a big bowl of dipping chocolate (chocolate a la taza or  similar). It’s a good way to spend an afternoon.

Potato and cake, together at last

On that sweet thought I’m going to leave it for now. In the next episode, alcohol, activities and how to alienate friends you only just made with the help of a Peugeot 208 and a Portuguese tour bus.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I have shamelessly pilfered most of the pics in the above from my travel and drinking companion on account of being woefully inept at cameras and stuff and she is in touch with the social world whereas I still regularly forget my phone has a camera on it. Check her out! @katie_jane_rose

 

“Try to avoid drinking until at least breakfast”, haggard-looking government tells nation

“Or at least stick to something mild on your cornflakes. Gin? Oh, for Christ’s sake.”

Having utterly failed to convince even a single man, woman or child in Britain to slightly moderate their drinking habits, or “lives” as they are otherwise known, parliament has released a set of guidelines ironically entitled “We Give Up” to try to corral the average Brit into simply laying off the absinthe for as little as 48 hours.

A standard Tuesday morning in the UK

The report has been met with laughter, derision, and in true British style even got its face kicked in by some tanked up arseholes in Nuneaton.

Aside from the frank admission that Britain as a concept is now pretty much constantly blitzed (look at a map of the globe. Britain would describe itself as existing at a ‘jaunty’ angle, but we all know that that lean is way more of a ‘four pint stumbly’ angle), two overriding truths have been revealed about our great land.

First, it has become apparent that whoever is in charge of alcohol guidelines is an absolute, perfectly formed moron. The new guidelines, published 2012, have come about because the old guidelines, published 1995, “appeared to endorse daily drinking” (direct quote that, a real one too and not one I’ve just made up for a change).

It has taken in excess of 16 (SIXTEEN!) years for anybody in a position of authority to notice that guidelines which suggest that people imbibe no more than 4 units of booze daily might, just might, make it seem like daily drinking was ok. Apparently the word ‘daily’ was meant to be taken in a much less literal context than the word ‘daily’ is often understood. Or in the lesser-known alternative meaning of the word, which must be ‘not every day’.

Perhaps if they were trying to avoid daily drinking, they might have used a less misleading word than ‘daily’ to achieve that end. Just a thought.

“You must eat your 5-a-day. And what we obviously mean by this is three carrots a year.No, I don’t see how you could have interpreted that statement in any other way.”

The second, more heartening revelation is that the people of Britain are capable, and have indeed been engaged in, mass collective action on an astounding scale.

According to the figures, 90% of people are aware of the existence of alcoholic ‘units’ but an astounding 107% of people are unable to specify what this translates to in the glass. This is, of course, bullshit. We all know a unit is about three measly sips of Tesco value wine, or an eighth of a pint, or something equally unrealistically tiny. So we have entered into a mass deception to fool the authorities whereby units are a complete mystery, and we can thereby continue getting absolutely slashed with a squeaky clean conscience.

Most people choose to describe a unit as “a quarter of what I have drunk and will drink this evening”, but others are bolder and more fanciful and claim that a unit is an incredibly rare bird that lives in the Amazon, and it is therefore difficult, not to mention unethical, to consume four in a day. Some have bastardised the “one glass = one unit” methodology with gusto, becoming wonderfully liberal with what constitutes one drink.  Triple whisky. One glass, one unit. Yard of White Lightning. One glass, one unit. Industrial-sized bottle of Ouzo. Technically One glass, one unit.

It’s as though acknowledging something exists exempts us from any further knowledge of it.

“I’m aware of the existence of ‘the law’, but as I can’t conceptualise it adequately I’m going to stove this man’s face in with a sharp lizard and you will have no power to stop me.”

Would be an extreme example of this logic.

To celebrate the new alcohol guidelines I’ll be having two days away from drink and then enjoying a rather large bottle of Scotch with supper on Friday.

One glass, one unit.

Yeah! Superbowl! Woo! Footbaaaalll!

These four words will make you look like a true NFL aficionado in any bar across the land tonight. They may also get you punched, but use this to your advantage by screaming ‘TOUCHDOWN!’ as you spit out your own teeth. You’ll be a god.

If any of the above sounded completely incomprehensible, don’t worry. You’re well on your way to becoming an expert. Tonight, thousands of otherwise self-respecting Brits will stay up all night watching fat Americans in spandex run headlong into each other again, and again, and again, until somebody is arbitrarily declared the winner about four hours later. If any sport sums up the modern USA perfectly it’s American Football:

1) It’s completely insane.

2) Nobody ever knows what is happening.

3) There’s a commercial break every 9 seconds.

4) The white guy stands back and takes all the credit while the black guys do all the hard          work. (risky joke alert)

If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching the Superbowl before, it’s one of the most incredible sporting spectacles on the planet. The sport itself is a side issue, obviously, but the whole event is a rich homage to the American dream: loud, garish and lacking in any real substance.

Most importantly for people on this side of the pond, the Superbowl offer a rare chance to stay up drinking until four in the morning on a Sunday and not be judged or offered ‘help’. This collective piss-up is the single main attraction of tonight, but in order to experience it to the full I’ve put together some tips so you can enjoy the game in true American style whilst remaining a drunken credit to Britain.

The Rantraverelax Superbowl Survival Guide

1) Get drunk early. Stay drunk late. This is crucial. The drunker you are, the more the game will seem to make sense and the louder you will inevitably become. It is actually illegal in the US to watch a game of football without being ‘absolutely steaming’. Allegedly the game was created whilst heavily under the influence, explaining why it makes no real sense but is very shiny.

2) Pick a side. For your information, tonight’s choice is the ‘Steelers’ or the ‘Packers’. What this means is irrelevant, just pick one and stick with it. Loudly. Until they begin to lose, then hastily change and shout louder for the other team.

3) Dress sensibly. Body paint is a must for any fan. Lot’s of body paint. If this fails, a priest’s cassock is an option for the more avant-garde spectator. If you’d like to be seen as some kind of football guru, wear a giant foam hand. This will impede drinking, but will earn you the respect of every other charlatan in the place who’s only there to drink and shout.

4) Snack often. American football offers a two-pronged assault on the stomach. One, it’s immensely dull. Two, every second advert is for something fried in butter dipped in chocolate; equating to exposure to fast food every twelve seconds. Nobody can realistically survive this combination without access to a simply grotesque store of fatty goods. Keep a deep fat fryer to hand, at all times, and be damned sure to use it.

5) Avoid the game at all costs. It’ll crush your soul. Aside from the halting pointlessness of the whole thing, each team comprises at least three hundred players, so you’ll never see the same person twice. Case studies have shown that any person who has ever watched a full game of football has gone, in medical terms, ‘fucking bat-shit crazy’ within four hours. Don’t make yourself that person.

6) You’re all in the same boat. So you don’t know the rules. Who cares? Recent research suggests that for every million viewers of American football, less than none have any real idea what’s going on. With this in mind, get creative. Bring out your best bullshit. Scream the words ‘FIRST DOWN’, ‘OO-RAH’, ‘GREAT D’ and ‘SACKED!’ every now and then to add a sprinkling of authenticity to your wild, rambling opinions.

Fin.