Work is the curse of the drinking classes

At last, it seems we are on the cusp of having sensible drinking hours in this country. We don’t need pubs to stay open 24 hours a day, and in 95% of cases I bet they won’t anyway. But how nice that we will be able to go for a meal, or watch a film, then go for a drink afterwards without it being snatched out of our hands by 11.20pm. We might even – shock! horror! – be able to meet up with friends later in the evening and not have proceedings cut short by drinking laws that treat us all like children.

And maybe, just maybe, over time this nation will be weened off the idea that you have to down drinks as quickly as possible before being thrown out onto the streets at exactly the same time as hundreds of other people, all competing for the same train seats, buses and taxis. It’s almost. . . civilised.

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Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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38 comments on “Work is the curse of the drinking classes
  1. Anonymous says:

    Spot on – and very stupid of the Tories to act as enemies of Liberty.

    DA

  2. ph says:

    You don’t actually belive the scenario that you paint … do you?

    This government has descended into madness, what with its anti smoking tirade combined with its encouragement of all day drunkeness.
    Joined-up goverment – never saw the light of day

  3. Citizen Sane says:

    For me and everyone that I socialise with, yes I do. Absolutely. And for the majority of people who like to go out and dictate the terms of their own social life. The pubs are open right now ph, but most of us manage to control ourselves.

    Binge drinking thugs and anti-social chavs can be locked up or choke to death on their own Sambuka flavoured vomit for all I care.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Anti smoking tirade” – a habit that affects others health

    “Encouragement of all day drunkeness” – when you have a drink is none of the government’s business – except if your behaviour impinges on other people’s enjoyment. Which there are already laws for, and even tougher ones on the way.

    PH, do you seriously think it is more liberal to allow the continued exposure of toxic fumes in a confined public place, yet not allow people to drink in a pub beyond 11.30 (just because *some* binge-drink and/or are anti-social because of it)?

    I think that’s madness

    DA

  5. Citizen Sane says:

    Does anyone fancy a pint?

  6. ph says:

    DW If you go and sit in a smokey pub that is your choice. If someone glasses you then it is not.
    Pissed people are responsible for huge amounts of crime, violence, mayhem and general misery – and the suffers are very often the sober. Cigarette smoke on the whole kills those that smoke.

    CS – You may well be a sensible drinker, but alas huge numbers of people are not. You say we should lock them up – ok but the prisons are full already, and I doubt the hand-wringing liberals of the UK would like to see more being built. You and DW are fantacists – I recommend you go to Croydon on a Friday night.

  7. ph says:

    Just another point

    DW – “do you seriously think it is more liberal to”. Please do not confuse me with a liberal, I am not. Liberalism encourages change, and change normally buggers things up.

  8. Laura says:

    Sweet Lord Above. Why does change frighten you? Do you think mankind should be the same as it was 40, 50, 80, 100 , 5000 years ago? When should we have stopped changing? When we discovered fire? Invented the wheel? Gave women the vote?

    PH, I’ve always been impressed with your arguments, though I have often not agreed with you. You are clearly an intelligent person and put thought behind your comments. But what you have just said about change frankly astounds me.

  9. Citizen Sane says:

    I’m not a fantasist. And I don’t need to go to Croydon to see what you are referring to. I live in south east London, only thirty metres from a pub that is licensed until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. A couple of years ago we would be woken up nearly every week at closing time: people shouting, fighting, occasionally ambulances and police. Somebody was stabbed on one occasion. It was awful. But it never happens anymore since they had a change of management who barred all the trash. Now it’s fine – people go there, drink later, then go home. I’ve even been in there myself and it’s OK.

    My point is, I have had experience of living near the sort of “horror pubs” that the Tories and some of the media are getting into a frenzy about, and they can be turned around through propoer management and policing. These new licensing laws are going to make it easier to prosecute trouble makers and to close down pubs that fail to control their customers.

    I’m prepared to take the chance. Attitudes to alcohol have to change in this country. This is the first step.

  10. Citizen Sane says:

    “liberalism encourages change”

    It does interest me how everyone seems to have their own interpretation of what “liberalism” means. It’s probably the most misappropriated ideology in existence.

    I feel a blog coming on. “What is liberalism anyway?”

  11. Anonymous says:

    I was just thinking about this documentary I saw a few days back (well a few minutes of it until the missus put coronation street on). It was about how there were no real limits on pub opening times before WWI, it wasn’t unusual for people to drop in on the way to work or to drink with their young children, largely due to the beer being cleaner than the water of the time. Happy days.

    This got me thinking that we should take on board PH’s and Laura’s comments. Go back to say 1910 abolish the vote for women, get drunk and ban change.

    Anyone second that?

    GB

  12. Anonymous says:

    Laura

    My comments about change were not entirely serious, but I am fed up of egotistical optimists changing things all the time, then telling us how wonderful things now are when they are clearly not.

  13. Anonymous says:

    GB

    Here are some family recollections of drinking in the age of pre licensing laws

    Some of the relationships to me I am not quite sure about so lets call them great uncles

    Uncle Jack. On a day trip to Blackpool the family went to the beach he went to the pub. He got so pissed he passed out in alley down the side of the pub. He was the run over my the dray man’s cart and killed.

    Uncle Walter. He was a drayman, and while pissed drove his dray into the river Irwell and drowned.

    As for my late grandma, when she was a child ever friday night the fathers down her street got pissed, came home beat their wives and chucked the kids onto the street. The kids would then traipse up to the local convent to be looked after by the nuns until the morning when it was safe to go home.

  14. ph says:

    sorry the previous anonymous was PH

  15. Laura says:

    Not sure I recall saying how wonderful anything is. I think many things are seriously crap at the moment, such as binge drinking and alcohol related crime and abuse. And if something is crap, why not try and change it?

  16. ph says:

    Laura,

    Yes there is a problem with binge drinking etc and change is surely required, but I seriously doubt that the proposed measures will help at all. But I bet if (and in my view when) the situation gets a lot worse the politicians who thought up this idea will say that yes we are wrong lets undo the changes.
    Maybe the changes will work, lets hope they do.

  17. Laura says:

    The way I see it is that it will definitely get worse once the laws are changed. And then things will get better, people attitudes to drink will change. You see drinking isn’t the problem. BINGE drinking is the problem. The current laws are the reason why binge drinking has become a phenomenon in this country. Having grown up in Belgium, the beer centre of Europe and where people can serve all day, I get a sense of what can be here. In Brussels, people go home for dinner after work, go and meet friend about 9 or 10 o’clock and stay out maybe until three or four. And they drink, certainly, but at a measured pace over longer periods of time. Binge drinking isn’t a problem in belgium BECAUSE no one feels pressured into cramming their socialising into four hours down the local.

  18. ph says:

    Stay out to 3 or 4 – how do they get to work the next day.
    Also I do not beleive the British will respond in the civilised way that you hope. Historically the British approach to alcohol is one of reckless drunkeness, with the occasional bouts of abstension when things got so bad they turned to God for help.
    Maybe you are correct but how long would you allow the experiment to continue before admitting defeat. 10, 20, 30 50 years.

  19. Laura says:

    Clearly I meant at weekends, PH. The Belgians aren’t some kind of weird aliens that can survive on four hours sleep a night… unlike thatcher.

    Ph, you’ve gone on and on about how this isn’t going to work but you’ve yet to put forward a viable solution of your own to the issues of binge drinking and alcohol related anti social behaviour. I’m genuinely interested in hearing about any alternatives.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Laura, Your comments about my negative griping are valid.
    However you and I have different opinions about why people binge drink. You believe it is because of the time constraints inflicted by licensing laws, and people find themselves in some kind of drinking race. I on the other hand believe that people binge drink because it removes their social inhibitions and they like the effect of the alcohol. That is why you believe that changing the drinking laws will have an effect.
    I do not think the licensing laws have anything to do with binge drinking. I use as my evidence the huge number of young women & men who binge drink. 20 years ago drunk man & women on the streets were a rarity, today they are a common sight – the licensing laws are the same today as they were 20 years ago.
    Of course there is nothing wrong with the effect of alchol on the inhibitions, but I think in the past there was stigma and shame to being so drunk you vomited your way down the High Street. Today people are more individualistic and have little care for the well being or opinion of others (the Fuck You society). As such they feel it is their right to get blind drunk and do not care that they make others live’s a misery. In short I do not think that there is a direct ‘cure’ for binge drinking as it is merely a symptom of human selfishness. You cannot cure binge drinking by fiddling around with parameters that have nothing to do with the cause. If you cannot cure it then the best you can do is mitigate its effects by restricting the drinking hours

  21. ph says:

    sorry again – previous post was ph

  22. Anonymous says:

    I find myself largely agreeing with CS and Laura on this one. I think varied licensing laws are the way forward. Where I live most of the pubs are open until 1am anyway (although most wont grant entry after 10.30), and I can honestly say the last time I saw a drink related fight was probably 3 years ago. Its also worth remembering that most pubs dont want to open 24 hours, in fact I believe there have only been a few hundred applicants nationwide. Most want to open until 12 during the week and 1 or 2 at the weekend, hardly the end of the world.

    That said, I agree with ph in that some people are just selfish and shameless. I think the drinks industry should try to make it unfashionable to get blind drunk i.e. a poster campaign showing one guy/girl lying in his/her own vomit and piss being laughted at, compared to another having a (less pissed) laugh with suitably sexy members of the opposite sex. This would be good for them by getting the government off their back and promoting their products in one go.

    GB

  23. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s a class thing. As was pointed out on Question Time last night, middle class drinkers quoffing wine with their tapas until 1 is a different kettle of fish from factory workers downing fishbowls and then proceeding to fight and fuck in Bolton town centre.

  24. Laura says:

    You have some absolutely valid points about selfishness and vomit covered streets, but I personally think that’s a question of education and upbringing and GB’s poster campaign and other related activity in the classrooms etc seems incredibly sensible. You still haven’t put forward a viable alternative, unless you meant further restrictions, in which case I feel that that will just exacerbate (sp?) the problem.

    Lastly I disagree with the issue of class raised by anon. I’ve seen plenty of public school boys behave just as badly as your so-called factory workers from Bolton.

    Either way, I guess time will tell.

  25. ph says:

    Laura,

    I do not have a viable alternative. You mention education. Using the established arenas of education to change people’s ‘values’ has not been a great success. But there have been areas where peoples attitudes have changed. Good examples are peoples views on racism and homophobia. In these cases it was not really the classrooms that caused the change, it was espousal of anti-racist and anti-homophobic vaules by figures of popular culture. Maybe when comedians start taking the piss out of our city centre low life (pun intended) things may change.
    But putting my pessimists hat on the city centre low-life are prabably still racist and homophobic any way, and it was only the middle classes who’s views changed.

  26. DW says:

    Ph Can’t deny smoking is bad and have never fought anti smoking measures even thouhg I believe it is a right.

  27. Hobbzee says:

    Mmmmm. This is a very interesting and multi-faceted debate that’s for sure and to be honest I don’t think the answer IS clear cut. Overall I am definitely in favour of relaxing the licensing laws because as responsible adults I think we should be able to make the ‘shall I stay up past my bedtime for another drink’ decision ourselves, rather than having the government make the decision for us and treating people like children.

    On the other hand I do think that we are unlike our European friends in that they have what I would describe as a ‘sophisticated’ attitude to alcohol consumption in comparison to the Britishl which is anything but sophisticated. I do think whoever said “my name is Great Britain and I’m an alcoholic” hit the nail on the head, hence the binge drinking and antis-social problems that society now faces.

    However, this does not mean that I don’t think we shouldn’t relax the licensing laws for fear of not knowing what the outcome of changing them will be. But I do think this ‘experiment’ should be viewed as such, and that’s what it is as far as I’m concerned, a social experiment with no one really able to predict the outcomes. So I think a fair degree of caution and a ‘lets wait and see’ attitude is best rather than a black and white ‘relaxing the drinking laws will solve all the excessive drinking problems we have in this country’. Because as much as I’d like to believe that, I just can’t see it happening…

    But as I say, fear of the unknown outcome should not become the reason not to introduce this change. After all change is what helps a society to evolve. I just hope that the price we pay for it all isn’t too high…

  28. ph says:

    If this is seen as an experiment then that is fine. But if the relaxation of the licensing laws is seen as a mistake do you really think that the present government will admit this?. Also, who actually wanted a change in the law?. I am sure the change was well down on voters priority list. I think, as usual, the government was persuaded by big business and the possibility of a big rise in tax receipts. What does Gordon do with all that money?

  29. Hobbzee says:

    Well, I’m not sure if the government would admit to it if it all went wrong. I suppose it would depend on what actually happened as a result of changing the law… – have got a good idea of what could go wrong – i.e. the current number of street brawls and A&E admittals doubling…. But I do seem to remember there was some back-tracking regarding the down-grading of cannabis when the government suddenly thought ‘shit, what have we done’. But as of yet I don’t think the rules on that have changed…

    and yes of course the drinks industry I’m sure initiated this whole debate by getting it put on the political agenda and Gordon gets his taxes etc so they’re all happy…personally I’d like to see the drinks industry take a far bigger responsibility for the problems that exist today as a result of excessive drinking especially regarding the pressure on A&E departments dealing with drunk people’s injuries every weekend… Maybe they could sponsor an A&E department or a ward in every hospital just to try and even up the balance a bit?!

    But no, I do take your point that the government would be unlikely to turn back if things really did go tits up…not sure what it would take to get a u-turn? How bad would the problems have to be?

  30. Anonymous says:

    PH, I seem to remember that in the 1997 election (or maybe the one after that) Labour were texting young people at about 11pm saying something along the lines of “cdnt give a xxxx 4 lst ordrs”, “vote labour on thrsdy 4 xtra time” so it has been on the agenda for quite a while. I was always alot more interested in this policy than say banning hunting which took up weeks of parlimentary time.

    As it is, now that they have got round to doing it I’m getting a little old for drinking until 3am! Still, it will be nice to be treated like an adult.

    GB

  31. ph says:

    So they never bothered to tell the ‘old’ and those without mobiles. A secret between Tony and the chosen ones – the pioneers of Cool Britannia.

  32. Laura says:

    Oh sweet jesus, now we’re just being stupid.

    I don’t expect they’ll shout from the roof tops if they’re wrong, but to be fair, which government in their right mind would do that?

    And as for Tony Blair and the chosen ones. Now you’re just being paranoid! And no! I’m not a labour voter!

  33. ph says:

    Laura,

    Firstly I don’t expect them to shout it from the roof tops, but it would be nice for them to say that maybe the bloke who sells the drink was wrong and the police, doctors, councils, Lib Dems, Tories, alcohol abuse charities, local residents etc etc may have had a point.

    Secondly – bet you are!!

  34. Citizen Sane says:

    She isn’t.

    Anyway, tonight is judgement night. Will the fabric of society withstand the horror of pubs staying open an hour or two extra or will Satan himself rise and enslave us all now that our decadence knows no bounds?

    The tension is palpable!

  35. ph says:

    C.S.

    In the quiet privacy of the polling booth who knows what people do.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Its 07.57am. Thursday. The pubs are open. What the hell am I doing at work!

    Anyone for a pint?

    GB

  37. Citizen Sane says:

    Yay! To the pub at once!

  38. The Realist says:

    Mine’s a pint.

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