Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Booze Britannia

The moral panic continues

On the radio this morning there was the usual waffle about the extension of licensing laws. The BBC still insist on call it “24 hour drinking” which sounds scarier than “1 extra hour of supping” which is what happens in most cases. I was shocked by (I think) James Naughtie vehemence in questioning the minster defending the recent policy it was the sort of grilling that should be reserved for dirty hospitals or the war in Ira. The media seems to think that we all are against relaxing the drinking laws, the tidal boor of booze Britain stories is ongoing. We get the myth of continental drinking pushed all the time when in reality the French have high levels of liver cirrhosis and drink driving deaths and provincial Italian towns are just dull.

Happy Hours?
Also the extension of drinking times isn’t the problem it’s not the last shot people are having at 1 am that’s the problem it’s the fact that people had 8 shots before 8 pm that’s the problem. Also we have continental licensing laws but our town centre pubs are still grim packed drinking sheds. Aside from a general northern European love of getting smashed, if we had more pleasant pubs/bars we might just enjoy company over drink. But more seats will need table service; in order to talk sat down they need to turn the bloody music down, simple snacky local food would be good. We will also need a mix of good quality late night places and also spread them out. A few more late licences for smaller local pubs, if you spread people there is less confrontation people can walk home rather wait for cabs and night buses.

You can't give booze to baby
Also is there a way of lowering the age to ease kids into drinking (if they want to)? Provide more underage gigs and clubs. Kids want excitement like everyone else and sure they have to learn to occupy themselves but many kids feel forced to grow up too quickly so easing them into stuff with gigs etc could be a way forward. In America Christian rock is big for partly this reason in that they have huge fan base of kids up to 21 years old who can’t drink but want a good time and because the god botherers play sport halls etc that don’t have drink licences the kids can get in. Wouldn’t it be better that kids got to see and hear real rock, pop and dance.

The Media : Bitter hatred
Oh and as usual the picture used to illustrate the story on the BBC website is a pint bitter, it’s probably because Alco pops are drunk from branded bottles so can’t be shown for fear of accusing Smirnoff of pushing foul sickly violence inducing additive laced poison, wine can’t be shown because the editor of Today drinks wine so that’s aspirational so bitter get’s it in the neck although real drinkers account for tiny percentage of the alcohol infused crime.

Ps the Guardian in G2 has a long article on wine again this from a paper with at least 2 weekly wine columns and a food magazine that has 1-2 stories a month about grape juice, but rarely covers any of Britains 400 plus small beer makers, we really do have strange relationship with drink in Britain.

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