We Brits do have a bit of a reputation to live down. Our Spanish teacher told us yesterday that the impression many Spaniards have is of a nation of fat drunks.
To be fair, the British press does paint a bad picture of binge drinkers and a visit to the English bars on the costas confirms that many of us are fond of a beer or two. However, we are hardly a nation of drunks and our teacher was pleased to find that we actually pursued hobbies other than drinking and that some actually work hard to keep themselves fit.
In Cataluña they have recognised the problem of excessive drinking and have banned the whole business of Happy Hours (two drinks for the price of one). Any bar or disco found flouting the ban faces a fine of between 3,000 and 600,000 Euros.
Although the ban only applies to the Cataluña region at the moment, experts predict that other areas will soon follow suit.
In fact this ban is not aimed specifically at Brits. It is the result of a study developed by Madrid-based distillers Diageo and the IESE Business School at Navarra University as part of their joint corporate responsibility strategy and calls special attention to the availability of alcohol to minors.
The report concludes that the traditional Mediterranean pattern of drinking is being abandoned while less moderate "Nordic patterns" are emerging. "The new consumption habit which is developing between Spanish youths, including minors," it says, "is characterised by alcohol consumption associated with leisure and weekend, times when large amounts of alcohol, especially distilled spirits, are drunk."