Anorak News | The Last Chance Saloon

The Last Chance Saloon

by | 21st, November 2005

‘WILL seeing a picture of a jaundiced George Best make you think twice about drinking?

Last orders?

A shot of the footballing legend looking terrible has been released to the press by Best and his family to remind people of the perils of the demon dink.

It’s a grim image of a desperately ill man. But it seems to say as much about the nature of celebrity as it does about alcoholism. We are so used to seeing pictures of injured and dead bodies in the media that the only thing that makes Best’s case special is his fame.

Instead of getting the anti-drinking message, we wallow in a mawkish state of pity at what has become of a once great sportsman. It’s like gawping at the wreckage of a car crash. We slow down by Best’s bed, before putting our boot down and speeding off on our own lives.

And while we rubberneck at Best, the Sun says there’s nothing new in drinking to excess. The paper says that Britons were binge drinkers 700 years ago.

“If you thought binge drinking was new, then think again,” says John Clark, curator of the Medieval gallery at the Museum of London.

An exhibition, scheduled to open at the museum this Friday – the day after 24-hour drinking begins in Britain – will show that the average daily consumption for Londoners in the 12th century was eight pints a day.

Back then there was one pub for every 50 people. Now we have to muddle by on one pub for every 750 of us.

But what can we learn from this brief history of drinking? A look at the years between then and now reveals that booze did not cause Britain to go to hell in a handcart. Indeed London grew into a world city, a financial superpower that fuelled the mighty British Empire.

But things are very different today. Today we have alcopops. And we have the Mail to tell us that round-the-clock drinking will do for us all.

It seems the police have reacted with “fury” after it emerged that “they will face the chaos” of 24-hour drinking without tough new powers to deal with drunks.

And it’s the Government’s fault. The paper says that ministers had promised the police that the new drinking laws would coincide with the police’s ability to ban yobs from town centres and create “Alcohol Disorder Zones”.

But no. The planned Violent Crime Reduction Bill will not come into force until next year, by which time the precinct will be awash with vomit, broken glass and blood, the typical detritus of a good night out with the lads.

And the Express agrees. The paper says that a “blunder” in the law means that pubs will have to close as normal at 11pm on Wednesday night – but they can legally start serving booze again an hour later when the new legislation kicks in.

“It means thousands of drunken revellers…could spill on to the streets for an hour awaiting re-opening,” says the Express. “Trouble could erupt.”

Indeed, there could be problems – especially for those drinkers who succumb to hypothermia as they stand in the street waiting for the pub to open…’

Posted: 21st, November 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink