O Stella

What is the state of the nation’s youth? Permanently legless, apparently. That is why the Chief Constable of the Cheshire Constabulary has suggested raising the age limit for purchasing alcohol to 21 years; no doubt a real concern for today’s pissed up 16 year olds, especially as many shops already operate a voluntary code whereby they only serve those who look over 21 in the first place. Are the kids much worse than in my day? Perhaps, but one tragic case doesn’t make it so, and Peter Fahy’s comments seem to me to be more about deflecting and pre-empting the inevitable criticism he knew his force would face for failing to be all places at all times and to prevent anything bad from ever happening.

But drink does cause its problems, otherwise why are Friday and Saturday nights the busiest times down at your local A&E? I’m sure that the problem of drunken idiots causing violence is more down to the perpetrators being idiots rather than drunken; yet even idiots are still able to restrain themselves from caving in someone else’s skull while sober, more often than not. It is the whole drink/idiot combination that creates the problems.

Most of the proposed solutions – raising the legal age, increasing the price of alcohol, preventing drinking in public – seem over the top to me, unfairly hitting the majority of people who drink in moderation, or who even when plastered are only a danger to themselves. But one of Fahy’s comments, lamenting that parents are abdicating their responsibilities, seems more on the money. I was particularly shocked to hear one young lad on last nights Ten O’clock News, who, when asked if changing the drinking age limit would be effective, replied

it would make a lot of difference to young teenagers these days, because parents are giving them the money which is, like, alcohol these days, you can buy a four pack of Stella for a tenner, easily.

It is difficult to know where to start here, isn’t it? Can this be true? Is this lad representative of the youth of today? If so, is his generation rubbish at arithmetic or just poor at exercising their consumer choice? Four cans for a tenner! Where does he shop? Even Thresher wouldn’t dare charge that much, even for the reassuringly expensive wife-beater itself. I don’t know whether to refer him to a maths teacher or to trading standards; or perhaps just direct him to a shop with Booze in the title where he will find that buying four Stellas for a tenner is even easier than he thinks. Indeed, he will see that he can either receive a cool six quid in change, or better still, take them up on their rather splendid 12 for £10 offer.