The British government want to relax the licensing laws so that it could become possible to buy an alcoholic drink 24 hours a day. The government's big plan behind this is to try to create more 'continental' drinking habits in Britain, where people apparently go out for a long leisurely drink over a number of hours. This would presumably mean a move away from the 'binge drinking' culture we currently have, where a closing time of 11pm encourages people to drink relentlessly for a few short hours in an attempt to get skulled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This has sparked off quite a bit of controversy, and last week a report from the Council of Her Majesty's Circuit Judges outlined fears that violent crime would soar. In some ways, I find this entirely believable. To have a continental style drinking culture requires continental style drinkers, and last time I was out in Paris, I didn't see too many people drinking Bacardi Breezers in a 2 for 1 promotion whilst wobbling down the high street shouting. You would have to assume that extended opening times would just see the Great British public drink more, not the same amount over a longer time.
Mind you, if everyone is like me, then there probably isn't all that much to fear. I was in Manchester this weekend to watch the cricket with my mates. On Saturday, rain delayed the start of the game, so we went to a sports bar for a spot of breakfast and to kill some time. I had my first pint at about 10:30 and we stayed in the bar until about 15:30 when we headed over to the ground and more beer. In the end we saw about 14 overs of cricket, and I was asleep in my seat for about half of that. At the close of play, we went to the pub for another pint, then on to Curry Mile for a Jalfrezi and some more beer. Then back to the hotel for a quick Glenmorangie and to fall asleep in front of match of the day and then bed.
I suppose in terms of units of alcohol consumed it was a classic binge drinking session. It didn't exactly make me violent though.... oh no. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was in bed by 11pm.
I didn't shout abuse at anyone in the street. I didn't letch at any passing women. I didn't start a fight. I didn't chuck my guts up. Nothing. I just drank a pint of water and went to bed.
In fact, I'm actually a little bit ashamed to call myself a binge drinker. What kind of man am I?
It's a bit pathetic really, isn't it? I think I find the idea of 24 hour opening more frightening a prospect than the Council of Her Majesty's Circuit Judges.... far too tiring.