Tuesday, August 16, 2005


On Alcohol

This is the best article on the new licensing laws that I've read. The apparently continual bemusement by Britain's political class to those of her citizens who go out to get drunk would be amusing to watch if they didn't have the power to spoil it.

The truth about drinking is that it's only a problem because the media have made it into one. Simultaneously glamourising and demonising the so-called 'drinking culture' has made binge drinking both irresistible and inexcusable, and in my opinion, the media should take nearly all the blame for that. On the one hand, programmes like 'Club Reps' and such like make getting wasted seem like a necessary part of life, while news magazines and that ilk have whipped up a storm over a problem that doesn't exist. In my town, there were 25 pubs just sixty or seventy years ago. Today there are half that number. It is a little known fact that fewer people drink less alcohol than a hundred years ago, and although it's true, you wouldn't know it from television and newspaper coverage.

The government's plans are, to an extent, sensible enough. The licensing laws do need an overhaul, and to be honest, part of the reason people get so leathered is that, with pubs stopping serving at eleven, they only have a short amount of time to drink, and so react to that by drinking a lot very quickly. I know this because, unlike politicians, judges, chief constables and opinion writers in 'The Guardian', I actually go to the pub.

Further to that, doing the right thing for the wrong reason can sometimes be to do the wrong thing. I don't want a 'cafe bar culture' like France or Spain or Italy. If I did, I'd move to France or Spain or Italy.

With any luck, the new licensing laws won't do that. Just keep your fingers crossed.

Much of the blame for binge drinking has fallen upon the slender shoulders of the humble alcopop.

"Fewer people drink less alcohol than a hundred years ago."

After spending a while getting to grips with this (it's still early in Surrey), I'm still not sure if I've got the point of what you're driving at, possibly because of an ambiguity.

Are you saying more or less booze was consumed a hundred years ago? Or do I just need an eye-opener?
You're right, that sentence was poorly written. What I meant was that, basically, less alcohol, as an average, is consumed today than was consumed one hundred years ago.

Go for the eye-opener anyway - I could sure do with one.
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