So the papers have been up in arms for the past fortnight about the horrors of people drinking past 11pm, if the pubs choose to offer them that opportunity and they so wish.
I choose that long-winded definition because the media term ’24 hour drinking’ has been presented as if that is what it will be – teenagers knocking back alcopops always and forever.
I’m here to tell you that this is not going to happen and there are two reasons:
1. Cost. I’ve been in London for the past few days engaging in three hour drinking and it left a big enough hole in my pocket. That other media invented term Binge drinking doesn’t mean drinking loads of alcohol all the time it means going silly once in a while. Who can afford to binge all the time?
2. Standing Outside a Pub in Rainy and Cold English November Weather at 2am Isn’t Anyone’s Idea of Fun. And that is what we will have when the government gets round to achieving its cherished goal of driving smokers out of pubs. I confess that I am the kind of person who would, on occassion, stay in a pub until 2am if I was allowed to. That may make me a binge drinker. But as someone who also enjoys a cigarette there is no way I will stay any longer than necessary in a ‘smoke free’ environment – as my employer could testify.
So if the government’s proposed legislation on drinking and smoking actually comes into effect – we will have pubs able to stay open all night but a large chunk of us won’t want to be in them. I’ve no scientific basis for this but my gut feeling tells me that the kind of people who like to drink a lot late into the night also tend to be the kind of people who like a smoke now and then.
So here is the genius of New Labour – when Britain finally gets civilised European style drinking laws the pubs will actually close at 10.30 with those clean living non-smoking types having long since finished off their diet cokes (or bottles of crap weak Italian lager if they are going wild) while the country’s bona fide boozers will be at home with friends enjoying beer and cigarettes for as long as we want.