Saturday, 23 October 2010

Turning a blind eye

I’ve never thought much of Robert Crampton as a newspaper columnist: he always comes across as one of those who writes whimsical, knowing drivel that doesn’t actually say very much, in other words much like every writer in the unlamented Punch magazine. Indeed, I remember a column he wrote a few years ago in which he effectively said “I don’t see the point of pubs. I once went in one and didn’t like it.”

However, he’s spot on in a recent column in the Times, which I can’t link to because it’s behind a paywall, but which has been reported in the Morning Advertiser. In this he argues that tolerating under-18s drinking in pubs is a way of socialising them and teaching them the rules of the adult world, a point that has been made before by Tim Martin of Wetherspoons, amongst others.

“Part of the tacit arrangement with the landlord was that we had to keep a low profile, behave ourselves, act in at least a civilised manner, learn the etiquette of communal socialising.

“If you got too gobby, you would be chucked out. Literally chucked out.

“Being in a pub meant that you absorbed a code of behaviour and that code did not include being an annoying little prat, or what is nowadays called antisocial behaviour.

“A pub is actually a very good place — much better than a street — for older men and women to pass on words of wisdom or warning to those who need to hear them.”
Unfortunately, the current draconian insistence on age-checking paradoxically makes the problems of underage drinking worse, not better.

What is needed is not a change in the law, but a tacit acceptance that, unless trouble is caused, a blind eye will in many circumstances be turned. If you know you are underage, you haven’t a leg to stand on if you step out of line. A similar blind eye is often turned, for example, with underage sex and many minor motoring offences, so it can’t be said that it never happens.


  1. I said as much the other day in the "Proxy parenting" thread.

    Another plus point shall we say is this, it actually gets young uns out socialising and bums on seats as it were.

    Instead we have young uns that can for a fiver sit in their bedrooms with their mates getting off their head, when a fiver wont buy 2 pints.

  2. Mudgie - did you see this weekend's Alcohol Concern report? Dear oh dear - more scaremongering nonsense.

    I covered it myself and suspect this might be up your alley. My angle was somewhat different from the BBC's.

    BLOG POST: Number of booze kids admitted to hospital falls to 0.103% - Alcohol Concern

  3. Yes, I saw that - very good post.

  4. The idea of turning a blind eye to underage drinking is attractive if one is talking about traditional pubs. But how many of today's yoof would want to drink in such places in preference to kiddy bars, where the objective is usually just getting blotto as quickly as possible? There would be little point in turning a blind eye to that! The old multi-generational pub, where adults helped set the tone, is becoming a thing of the past - a tragedy in my view.


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