10 Feb /15



The word binge is used a lot these days. Often associated with alcohol, reports on binge-drinkers causing havoc for the police and health services on the weekends are never out of the headlines for long. But apparently this phenomenon is nothing new. In 1854, binge made it into the Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases written and compiled by the historian and illustrator Anne Elizabeth Baker (1786-1861). Her definition is as follows: “A man goes to the alehouse to get a good binge, or to binge himself”.

So it seems that the Brits have been over-indulging on alcohol far longer than the National Health Service has been around to deal with the ugly after-effects.

These days, the word binge is not only associated with heavy drinking, but with food, also. We live in a society where there is an over-abundance of food – especially of the low-quality, high-calorie kind.

In Greek mythology, King Midas was the personification of greed. He wished that everything he touched could turn to gold, but soon realized that he was unable to eat, drink or lead a normal life and so begged the god Dionysus to lift the curse. A modern day King Midas would probably wish everything he touched turned into irresistible donuts and would then beg the gods to free him of the curse so he could lose some weight and lead a normal life. The number of people in the UK suffering from binge-eating disorder is growing – and so the National Health Service, like a kind of Dionysus, finds itself with people knocking at its door, begging for the curse to be lifted.

On a more light-hearted note, the final type of binging which is currently taking hold is binge-watching. TV shows coming out of America in recent years have given rise to this phenomenon with thrilling storylines across 12 or more episodes per season and cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Instead of traditional “once-a-week” style viewing, people are getting the DVD or streamlining content to their iPads so they can watch multiple episodes in a row. Even Hilary Clinton has admitted that her and her husband are “binge-viewers” of the hit show House of Cards.

It seems, then, that we are a world of bingers. If that’s the case, when the weekend comes around, why not curl up on the sofa in front of your favorite TV show with a bottle of wine, some chocolates, crisps and cakes and binge away.