Why the alcohol advertising ban just won’t wash

Carling CupHeadline writers were overjoyed again this week, as the BMA proposed a blanket ban on alcohol advertising in an effort to cut drinking among the ‘youth of today’ (copyright!).

I think most people would agree that more and more people are drinking to excess and it’s having an impact on society, but the notion that a complete ban would have an impact is surely naive in the extreme.

The BBC chose to highlight the impact this would have by showing footage of sports events – many of which are traditionally sponsored by drinks companies – and how this might work. Cue blacked-out hoardings next to football pitches, football shirts with covered-up logos and sponsored events with no name.

I know this is just one element, but do teenagers seriously watch Arsenal playing Manchester United in the Carling Cup and think to themselves – ooh, I could just go a can of the cold stuff right now?!

And who ever even looks at the advertising boards that line football pitches – unless the action is seriously dire, I tend to concentrate on the players and where the ball is.

Many people will remember the ban on ‘characters’ advertising lager in the 80s which saw the ‘cuddly’ Hofmeister bear bid a sad goodbye to our TV screens. Now, I know Hofmeister isn’t exactly the lager on everyone lips, so to speak, but at the time we all sat around and laughed at the thought that a bear in a trilby was responsible for us necking cans on a Saturday night.

Don’t get me wrong, I think measures should be introduced to stem the flow of teenagers in A&E on a Saturday night suffering from alcohol-related injuries, but an outright ban on booze seems to be an all-too-simple headline-grabbing suggestion.

The Hofmeister Bear – for those who don’t remember

What happened to basic maths?

We went out for some food and drink last night and ended up, after some tapas, in The White Hart in Crystal Palace.

Since the birth of A I don’t go into pubs as often as I used to, but I’m not a complete irregular and I was struck by how reliant many pubs have become on their computerised tills.

I ordered two drinks last night – one bitter, one lager. The barman pulled the pints and set them down in front of me.

Now, ordinarily, I’d expect the person behind the bar to then say something along the lines of, “That’s £5.20, please.”

But not last night. After giving me my drinks, he then had to go halfway back up the bar to ‘log in’ to his till and put in the drinks, before returning with the price.

How tough is it to remember the price of different types of beer and to add them up?

We’re not talking rocket science here. As it turned out, I discovered later that they were both the same price, so he wasn’t even having to add together two different figures.

How ridiculous is it that bar staff now need their till to tell them how much a couple of pints will cost.

I’ve worked a few (non-computerised) bars in my time and you’re reliant on your basic numeracy, otherwise there would be seriously pissed-off punters waiting far too long for a drink to slake their thirst.

Whoever said that computers made our lives easier never worked behind a bar, clearly!

Where does the time go?

Sometimes I wonder what I did with my life before I had kids. The weekends always seemed to stretch out like a never-ending chasm, to be filled with drinking wine, cooking lovely food and watching TV or going to the movies.

Now, I occasionally get to cook lovely food, drink wine as long as it’s not too much, or else I’ll have a stinking hangover, never go to the cinema, unless it’s with my three-year-old (The Wild, Flushed Away) and watch any TV I can get to. I watch Match Of The Day on Sunday, if I’m lucky courtesy of Sky+

In fact, I watch most of my favourite TV (actually we do), by virtue of Sky+ – I don’t think I watch anything at the time it’s actually broadcast, apart from the occasional news bulletin. Decidedly odd. What happened to watercooler TV? I think I’ve had about one conversation about last night’s TV in the past 6 months, and that was about, dare I say it, Celeb Big Brother.

It’s not as if we don’t do things with Ava – more that everything has to be structured around her and when she eats. If we go shopping in town, we end up being at Oxford Circus at 12.15, so we can go to Mamas & Papas cafe. Ah, those halcyon days of suddenly grabbing something at 2.30pm and necking a bottle of wine.

If it sounds like I’m moaning, far from it. My children are a delight – I suppose I sometimes marvel at what my life used to be like. Fulfilment is guaranteed now!