A repository of articles, musings and hazy recollections concerning pubs and beer from a London-dwelling beer user.
Saturday, 1 August 2009
25 and in need of booze? Barcode your face!
I'm 26 years old, making me a cool eight years older than I need be to score a hit of booze should I so desire. So, I ask myself, what's with Think 25, a Tesco policy to challenge whippersnappers in their youth to provide ID if they even conceivably look younger than a quarter of a century?
Apparently, this has been up and running since late March, so I'm obviously late to the party (though not as late as I would be if between me and the party were an officious bastard behind the counter at the store that loves to remind us 'every little helps'). According to the Daily Mail, Asda, Morrisons, M&S, the Co-op and Sainsbury's are all on board, either having implemented this demented fuck-wittery or planning to do so by September. Only Aldi and Lidl shoppers will be safe, in addition to those more refined youngsters frequenting Waitrose.
Now this is obviously preposterous. Were I intellectually challenged, I'd probably dub it 'political correctness gone mad'. Of course, given political correctness is simply a mechanism through which we collectively attempt to find ways of saying things without meaning to cause offence to segments of society, it isn't. But were I thick as pig shit, I'd undoubtedly say it and believe it.
The real culprit is - as ever in situations involving 'crazy' health & safety advice and paedo hysteria meaning school trips can't take place unless all the accompanying parents are either castrated or otherwise neutered - is the gut-wrenchingly risk-averse and litigious nature of British society, in part imported from across the pond.
Indeed, Tesco's jumping on the bandwagon stems from a lost court case in Blackpool (admittedly, a prosecution and not a civil case) after a 16-year old was able to buy brain-pop on three occasions. Of course, in the no-win-no-fee, knickers-in-a-twist country we inhabit, this particular government has routinely surrendered to supposed moral panic regarding the decline of the nation by legislating to ride the crest of the frothed up rage.
Tesco doubtless has a grey man in a grey suit, hired primarily due to his uncanny resemblance to Spitting Image's John Major puppet, tasked with establishing risk reduction solutions and due diligence compliance procedures by way of response. Think 25 is his idea. He has three children, called Julian, Sophie and Giles, and lives in Sevenoaks, Kent. He has not had intercourse for five years.
We have the whole young people and alcohol debate so sullied by poor representation in the media. It also has to be said that social atomisation in the UK, with fewer families than ever sitting down together for meals or enjoying inter-generational nights out, has reduced the number of opportunities to mentor teens into the ways of the drop.
But nothing smacks so much of wrong-headed pointlessness and rank human cynicism as this. I've always thought that, rather than 'is this person over 18?', a better and more useful question would be 'is this person really 17?'. Asking a person who's 25 to provide ID would seem crazy if this latter question were also in the mind of the shop assistant.
Anyway, there is one thing far more dangerous about this than the accessibility of alcohol in our shops. It's that this issue has put me in agreement with Stuart Maconie. Not a nice place to be.
This came up because my fianceé was asked for ID in a supermarket claiming it wants you to 'try something new today'. Those of you pondering whether I've bagged myself a child bride calm down - she's my age (well, give or take, your honour...)
I should add that things being dubbed 'political correctness gone mad' makes my blood boil. The left always gets it in the neck for this kind of dung, but nine times out of ten, western risk-aversion and litigiousness is at the bottom of it - as I've said, most prevalently in the states, which could hardly be considered communist. Stewart Lee (see video below) makes this point better than I ever could. And funnily, which is a plus.