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No smoking inside, no drinking outside.

We've had this in Aberdeen for quite some time. Drinking in the street or in the park was banned long before smoking in pubs was banned. You can take a drink outside a pub as long as you are on pub property, a beer garden or other area that belongs solely to the pub. Most city centre pubs don't have such areas. Pubs that do are the most popular, which is odd because the smoking ban has had no effect on pubs (at least, not in the dream world of the Righteous).

So now, in many pubs, you have to finish your drink before you go outside for a smoke, and finish your smoke before you go back in for another drink. You can no longer enjoy the combination.

The Mail is full of lid-flipping hoo-hah about similar rules being employed in English towns. Well, the ones that apply in Aberdeen are only really enforced if someone is drinking in the street and also causing a nuisance. They are pretty much ignored on New Year's Eve unless someone is being more of a nuisance than the rest of the population, which is hard work. I suspect that once the English council jobsworths get their teeth into this new way to clobber the innocent, it'll be different.

The 'no drinking outside' rule was never a big deal here. It's cold outside for most of the year. All our brass monkeys sing soprano. It only became an issue when combined with the 'no smoking inside' rule which meant that the combined enjoyment of a smoke and a drink was gone. Now people are looking at the no drinking outside rule and thinking 'What's that for?'

We already have laws covering 'disorderly conduct' and even 'drunk in a public place' and - this will shock the Righteous mind - it is possible to have a drink without getting so plastered you can't remember your name and the height of your conversational ability becomes 'urgh'. This evening I have already made a serious dent in a bottle of Laphroaig (still on special offer in Tesco) and yet I only have to go back and edit about half of my typing. Sober, it's about a quarter because I'm a lousy typist anyway. Oh, I'd be unsafe to drive for sure but I am not about to urinate on a cat (not wise anyway if you're slowed by drink. They have claws) or fall asleep on the bonnet of someone's car or chat up Harrriet Harman. I doubt I could ever get that drunk.

So why do we need this law? Police already have the power to arrest anyone who's causing a nuisance by throwing bottles around or shouting at strangers. Police can arrest anyone urinating in public. Why do they need the power to arrest someone freezing their most treasured appendages off at a bus stop, and who mitigates the pain with a swig of brandy from a hip flask? We already have laws against causing a public nuisance, whether drunk or not. Nobody really needs this no-drinking-at-all law.

The law (bye-law, really) against drinking outside here was shrugged off. Nobody who wasn't a piss-soaked alkie wanted to sit out in the cold anyway. The piss-soaked alkies ignored the law and as long as they caused no trouble, the police ignored them. Now that the winter is approaching again, the combination of this law with the smoking ban is starting to be noticed again. Even pubs with their own outside areas will soon be as well attended as an Iranian bar mitzvah. Too cold to smoke outside, and snow in your whisky is not an improvement.

Oh, Electrofag does help but some pubs are still leery of allowing them. Not because of Righteous bar staff but because of terrified bar staff. They are all too well aware of the level of fine they can expect if someone is considered to be smoking by some jumped-up little self-appointed inspector who buys one half pint and spends the rest of the evening looking for something to be offended at. With bar takings already hammered by the smoking ban, especially in winter, who can blame them? Pubs really can't afford to risk that fine.

The Electrofag-friendly pubs tend to be the ones where everyone knows each other. the Electrofag-unfriendly ones tend to be those that have a more transient clientele (based on a small sample size. I don't go to all that many pubs). Where the bar staff know who they can trust, things are far more relaxed.

Even so, Electrofag is not, for me, an absolute replacement. If you're happy with Electrofag alone you're okay but for those like me who still want a bit of benzene and formaldehyde now and then, outside is still the only option.

Back to the drink (hear it pouring?). Places where smokers could buy a pack of cans and sit in the park, thus enjoying both vices at once, are about to find those vices segregated. Places where non-smokers could sit outside of an evening and enjoy a pint are about to be closed off. Here, it's too cold most of the time for anyone to care too much about outside. We'd much rather smoke inside than drink outside. In the comparatively balmy south (yes it is. I once stood on a South Wales station in shirtsleeves in November and I was still too warm) people might enjoy the al-fresco beer with or without added nicotine. Many of them are Labour voters at the moment. Not for long, I suspect.

So why are they doing this?

Council leader Jon Collins said: 'People understand clear messages. There's no confusion in alcohol-free zones. I do not think it's a civil liberties issue. It's about saying we do not want people drinking in the street.'

Interesting take on civil liberties. We don't want anyone doing this so we're going to ban it but that's nothing to do with civil liberties. I wonder if the teacher who explained logic to this guy was sober at the time?

One of the targets of the Nottingham blitz will be youths staggering through the streets late at night brandishing bottles and glasses taken from pubs and bars.

Isn't that already illegal? Theft of glasses, drunk in a public place, and so on?

The bottles are often used as weapons in street fights. A ban on street drinking would make it easier for them to be confiscated.

No it wouldn't. The bottles are empty. They are not drinking from them. Reminds me of an old Mad magazine cartoon where a police officer smiles at a lunatic with a shotgun, because the lunatic isn't carrying a concealed weapon and therefore isn't breaking the law. Besides, isn't hitting someone with a bottle illegal? it certainly should be. You don't need to be drinking to do it either. The bottle is more effective when full (but please, don't do this with an Islay malt. That's really criminal).

This law will be abused by the authorities. You know it. The feeble officials will shy away from real trouble and go after easy targets instead. This will have no effect on real troublemakers, but will give picnickers with a bottle of wine reason to be fearful. It's another ill-conceived piece of rubbish legislation to add to the pile.

Ah, but soon this government will be gone. And then we can look forward to...

The Tories backed Nottingham and said it was 'absolutely right' they should get tough on binge drinking on the streets.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'We've also got to deal with the huge flaws in our licensing system and in particular with the proliferation of late night offlicences which are adding to the very real problem of drink and anti-social behaviour.'

...exactly the same.

Look, Grayling, you total arse. They are not targeting binge drinking. They are targeting anyone who takes a swig from a single bottle of fermented urine on a warm day. They are setting up a new set of fundraising fines targeted at anyone who isn't causing any trouble and who is likely to be law-abiding enough not to insert the bottle into the pompous little git filling out his form. Nobody is going to stop the real drunken louts because councils don't employ people with the guts to do that. They only employ weak-willed sycophants who will do as they are told, without question.

Forget about the booze. Arrest the nutters.

Then you might get somewhere.
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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
1st Oct, 2009 09:08 (UTC)
Modern sociological thought is at the root of this I'm sure, punishment is barbaric and prevention is prefered.

Or in practice, criminals are never punished and no one else has any freedom.

1st Oct, 2009 16:31 (UTC)
It's all part of 'fairness'.

If one person is labelled criminal, we all have to be. If one is accused of paedophilia, we all have to be.

And if one is a complete gibbering idiot... we make him Prime Monster.

It's only fair.
1st Oct, 2009 16:45 (UTC)
"Forget about the booze. Arrest the nutters. "

But they fight back! Easier to harass the law-abiding picnic throwers instead. They only have plastic forks to defend themselves with...

JuliaM (http://thylacosmilus.blogspot.com/)
2nd Oct, 2009 01:01 (UTC)
You can do some damage with a plastic fork, you know.

And of course, there's the bottle, very heavy when almost full. A few brain-damaged council pseudoplods might get the message across. Although, would anyone notice?
1st Oct, 2009 21:21 (UTC)
Gareth posting as Anonymous said:
"So why do we need this law? Police already have the power to arrest anyone who's causing a nuisance by throwing bottles around or shouting at strangers. Police can arrest anyone urinating in public."

It is a game. An illusion. It is about looking the part and nothing more. The 'job' of the Police these days is to say their hands are tied and they need more legislation. The 'job' of MPs is to provide that legislation despite both knowing that plenty of legislation already exists to deal with this. Far better for PR purposes to craft new legislation than merely say 'the Police already have all the powers they need'. Both parties appear to have done something constructive and responsive but it takes a long time, abuses the public trust, costs the taxpayers a pretty penny and misses the point - like the 24 hour drinking kerfuffle. Shorter drinking hours do not cause loutish behaviour - louts do. Longer opening hours were never going to solve that. What better way to spend your time as an MP than cooking up pointless legislation in league with the Police and they all get paid for it! It's not like they have anything better to do because all the heavy lifting of Governance has been willingly shovelled over to Brussels or into the clammy hands of quangos.

I would hazard a guess that the longer opening hours was the quid pro quo of the smoking ban. We have a corporatist Government both here and in Brussels. All the bullshit about wanting to encourage a more continental drinking culture was just that.
2nd Oct, 2009 01:08 (UTC)
Re: Gareth posting as Anonymous said:
The 24 hour drinking was a slap in the face for smokers. 'Ha-ha, all the pubs can open 24 hours a day and you can't smoke in any of them.' It's a Hell on earth.

Or it would be, if any pubs were actually open for 24 hours a day. I've never seen one.

You're right though, it's prancing around making up new laws so that innocent bystanders can be arrested and raise the arrest figures so it looks like something is being done about the real troublemakers. Who are not even slightly inconvenienced by any of it.

Just like the gun ban, which the criminals ignored because, well, criminals tend to ignore laws. Then we hear of grannies with old war relics that nobody could get ammunition for getting prosecuted.

The arrest rate rockets. For the criminals, business as usual. Even better than usual because they know for a fact that the house they intend to burgle doesn't have a gun in it.

But then, the laws were never for the criminals. They were for us.
1st Oct, 2009 22:43 (UTC)
One of your very very best, LI
Apart from this.

"All our brass monkeys sing soprano"

Castrato, surely?
2nd Oct, 2009 01:12 (UTC)
Re: One of your very very best, LI
I havered over 'castrato' but I thought it might be offensive to the nutless.

Since most of them are in positions of power, it seemed unwise to provoke them all at once.

You know, castratos were much in demand among the ladies of the time. They could perform but not produce so the ladies could have affairs and have no fear of pregnancy.

Contraception broke their monopoly and then being a castrato wasn't so much fun. Why have your bag of lumps de-lumped when all you needed was an inner tube with a knot in the end?

And a feather...

2nd Oct, 2009 02:42 (UTC)
Laphroaig is dreadful stuff. I bought a bottle of it once, so I should know.

I bought it because Sainsbury's used to do a heavenly Islay malt whisky, and I thought it was about time I bought a bottle of the real thing. Big mistake.

Me, I stick to Tesco Special Reserve. I only ever went wrong with it once.
2nd Oct, 2009 16:23 (UTC)
There are a lot of different Islay malts. Laphroaig is one of the high-peat ones and not to everyone's taste.

I try out new ones in the pub. It's cheaper that way.
2nd Oct, 2009 16:40 (UTC)
I expect you'll have seen this latest story?

Composing a post as we speak, and for only the second time in my life, wishing I was a swearblogger, so I could really do justice to it...


JuliaM (http://thylacosmilus.blogspot.com/)

4th Nov, 2009 21:21 (UTC)
New years eve
The bye-law isn't ignored on New Years eve, it doesn't apply in the hours between 6pm on the 31st and 6am on the 1st.

4th Nov, 2009 22:49 (UTC)
Re: New years eve
That's interesting. I'd always assumed the police would be far too busy with seriously drunk troublemakers to worry about a few tuneless singers staggering about.

So from 6:01 pm to 5:59 am on the 31st December, we can all legally take our drinks outside the pub when we go for a smoke. Well, from 6:01 to closing time anyway, which is usually shortly after the bells.

I'll have to try that.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )