« No, Didn't See That One Coming | Main | St. Bobby Kennedy »

June 23, 2007

Bugger Off M'am

It would be a Scot, wouldn't it?

Dr Sally Winning, a psychiatrist and chairman of the BMA Scottish staff and associate specialists committee, said: "We don't want youngsters drinking on street corners."

There's a strand of social thought up there amongst the kilt-eaters and haggis wearers that is still very Puritan. That dreadful affliction caused by the fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

You might not want to have youngsters drinking on street corners but it's a very long way from your prejudices to "we".

A national ban on drinking in the street should be introduced to help defeat the binge-drinking culture, senior doctors will say next week.

Do these people never actually raise their eyes from their mutual bansturbation to look at the world around them? Does frotting over the micro-management of society cause such blindness?

Where is public drinking of alcohol most prevalent? France, Italy, the Mediterranean countries perhaps? Which countries have the fewest problems over binge drinking? Could it be those same countries?

Where is it illegal to drink in the street? The US: the centre of New Orleans is the only pace where you can wander down the street with a beer in your hand. Where is there are serious problem with binge drinking? Yes, you guessed it. It might not show up in the general statistics because many Americans don't drink at all, but those who do drink heavily.

Concerning the US, you know what that ban on drinking in public actually leads to, don't you? Sitting on the beach, or in a national park, having a picnic, with a bottle of wine, is a criminal offense. Someone seriously wants to introduce this into the UK?

And there I was thinking that you had to be bright to be a doctor.

June 23, 2007 in Food and Drink | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2d3e53ef00e009853d588833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bugger Off M'am:

» The BritMeds 2007 (25) from Trusted.MD Network
Lean Health Care. A man with a beard and funny teeth explains how to make the NHS quicker and cheaper [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 23, 2007 2:07:26 PM

Comments

"Sitting on the beach, or in a national park, having a picnic, with a bottle of wine, is a criminal offense."

Canada too. My friends and I had to decant some wine into plastic beakers and make out it was "apple juice" in order to drink a glass of wine at our summer barbecue in the park.

Fucking puritans. It's almost enough to turn one Catholic.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 9:18:05 AM

"There are already restrictions on drinking in the street in some parts of the country after councils were given powers in 2001 to designate public areas in which it is an offence to consume alcohol if asked not to do so by a police officer.

The BMA motion calls for total national prohibition."

So, there is scope for this, if the local authority deems it necessary.

But that isn't enough for these people, they want the decision taken out of local hands.

I wonder which party they vote for....?

Posted by: JuliaM | Jun 23, 2007 9:55:10 AM

"Dr Christopher Spencer Jones, the chairman of the BMA's public health committee, said yesterday: "Drinking alcohol in public gives a message that it is just as normal as any other drink. It is not....It can lead people to drive dangerously, have sex without a condom leading to unwanted pregnancies and make someone punch somebody and land them in court.

"We should stop having alcohol for sale in supermarkets alongside foodstuffs. If you had different doors and cash desks for alcohol in supermarkets, you would be signalling alcohol is not a safe foodstuff."

Is this idiot for real...? He seriously expects all supermarkets to rework their entire floorspace, to suit his own prejudices...

If he & his gang of cronies get their way on this (highly unlikely, but it won't stop them pontificating), how long before fatty foods and dairy products join alcohol in these 'different doors and cash desks'?

Posted by: JuliaM | Jun 23, 2007 9:59:08 AM

"If he & his gang of cronies get their way on this (highly unlikely, but it won't stop them pontificating)"

What do you mean "highly unlikely"? Any historian will tell you this is exactly the febrile atmosphere that led to Prohibition. Did you think a complete ban on smoking was "highly unlikely"? A ban on alcohol advertising on TV is "highly unlikely"? If they can ban the advertising of honey on TV during the hours that children are watching then they can force the supermarkets to sell alcohol according to their rules.

The Labour movement grew, in part, from the Temperance movement. It's in their DNA to cajole and bully the rest of us.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 10:12:46 AM

If smokers aren't allowed to smoke in public, isn't it only equitable that drinkers shouldn't be permitted to drink in public?

"Britain will be gripped by a liver disease epidemic within 15 years because of drinking, doctors will say on TV tonight. Experts tested the health of livers of 70 daytime passers-by at mobile clinics in London and Birmingham for a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation. Half had liver damage caused by alcohol consumption."
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article1945794.ece

Think of the burgeoning extra cost to the NHS treating that cirrhosis epidemic which taxpayers will have to pay for.

"Total recorded alcohol consumption in the UK is estimated to have doubled between 1960 and 2002. . . The researchers . . found steady increases in death rates in Scotland, England and Wales during the 1970s. This accelerated in the 1980s, and again from the nineties onwards. In contrast, death rates for both men and women in other European countries declined by 20% to 30% from the early 1970s. Between the periods 1987-1991, and 1997-2001, male deaths from cirrhosis in Scotland more than doubled, and in England and Wales they rose by over two-thirds."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4581530.stm

No wonder public spending on healthcare per head of population in Scotland is so much higher.

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 10:19:57 AM

"If smokers aren't allowed to smoke in public, isn't it only equitable that drinkers shouldn't be permitted to drink in public?"

Because sitting next to a drinker can't give you liver damage.

I think you should worry less about people who like a glass of wine with their picnic, and worry more about your urge to bansturbate in public.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 10:27:15 AM

"Because sitting next to a drinker can't give you liver damage."

Maybe not but taxpayers still have to pay for the NHS treating the cirrhosis epidemic that comes from all that drinking . .

In the final analysis that is the only principle that can be invoked to justify the legal restrictions put on the sale of the addictive drugs. But exactly the same arguments apply to the consumption of alcohol too - which is also addictive and which, incidentally, also fuels violent crime and road accidents.

To be consistent, we should treat alcohol as a potentially addictive drug and never mind the consequences for the huge domestic industries geared to making and selling alcoholic beverages or the exchequer revenues generated by their consumption.

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 10:53:02 AM

As a Texan, and therefore a person who lives in a schizophrenic state where driving while drinking is not remarkable behavior but neither are entire counties that don't allow alcohol sales, I don't really know what to say but I have found that in the UK can you get away with walking around with a beer more easily than in the US.

My only problem in the UK was in London because I couldn't find any place to throw the empties at times. Is this because of IRA bombers? Sure can be hard to find a waste receptacle of any kind on the streets.

Posted by: Tex | Jun 23, 2007 11:09:07 AM

"Is this because of IRA bombers? Sure can be hard to find a waste receptacle of any kind on the streets."

Yes - with a settlement in Northern Ireland getting bedded down now, I've noticed that litter bins have started to make a come back in London. But now we have an emerging threat of terrorism from another source to contend with . .

Remember, neither the IRA nor relating terrorist organisations sought to bomb the London tube . .

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 11:29:18 AM

"Maybe not but taxpayers still have to pay for the NHS treating the cirrhosis epidemic that comes from all that drinking . ."

Bob, you're a puritan through and through. You'll next be taxing "irresponsible" people who climb mountains and go surfing because they, from time to time, require rescuing and NHS treatment.

"we should treat alcohol as a potentially addictive drug"

Oh bravo! Shall we add computer games, fatty food and reality TV to that mix too, all of which have been claimed to be potentially addictive from time to time.

I hate puritans. These modern ones are worse: the old-fashioned ones at least had a purpose (the worship of God), but the modern ones are just miserable fuckers.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 11:45:34 AM

"...taxpayers still have to pay for the NHS treating the cirrhosis epidemic that comes from all that drinking.."

I think the tax that they've paid on the alcohol should cover some of the cost, don't you...?

"Shall we add computer games....to that mix too, all of which have been claimed to be potentially addictive from time to time."

Funny you should say that:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003758115_gameaddict22.html

Posted by: JuliaM | Jun 23, 2007 12:21:12 PM

I think you're not taking into account the huge problems Scotland has with alcohol. As a nation, we have no idea about how to drink safely and in moderation. We're a nation of superlager and deep-fried pizzas and our ratesof alcohol problems are sky-high.

I don't want to see public drinking banned - but you must accept there's a difference between an adult drinking responsibly in a bar on a street corner, and fourteen year olds staggering around the streets out of their heads on superlager, throwing up and having unprotected sex.

To be honest, street cafes are never going to be a major part of Scottish culture because it's too bloody cold and it never stops raining, but it's depressing beyond belief to see teenagers with nothing to do but drink Buckfast in bus shelters.

Posted by: Kirsten | Jun 23, 2007 2:00:29 PM

Here's an idea: how about making it illegal to throw up in streets, urinate in public, assault people, have sex in public, and be drunk and disorderly. Oh, it is. Yet you point to Glaswegian slags and say "See? See? That's why YOU can't drink alcohol".

Go and put your own house in order and leave me alone.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 2:17:50 PM

"Go and put your own house in order and leave me alone."

Nice one. I'm going to use that. Thanks.

Posted by: Charles Pooter | Jun 23, 2007 2:33:25 PM

"Bob, you're a puritan through and through."

Regretfully, not so and I somehow feel sure life could be much more satisfying if I were. However, I do have this persistent regard for rational behaviour and logical consistency, which - because of Kenneth Arrow's impossibility theorem - is one pursuasive reason for suspecting that democratically expressed social preferences are not necessarily consistent:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow's_impossibility_theorem

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 5:50:56 PM

"I do have this persistent regard for rational behaviour and logical consistency"

It's neither rational nor consistent to demand that I give up my glass of wine with a barbecue because some Glaswegian slags drink three litres of alcopops and barf on a policeman. It is a sign of puritanism that my personal enjoyment of my glass of wine counts for (at best) absolutely nothing in your deliberations.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 6:03:28 PM

As an American, I don't think allowing public drinking here would improve our quality of life. Public drinking in the U.S. is most common among the lower social classes. The alcoholism that is prevelant among low income individuals would become more visible to the public, and accidents would occur more often- unlike in France or Italy where people sit in street cafes politely sipping wine.

Posted by: Charles Holden | Jun 23, 2007 6:32:11 PM

Since the powers to restrict drinking on the street in problem areas already exist, why is a national ban needed?

I'd guess most of the binge gets drunk in pubs and bars anyway. Wandering around the streets legless afterwards is a different problem.

As for the "youngsters drinking [Buckfast] on street corners", I suspect they may be under 18, which is why they're not in the pub.

Posted by: Michael | Jun 23, 2007 7:51:20 PM

"It's neither rational nor consistent to demand that I give up my glass of wine with a barbecue because some Glaswegian slags drink three litres of alcopops and barf on a policeman."

But you could claim much the same beguiling defence on behalf of the right to an occasional sniff of coke when partying or puffing on the occasional joint for inspiration.

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 9:14:43 PM

"But you could claim much the same beguiling defence on behalf of the right to an occasional sniff of coke when partying or puffing on the occasional joint for inspiration."

Indeed I do claim that right. Why shouldn't I be able to? It's my life and my body, or do you believe that I belong to the state?

I don't actually take these substances, but it chafes that some grandstanding politician decided I couldn't. In practice I could, of course (since I have the same level of respect for these laws as I have for the politicians that passed them) but the quality of the drugs is so low that they have potentially nasty contaminants (a result, you'll note, of them being illegal).

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 23, 2007 10:50:01 PM

To recap: my original point - which is in danger of getting mislaid - was to note the political inconsistency of banning smoking in public places or access to addictive drugs while permitting almost unlimted access to alcoholic drinks apart from a minimum age restriction, which is difficult to enforce.

The public rational of governments for banning access to addictive drugs ultimately hangs on the cost to taxpayers of dealing with the consequences of addiction - if addicts paid for the consequences they could all be left to get on with it and the ban could be lifted. However, alcohol is also addictive and taxpayers have to meet many of the costs of excessive consumption.

We are lacking a coherent public rational to account for the official but inconsistent permissive attitude regarding the sale of alcoholic drink. Drinking is acceptable, despite the damaging social consequences, while smoking isn't.

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 23, 2007 11:25:28 PM

Kay Tie is right; Bob B is talking bollocks, except where he says that much of the problems stem from the consequence-free nature of addicts' behaviour.

The real free market solution would be of course to internalise the negative externalities of getting pissed on white cider/having a punch-up in the High Street/chundering on a rozzer.

But there's a bigger point: who the fuck allowed it to become the case that we actually give newspaper space to the BMA, rather than telling the entire miserable bunch of prodnosed wankers to fuck right off where they came from and do their job, which is to fix people when they're ill. We treat doctors with far too much damn respect. It's not a particularly intellectually demanding job, at least in the junior ranks of the profession. Anyone who manages to get a 2:1 in a hard science or engineering discipline has all the mental equipment necessary to become a quack. yet we treat them like bloody oracles. The BMA is just a white collar union, and like all unions needs to be examined through the lens of Public Choice Theory, and then told to sod off.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 24, 2007 12:57:23 AM

Just in case anyone's wondering, public consumption of beer in Russia is allowed. In fact, sometimes it appears compulsory.

Bear in mind that beer is classed as a soft drink here though.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jun 24, 2007 2:27:13 AM

Tim N., I can (and do) walk past the house of the President of Costa Rica with a large and obvious can of beer in my hand, taking very visible swigs. If I tried climbing over the wall in a drunken stupor I'd no doubt be on the receiving end of several ounces of flying lead in very short order. But one random guy bimbling along stuck in a can of pre-prandial Carlsberg? They have weightier matters to grapple with.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 24, 2007 5:02:22 AM

Kay Tie, you appear to have missed the bit where I said I don't want to see public drinking banned. Has the drink addled your brain?

Posted by: Kirsten | Jun 24, 2007 2:23:54 PM