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EditorialsUp Front 09/13

Up Front 09/13

There’s never been a better time to be sober. I really never thought I’d hear myself say that, let alone put it into print. When I was growing up there was a certain manliness associated with how much alcohol one could consume. It was in an era when years spent perfecting the art of drinking was a rite of passage, and keeping up with more seasoned drinkers was part of the process of learning to be a man. The important thing was to appear sober. There was nothing manly about being drunk and incapable and nothing was less amusing. The more one could drink and remain sober, the more impressive a character one was. In retrospect—from a health perspective—I can see that learning to ingest large quantities of something that in the long run will shorten your life and soak up taxes was perhaps not the best policy. But there was definitely something to be said for the idea of at least acting sober. However I’m a bit wary of the idea that was floated recently to put inebriated people into ‘drunk tanks’ for the night. A private company would be responsible for putting drunks into a cell for the night and would then charge them a fee for the service. According to one report, some police believe that a commercially run initiative would act as an extra deterrent to excessive drinking, as well as allow them to concentrate on more important police work. In one interview a senior police officer was at great pains to point out that they should not be referred to as ‘drunk tanks’ but rather as ‘welfare centres’. Reports suggested that it costs the police between £300-£400 per night to deal with a single drunk, so there is certainly plenty of incentive for a private company to be paid to step in and put someone into their ‘care’ for the night. If our experience of private car parks, private clamping or private debt collection tactics is anything to go by, I’ll say again, it’s a good time to be sober. Note to self: remember in bedtime prayers tonight to beg God not to let this bit of musing come back and bite me on the bum one day—or night.

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