Wednesday 22 February 2012

I don’t know where to start with this article, from the BBC, 10 Radical Solutions to Binge Drinking.

I can certainly agree with the fact that there are ten of them. I am not so sure where the radical comes in; if we are being literal and observing semantics then changes to the way something is done is radical, however such a correct and historical use of the word is not in keeping with much of BBC’s online journalism.

1. Subtly make drinks weaker

Reducing the percentahge of premium lagers? Isn’t that just making them regular lagers? Taxing stronger lagers more than weaker lagers? Isn’t that just punishing people who like a nice foreign beer, with a decent percentage, and can handle themselves? Am I just looking out for number one here? And why am I asking so many questions?

2. Enforce a minimum price for alcohol

See out of all the arguments for controlling people’s drinking this is the one that irks at me – on a couple of levels. One, are we saying it is ok for those who earn more/have to drink as they want and to excess if they feel? And, two, do people really drink more/less because of money? Money has not been the reason for me not having one more pint for a long time now. In fact I would have to go back to being 17 and being at college. I didn’t have a part-time job and didn’t really have anything other than  £10 a week pocket money, off my ma, and a couple of quid here and there from going without lunches was all I had to have a drink with. I would sit in Wetherspoons in Ashton with my friend Tom and drink Younger’s Scotch Bitter at 97p a pint – until I ran out of money (ultimately being sick on a bus). Since those crazy days a combination of the overdraft facility of HSBC, the Student Loans Company and, later, gainful employment have meant only being boozed out of my tree or being somewhere where there was no booze have stopped me having booze.

So, stop punishing the poor with this strategy.

3. Get People Back into Pubs

Ridiculous. “One of the traditional roles of the pub landlord is to tell a drinker when they’ve had enough. No such authority figure exists in people’s living rooms,” says the article. Ridiculous. I don’t want to be seen to be having a go at Tom De Castella here, but has he ever been in a pub? And let’s be clear here – I am not suggesting he is completely wrong with the opening clause, traditionally there is this role to a landlord. However, it’s hardly something I have seen that much of in my life whereas I have seen (and been) hideously drunk people being served by landlords. As for living rooms, I think there are people in a lot of people’s lives – specifically living rooms – who are more able to tell someone to stop someone drinking than someone in a pub.

4.  Raise The Legal Drinking Age

Well…18 being the limit really works now doesn’t it? And how does this stop people drinking binge-rly after whatever limit has been imposed?

5. Nationalise Off-Licenses

Tom De Castella himself recognises that there is a simple way round this one: stockpiling.

6. Discourage Rounds

Well rounds are what keep me drinking at a sensible rate at times. So if Tom De Castella is trying to KILL me by proposing this then so be it – but I will say this, Tom De Castella – you are making a very unpowerful enemy.

On Saturday night I was out with my friend Tom, who drinks the first 9/10ths of the pint ahead of his round at a quickish pace but then drinks the last one tenth over about four weeks. Had we not been in rounds I would have had about four extra pints on Saturday. But thanks to the rounds system we entered into as 17-year-olds when we started drinking I had to sit and wait for Tom to finish his pint – sittting, waiting and thinking about smashing his fucking head open with my EMPTY pint pot. Maybe Tom De Castella has a point.

7. Ban Alcohol Marketing

No-one drinks because of alcohol marketing. They might TRY something because of marketing; they are drinking to get drunk. People certainly don’t binge drink because of those Fosters ads where them two lads say something dead funny to Holly Valance.

8. Target Middle-Class Professionals

I am not entirely sure what Tom De Castella is saying here. Target them to drink more? Or less?

9. Not in front of The Children

Well I can’t really argue with this one. Though when I was growing up seeing my dad wrecked all the time/disappearing on pissfests made me hate drinking and its effects. Until I started drinking then I was ok with it.

10. Stop Exagerrating the Problem

Make your mind up Tom De Castella. You are the one writing a bloody article about it. If anything these stats seem to suggest we should all be upping our game, we’re not even in the top 10% of drinking nations in Europe, GREAT Britain? Don’t make me laugh.

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