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Dying for a Drink

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William Crawley | 18:32 UK time, Monday, 15 September 2008

drink_30031t-1.jpgYou can see my new documentary, Dying For A Drink, which examines Northern Ireland's curious relationship with alcohol, tonight at 9pm on BBC One NI. I've written about the documentary for the Belfast Telegraph here. The film was brilliantly directed by Brian Henry Martin, who writes about his approach here. The programme was produced by Ronan Feely, who has since left the country. No -- he's not in hiding. Ronan recently re-located to the United States with his fiancée and will soon be a married man with a mid-Atlantic accent. I think Dying For A Drink was his last project at DoubleBand films before the big move to the Pacific North West. It was a blast, Ronan. I expect he will soon launch a take-over bid for a major American network.

Some more press coverage is here.


John Wright has suggested a poll on W&T bloggers and their relationship with booze. Vote here. More response to the programme on Slugger O'Toole.


  • Comment number 1.

    No way to see this in the U.S.? I'm very very curious to see it. (Anticipating that there is actually no way to see it in the U.S., would anybody be prepared to record it on iPlayer and put it on YouTube?)

  • Comment number 2.

    Ok, I'm watching. I guess a poll may be in order for readers of this blog..... Q: What is your own personal relationship with alcohol? [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry, that poll sucks - here's the one to use....

    What's your relationship with alcohol?


  • Comment number 4.

    Very good documentary exploring issues that have been in the back of my mind for a while.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't feel that this programme truthfully portrayed the problem that the misuse/abuse of alcohol can create.I got the impression that it was done as a bit of a joke.
    He never asked why those people had a problem, never asked how distructive the affects of alcohol were on the family members, never asked what those people lost as a result of "choosing" alcohol over everything else and everyone else in their lives.
    Alcohol is not a drug of choice for many, it certainly is not a choice for those who see the destructiveness of alcohol abuse.Alcohol can take control of people's lives and their spouses lives and they are helpless to stop it.
    He seemed to find his whole "project" rather amusing,
    I just hope that any recovering alcoholic had the good sense to switch over to something else.
    That was the first William Cawley programme I have watched and it will be the last.

  • Comment number 6.

    Very Interesting that we have the most binge drinkers in the Uk while also having the most Tee-totalers in Europe. I enjoyed your programme and it has got me thinking about my drink pattern. It's got me a bit worried actually. I've been binge drinkning every now and then since age 16. I'm now 23 and wanting to greatly limit my alcohol intake. In fact, a few days ago was the first time ever that I went into a pub and didn't have an alcoholic drink. I really did have a great time. It was strange though as by the end of the night I felt merrily tipsy. Maybe it was the sugar rush from all the pepsi's, who knows? All I know is that my head didn't hurt the next day and neither did my pride. Flashbacks are horrible and can only be enjoyed in the company of friends...Anyway, cheers for an interesting night in front of the tele.

  • Comment number 7.

    This seems to be a problem in other parts of Britain too. Mark Mardell has a thread about it current now and Justin Webb had one recently. Russia of course has a very high incidence of alcoholism and it is having a major effect on life expectancy to the point of being a national crisis. I get the feeling it is becoming less of a problem in the US. Perhaps It's our drunk driving laws which impose manditory stiff penalties. Or perhaps it is that many would be alcoholics have turned to methamphetamines and crack cocaine instead.

  • Comment number 8.

    This was one of the most compelling and honest programmes of the year so far. I've been sober for nearly five years and Dying For A Drink touched on a lot of issues close to me. Cheers William!

  • Comment number 9.

    As someone who is addicted to chocolate I strongly sympathise with anyone trying to give up either alcohol or cigarettes.

    Just like the guy who appeared on the Gerry Kelly show some years ago, I have a beer belly without touching a drop of beer, believe it or not !!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Peter- I share your chocolate addiction, to the extent that when friends or family visit me here in the US from the UK I insist that they bring me as much Cadbury's as they can fit in their luggage. It's a vice. But it's not a bad vice, as vices go.

    Griswold- Agree that this was a fantastic documentary and made me think about it (I blogged a few thoughts on it here - ok PTL?).

  • Comment number 11.

    By the way - and William may not even know this - I lived in Hilltown until the age of 8. It was a surprise to see the town (as small as it is) on the documentary.

  • Comment number 12.

    The UK is sinking in a sea of booze-fuelled misery.
    Best to give it a miss.
    Of course this view won't go down too well with cherry sipping church liberals (who support the drinks industry).

  • Comment number 13.

    People have to remember that this was a personal account of one person and his relationship with alcohol. The point of the "CAGE" test I think made us all sit up and listen as we all / or most scored two. Its and addiction for some people but is everyone addicted aware they are?
    I found it very interesting and look forward to Thursday but! I am a fan of Mr Crawley and so my view could be tarnished.
    Also his shows on Folklore I missed and was wondering how to track copies of them down.

  • Comment number 14.

    your plans for BBC domination appear to have moved up a gear William!

    No sooner had you finished your pint on BBC1 you popped up on BBC2

    Interesting documentary but it covered such a broad area, it had a desperately light touch. any plans to dig a little deeper?

  • Comment number 15.

    At least church liberals are honest and up front about their cherry drinking Ian, as was C H Spurgeon about his drinking, now what about the SECRET drinkers within the fundamentalist ranks, that would be more of a cause for concern than drinking cherry sincerely, for some reason CarrickFergus comes to mind, Ian you are so full of the Free Pharisee leaven.

  • Comment number 16.

    Rev Hall

    So, the fundamentals of the faith boil down to (1) a literalist interpretation of Genesis 1 and (2) being tee-total.
    Anything else we might want to add to the list? Only using using Calvinist texts written in another century? Shouting a lot during our sermons?

    Some of us might want to include the Apostle's creed, justification by faith alone, that sort of thing. But I'm sure you're correct to focus on the big issues.

    Or are you just advertising a blog?


  • Comment number 17.


    Nice to see you back.
    I think being tee-total is a responsible Christian position, as is moderation. Abstinence from alcoholic drink can be seen as a protest; or perhaps a recognition of the dangers that mass production adds to taking alcohol.
    I'm not tee-total myself (perhaps two or three glasses per annum, so I guess to the Rev I'm a little liberal). What I reject is seeking refuge in a reactionary subculture. It may be comfortable there, but you can't justify it from scripture, as I think you also imply.


  • Comment number 18.

    Graham, you will recall the Wedding in Cana, where Jesus turned the water into Shloer. Cherry-flavoured, of course ;-)

  • Comment number 19.

    I watched the programme with much interest as it was partly shot on location in the area where I grew up and were I went to school with William’s brother and cousin.

    Though the subject matter of abusive drinking is a cause for concern for us all because of the impact it has on our society and the medical profession and the horrifying consequences that the fruit of abusive drinking produces that of violence, disease and social poverty.

    On William's, part there seems to have been a deeper side to the programme on a personal level, which was probably part of his motivation in making the programme, William, seems to have a reflective void in his life caused by the death of his father which has left him with unanswered questions, which has left a bareness in his life missing out on the father son relationship during his youth, this void is a common factor in alcohol abuse, the void is caused by a multitude of different circumstances and innocently people try to fill that emptiness by socialising around drink to try and fill that emptiness with social drinking and if the social drinking is not controlled then the drink takes over and takes control of the drinker instead and this seems to have been a problem in William's, case as he reflected that being in a social setting without drink was harder than the actual withdrawal symptoms of not having a drink for a month.

    By the way my liver enzymes are always elevated due glycogen storage disease and before I was diagnosed my then GP was convinced that I had a problem with drink because my liver function test always came back as abnormal.

    Drinking alcohol is not a sin because it is the sinner drinking the alcohol that is committing the sin because he becomes drunk by abusing a gift of God, now the Bible forbids drunkenness rather than just drinking.

    George Whitefield, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and C.S. Lewis and a host of Puritans are some of those Christians who use to have a tipple now and again.

  • Comment number 20.

    RevIanHall #12

    "The UK is sinking in a sea of booze-fuelled misery.
    Best to give it a miss.
    Of course this view won't go down too well with cherry sipping church liberals (who support the drinks industry).

    Clearly they need ministering to and the comfort that it brings. Why not consider it a personal opportunity and a challenge in this, their hour of need? A chance to put them back on the road that's straight and narrow. :-)

    Hmmm, doesn't Ireland have a rather long and well deserved reputation for a lot of alcoholic beverage drinking and intoxication? At least when they are drinking, they aren't out killing. Plotting yes, killing no. And just where would Irish poetry be without alcohol?

    We are dying Reverand, dying!

  • Comment number 21.

    I enjoyed the documentary, and yes, scored two on the CAGE test.

    Was surprised how difficult William found it not to drink - I've never been made to feel uncomfortable for not drinking. (Probably BBC personnel have a much more exciting and cosmoplitan lifestyle...)

    I could have watched a series on the subject - I'd like to understand why young people drink like they do.

    Disagreed with William's conclusions on alcoholism: I'm sure he's right that some alcoholics have stories, but I think others have just a physical reaction to the substance.

  • Comment number 22.

    Of course, now we know that Whitefield, Spurgeon, Wesley, Lewis, the Puritans, Luther and Calvin were all cherry sipping church liberals who supported the drinks industry. Which I suppose leaves some Protestants very little option but to join the Pioneers.

    In all seriousness, I think there is a very real danger that we turn the Gospel into an ethical lifestyle. What seems to matter to some Fundamentalists is that we reject the modern styles, whether of worship or living.
    Of course faith in Christ demands sacrifice and service; faith defined as a dependency, a saving trust.
    But Fundamentalism is always throwing up boundary markers. Do we drink? Do we use modern tunes or instruments? What are our views on Geology? Have we compromised on ANY level with modernity? If so, we become suspect.
    This cannot be clearer when the issue of justification by faith comes up. I hold that we are "justified" by faith in Christ alone. To listen to many fundamentalist friends, one would think that we were justified by faith in the doctrine, not the person.
    It does not matter if someone clearly depends on Christ for - well for everything, really, from salvation to wisdom. If they don't sign up to Protestant doctrinal statements, they're probably damned. Which puts everyone before Luther in something of a jam.

    A bit of a rant there, I know. But I think that Fundamentalism can obscure the need for "saving trust" in Christ every bit as much as the traditions they rail against. Instead of Christ, and his sacrifice, suffering and resurrection, we get an old time Gospel hour which promises to take us back in time to an Ulster that never really existed.


  • Comment number 23.

    Oh, and before the lynch mob forms, I'm pretty much committed to the Westminster Confession. Baptism aside.


  • Comment number 24.

    Puritan, it's always dangerous when you try to analyse another person's soul. In the case of William, you've taken information about him and come up with a void in his life (which, no doubt, you think would be filled by your fundamentalist religion). It might be better if you withheld your judgement on William's life, that at least would be respectful. It says a lot about fundamentalism that you assume that deep questioning must mean that someone has an emptiness in their life. I could try to come up with a complex word to describe your analysis, but the word 'nonsense' is probably appropriate.

  • Comment number 25.

    I haven't managed to view the programme yet - the iplayer is playing up - but I assumed that Will had said something about his youth on the show. If not, maybe best not to speculate.
    I don't know that Puritan is a fundamentalist - you can like the Puritans and the KJV without making a lifestyle or subculture out of them.

    I think Augustine has unintentionally underlined my concern (I don't think you had my post in mind when you typed Gus). The danger for fundamentalism is that a subculture or lifestyle is offered to fill the void, instead of Christ, who is is and what he has done.
    I think a problem for evangelicals is that we assume that everyone feels a void in their life. Some folk do, but most don't.


  • Comment number 26.

    G Veale- I'd encourage you to think about the logic of teetotalism as a "protest" against a binge-drinking culture. I realize you don't agree with Ian Hall on this, but the criticisms are the same:

    Rev Ian Hall- To claim that alcohol itself is the problem with drunkenness is like claiming that prescription drugs are the problem when people abuse them, or that cars are the problem when people drive them recklessly. You're throwing the baby out with the bath water. There's a way to drink responsibly, and you're being unrealistic if you expect everybody to be teetotal.

    Puritan- I'm unsure about some of your Freudian analysis, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that you dissent from many of your fellow theological conservatives like Rev Hall! I have to be honest and admit that I expected you to be a zero-tolerance teetotaler.

    Jen Erik- I've never found it difficult to be around others who are drinking alcohol when I'm only drinking Coke, but it's true that some people consciously put pressure on others to drink alcohol, for whatever reason. I don't get it. All drinks are equal in my mind....


  • Comment number 27.


    "All drinks are equal" is the sort of egalitarian sentiment I would normally applaud - but I do rather make an exception for drink - as a like-minded friend once remarked, a good bottle of Meursault can change your life...

  • Comment number 28.

    Ah, well I certainly don't mean they all taste as good as each other. I do like a good glass of Coke, iced down in a big ol' glass, maybe with some rum (if you're ever in Las Vegas, head to RumJungle for dinner; it has the largest collection of rum in the world and the 'Fire Pit' dinner is great. Later it turns into a hoppin' nightclub replete with hot chicks dancing in cages. Expect to spend a few hundred bucks). As for wine, Badel Slivovitz rules.

  • Comment number 29.

    I fully realise that this could simply be a crazy thing to say...but...it didn't take long for a thread on alcohol to raise the issue of religion. It's almost as if in this society that one is the antithesis of the other, and I expect that to some degree one's attitude to religion will affect on one's attitude to alcohol. So with that in mind, could it be that one of the reasons for our society's extremist attitude to alcohol, whether for or against, is in some way related to the problems of finger-pointing judgementalism on the one hand and an over-reaction against this on the other?

    Just a thought.

    From my own perspective, I would have thought that pleasure, taste and enjoyment should be the primary motivations for drinking, whether one is drinking alcohol or not.

  • Comment number 30.

    The authorities in the Republic are introducing on the spot fines for public drunkeness.


    Should the same thing be introduced north of the border?

  • Comment number 31.

    Judging by the venomous personal abuse that has been aimed in my direction by some of the contributors to this post, I would suggest that my prediction that pro-boozing church liberals would not be happy with my view has been proved correct.
    Unlike them I do not support an industry which supplies a drug which destroys the lives of countless millions worldwide.

  • Comment number 32.


    Since I haven't seen you post here before, I just wanted to reassure you that I for one am not among the pro-boozing church liberals. I am a lifelong atheist conservative who thinks that it is virtually impossible when drunk to shoot straight. I mean how do you fight a war to win when you are always sloshed?

  • Comment number 33.

    I went to the store and bought 50 oranges. Then when I got home, I stood on a chair with my eyes shut, I had my friend hand them to me one by one, and I dropped them on the floor. I figured it would take about a billion years for them to line up in ten rows of five but wouldn't you know it, on the seventh try I opened my eyes and much to my astonishment, lo and behold there they were, ten neatly arranged rows of five oranges perfectly in order. Reverend Ian, do you think my friend was fed up with wasting his time helping me with my experiment and had someone play a little trick on me or do you think it really just happened that way by chance? BTW, what the hell am I supposed to do with fifty dented slightly mushy oranges? I certainly don't want to eat them, they've been all over the floor. Perhaps I'll donate them to the starving poor. know any churches in my neighborhood that would take them?

    #3-> scoffer

  • Comment number 34.

    Ian Hall- Nice dodge. If you don't have a response, just say so.

  • Comment number 35.

    Now I'll note very briefly that the Rev Hall runs a "dictatorship" on his blog, so I'd like him to let us know if there is any point in visiting it if he will censor any criticism of his views.
    I'd also like anyone - anyone at all - to point out to me (a) when my comments became venomous and personal (b) when I began to support the drugs industry and (c) if the Rev Hall finds the Puritan and me too liberal (and I'm pretty sure ,Puritan, that you'd agree that your views would be even more conservative than mine) what on earth is his definition of a conservative?

    I'll post this message on his blog, and see where we go from there.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Ian

    Just for the sake of clarity, my post 29 was not a venomous personal attack. It wasn't even a personal attack, and I didn't happen to read any of the other comments as personal either. I'm interested in the phrase 'pro-boozing liberals' however.

    Do you mean to imply that all christians who are 'pro-booze' are theologically liberal, or can conservatives be 'pro-booze'.

    By 'pro-booze' do you mean that all drinking is wrong, or might one drink a little for the sake of one's stomach?

    Do you approve of alcohol in cooking?

    And just out of curiosity how would you interpret the account of the miracle at Cana? (Christologically and practically)

  • Comment number 37.

    I take it you went to the website? Oh dear.
    I have to admit that the argument to Theism from bananas and coke bottles does seem a bit weak.
    Well,very weak.
    Okay, it borders on dementia.
    But, you've got to admit, it's novel.

    I'm utterly gobsmacked by it.


  • Comment number 38.

    Does it actually go over the border, and far, far into dementia?
    I'm still deciding.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think you've spotted a few flaws in the Revs design argument.

    I'm still in a state of shock.


  • Comment number 40.

    William did not ask Andy McIntosh my question about which chemical bond in the spontaneous formation of DNA from its constitutents was the one which violated the second law of thermodynamics. I'd like him to ask McIntosh that question one day and also why is it that the spontaneous formation of DNA from its constituent atoms violates the second law of thermodynamics but the formation of DNA in living cells or in a laboratory does not? Anyone who knows the second law of thermodynamics knows it is about "end states" which means comparing entropy at the beginning and the end of a process. No matter how DNA is formed, it is at a lower entropy state than its constituents were before it was formed....and the universe as a whole is at a higher entropy state. That is what the the second law of thermodynamics is about. And there are lots of processes in nature justl like it, where parts of the universe undergo processes that reduce their entropy at the expense of increasing it to a greater degree somewhere else. One of them is the formation of ice crystals and snow from water.

    These religious pseudoscientists are pathetic. Only those not technically trained don't understand just how incompetent that actually are.

  • Comment number 41.

    RE: The argument from the banana


    I see you've noticed the argument from the design of the banana, as outlined on Rev. Ian Hall's blog. Very good. It's also outlined on YouTube HERE, and it doesn't get any better. I thought I would offer my response to the argument, since I have an hour to kill in the middle of my workday and, frankly, it's too much fun to ignore. As asserted on Hall's site, we should note that the banana has the following properties:

    "Is shaped for human hand, has non-slip surface, has outward indicators of inward content, has a tab for removal of wrapper, is perforated on wrapper, bio-degradable wrapper, is shaped for human mouth, has a point at top for ease of entry, is pleasing to taste buds, is curved towards the face to make eating process easy."

    Given this argument, it logically follows that the pineapple (which is prickly), the corn on the cob (which gets stuck in the teeth), the watermelon (which is huge), and most other fruits and vegetables are NOT designed, because they are NOT shaped for the human hand, they may NOT have non-slip surfaces, do NOT have the properties of good wrappers, are NOT shaped for the human mouth, do NOT have a point at the top for ease of entry, and are NOT curved towards the face to make the eating process easy.

    Thus, if the argument from the design of the banana is true, then - on balance - almost nothing demonstrates having been designed.

    Perhaps THIS youtuber said it best.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hello petermorrow,

    The argument from bananas that John highlights is a golden oldie. Would you feel any guilt in joining the resident atheists here in pissing on their religion-gone-bananas? Come on, don't tell me that open derision and contempt for that would be cause for any guilt? If there are any beliefs that may be spat on as being utter mind excrement than surely this qualifies?

    Yours in the FSM, may noodles be upon Him,

  • Comment number 43.

    The problem with the banana argument is that if it is by deisgn the perfect food for humans it has one serious drawback. If you ate bananas and nothing else....you would die. It is the perfect lure to suicide. It lacks most of the essential nutrients necessary to sustain human life. But then what kind of argument would you expect from a pea brained ignoramus.

    Have a nice day Reverend.

  • Comment number 44.

    I should also mention the hilarious irony of the banana being the food stereotypically preferred by, of all the species, the monkey, the very animal those who use the argument from the banana say we have no relation to.

  • Comment number 45.

    You're right John, even Kent Hovind admits the logic:


  • Comment number 46.

    Hi PeterKlaver

    I have to say I'm not really sure what prompted your post 42, I had quite forgotten our previous exchanges about PZ Myers and burial grounds in Donegal until you jogged my memory.

    Can I laugh a Christianity and Christians - absolutely, maybe you read some of my comments regarding the 'gold dust' phenomena. Do I object to atheists laughing at Christianity - absolutely not; I think, if I remember correctly, our discussion about Myers concerned the limits of what we might or might not find acceptable. Anyway, and I think I said this before, I thought PZ Myers was supposed to be making a serious point, not participating in petty point scoring.

    However, to the pressing point; I had thought of replying to Graham earlier regarding this issue and indeed looked it up on Mr Hall's blog, but felt a reply wasn't worth the time or the effort. However, given your direct (and entirely unexpected) request for my point of view, my initial response to Graham's suggestions of dementia would simply have been - 'Dementia? No, just bananas'!

    Incidentally you will note that Graham is not an atheist and to the best of my knowledge neither is John Wright, who in post 41 says pretty much what needs to be said with regard to a fuller answer.

    Peter, there are all sorts of mad things in Christianity, and all sorts of mad Christians, in fact, if you wanted to loose a faith, sometimes a church would be the best place to go!

    Time for a night-cap I think!

  • Comment number 47.

    Peter Klaver #45- I love that clip, though my favorite part is later, when Ali G accuses him of failing to flush the backstage toilet before the show. It's pure COMEDY.

  • Comment number 48.



    Folk Song written By: Frank Silver and Irving Cohn (1923)

    There's a fruit store on our street
    It's run by a Greek.
    And he keeps good things to eat
    But you should hear him speak!

    When you ask him anything, he never answers "no".
    He just "yes"es you to death,
    And as he takes your dough, he tells you...

    "Yes! We have no bananas
    We have no bananas today!!
    We have string beans and onions, cabBAges and scallions
    And all kinds of fruit and say
    We have an old fashioned toMAHto
    A Long Island poTAHto, but

    Yes! We have no bananas
    We have no bananas today!"

    Business got so good for him that he wrote home today,
    "Send me Pete and Nick and Jim; I need help right away."
    When he got them in the store, there was fun, you bet.
    Someone asked for "sparrow grass"
    and then the whole quartet
    All answered:

    "Yes, we have no bananas
    We have-a no bananas today.
    Just try those coconuts
    Those wall-nuts and doughnuts
    There ain't many nuts like they.
    We'll sell you two kinds of red herring,
    Dark brown, and ball-bearing.
    But yes, we have no bananas
    We have no bananas today."

  • Comment number 49.

    Isn't that offensive to Greeks?

  • Comment number 50.

    MA2 - post # 20

    At least when they are drinking, they aren't out killing. Plotting yes, killing no.

    Not strictly speaking true - drink has, on occasion, added to the horrors of the conflict - I am particularly reminded of the torture and murder of Margaret Wright in the 'Bad Bet', a loyalist drinking-den in Meridi Street, in 1994. Hers is a central voice in Brian Lynch's compelling poem 'Pity for the Wicked' - a must read work for anyone interested in the impact of 40 years of violence in the statelet.

  • Comment number 51.

    John wright

    I think the argument from the banana can be saved.
    1) You misunderstand and dismisunderestimate the nature and irradicable complexicity of the pineapple. As anyone who read war comics knows, they were designed as weapons for throwing at Germans.
    2) Corn on the cob teaches us to use knives and forks, and gave the human race table manners.
    3) The watermelon is the work of the Devil

    Furthermore the argument can be improved,
    1) Meat not only comes neatly packaged in cows, but the packaging will actually follow you home. This reduces the need for plastic bags, so it is environmentally friendly.
    2) Cats are not only wonderful companions for the elderly - my students have pointed out that they are ideally shaped for all sorts of amusing games. In fact, they come with a slot for a firecracker!
    3) The frogs throat, my students tell me, is just the right width for a straw. Which makes the conditions for inflating a frog ideal. I'm working on the probability conditions as we speak.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 52.

    gveale, you are forgetting or ignoring the orange drops. Now I'm not saying orange drops aren't important but.....I'm a lemon drop man myself. Especially the hard sour ones like Regal Crown made, the kind they sold in a roll. Haven't seen them in awhile. :-)

  • Comment number 53.

    I missed the oranges. They seemed to have been dropped into a box in the illustration. That might account for the neat rows - a "boundary condition" if you like.


  • Comment number 54.

    gveale, revisit I Am Hell's site and you will see his hypothesis about the oranges. BTW, one more reason the DNA argument by MacIntosh and his followers is so stupid, DNA is made up of only four sugars in different combinations of arranged pairs and they only pair up in two ways, a 747 is made up of millions of entirely different parts. What's more, the entropy of a 747 is undoubtedly far far lower than the entropy of a single strand of DNA, lower may many orders of magnitude. That is why the time required for a 747 to spontaneously assemble itself is so much greater than for a strand of DNA. Still, it took at least a billion years for DNA to occur as the result of natural processes on earth. Once the necessary conditions are better understood and they are determined to have been present in the earth's early history, it will IMO become evident that life not at all an unusual phenomenon and will be found in many parts of the universe...if we can ever figure out how to get there.

  • Comment number 55.

    Having problems with posting this is just a test post

  • Comment number 56.

    Will is that a fake pint?

    It looks like it should have spilled.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mgnbar- Looks like is the operative. You see, your hypothesis assumes that the camera was level, and that William was holding his head level. In fact the camera and head may easily have been tilted in the other direction, the pint therefore is the only thing in the picture that is level.


  • Comment number 58.

    Mgnbar: I can confirm that it was a real pint. The photographer placed a small light under the base, hence the lighting effects. Then I held it to my held in various poses until he told me I could stop and go catch my plane at the airport (we had all of 30 mins to do the shoot).

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm confused (not for the first time in my life) but when I tuned in Thursday it was the same show as Monday. The BBC had said that Thursday continued from Monday, 2nd part.
    No matter, A Queer Try on BBC 1 was also changed and so had no choice but to read a book, help lighten the pile I have been building. :)

  • Comment number 60.

    So, what do we learn from our little drinking poll? Of those who drink alcohol regularly, almost 6 times fewer people here say they never drink it to excess. It seems that if you drink regularly, you are much more likely to drink "sometimes to excess." Almost half of respondents drink either very lightly or not at all. One of the themes in the documentary was examining the extremes of teetotalism and alcoholism. On our poll at least, there are more teetotalers than alcoholics (more than 3 times the number). Or perhaps alcoholics are less likely to admit that that's what they are, while teetotalers are generally proud that they are?


  • Comment number 61.

    Glad to hear that you’re back from rehab William, --LOL-- and are back on the radio again, missed hearing you for the past couple of weeks. Welcome back!

  • Comment number 62.

    Thanks Puritan! Glad to be back.

  • Comment number 63.

    Can the physicists who post tell us if that beer is defying the laws of nature?

    Do we have photographic evidence of a miracle?

  • Comment number 64.

    And why does Will look as if he's about to launch into a speech from Hamlet?

  • Comment number 65.

    Hi Everyone
    I have not posted here for a while but I thought I would put in my two bits about last nights programme Dying for a Drink and a visit to Craigavon Hospital.
    ( what I am about to say is in no way running down Craigavon Hospital in fact I have nothing but praise for them
    but it about the system we have here in NI.
    Well done William I thought the programme was great and well thought out.
    My thoughts are that here in NI the problem with alcohol and its abuse is badly neglected. I have just come home from visiting a friend in Hospital where he has ended up due to drink. He has spent the last 3 weeks drinking 2/3 bottles of whiskey a day. He is highly intelligent has plenty of money has a lovely house and children but can not overcome the evil drink. He ended up seeing things; spending large amounts of money and being verbally abusive to his family and friends.
    Here is the problem:
    When he asked could he be moved to a special unit to seek further help they told him that no beds were available anywhere and did not know when if ever there would be a place for him.
    When we look at our A&E Units every weekend they are full of drunken people.
    Why is more money not spent on prevention and education and more units opened up for people who genuinely want help? Why is it not talked about more in Schools?
    Before some may say it is their own fault remember this:
    They did not start out wanting to be an alcoholic. They live for drink. They will do anything to get it.
    I think it is an awful illness and the frightening thing is it could be you or me next if we are not careful.


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