THE great drink debate is in full swing.
Are supermarkets to blame for selling lager at four pence a case?
Is the 24 hour drinking law setting a target to which only Frank Gallagher from Shameless could aspire?
“I drank non-stop for 23 hours but then fell asleep in a skip. But don’t worry. I’ll do it with my next giro.”
In America you have to be 21 to drink. Why not here? The US also has a zero tolerance to the drinking of alcohol in the street. Let’s have the same here, not just for kids but for anyone.
There has been a suggestion that tobacco addicts should buy a smoker’s passport, so let’s have a drinker’s passport that has to be shown for every purchase.
“Should beer be doubled in price?” I asked in one local club.
“No,” came the reply. “Because in here it’s policed. It’s a safe environment.”
And anyway, I’m not sure that price is the reason why under-age kids are falling about village centres out of their heads on White Lightning. The problem is availability so let’s stop them getting hold of it.
This may take Draconian measures but so be it: shopkeepers who sell to anyone without a drinker’s passport should lose their booze licence.
Anyone older buying it to pass on should be treated as a drug dealer and prosecuted with all severity of the law. Alcohol is a drug and they are dealing it to those too young to drink.
The 24 hour drinking law should be repealed. Booze police should patrol trouble spots on Friday and Saturday nights to arrest anyone worse for wear who would then be sent to a camp under canvas on the North Yorkshire Moors for a week in the rain to dry out.
Now you’ve got me started, I could go on for ever.
The fact is that most social drinkers are not falling down drunks or start fights. They are normal people who like to socialise and the craic is as big a part of going to the pub as having a pint.
However, the drink debate does seem to be calling for new measures and my wife Maria, who is 60 next month, has come up with a radical solution.
“No one should be allowed to drink until they are 60,” she says. “And then they should get it free under the National Health.”
Sounds all right to me.
The friendly, jovial side of controversial Mr al Fayed
THE inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed in London has turned, at times, into a very expensive pantomime.
I find this tragic when what is being investigated is a car crash that ended three lives 10 years ago.
This is Mohammed al Fayed’s day in court, the chance to make all manner of wide ranging and bizarre accusations: that the crash was arranged by MI6 acting under orders of the Duke of Edinburgh. A chance, perhaps, to shed all the accumulated anger and frustrations of the last decade. A chance, to gain (as the Americans say) closure.
His allegations in the witness box were riveting if unsubstantiated. He has been an irritant to the royal family and the establishment. To the general public, he may have looked a slightly sad figure.
But the Mohammed al Fayed Huddersfield University lecturer Stephen Dorril met was anything but sad or bizarre: he was entertaining and friendly and had a delightful sense of humour.
Dorril, who lives at Netherthong, is an acknowledged expert on the intelligence services of the world and has written extensively on the subject. He has talked to spies and agents and has been bugged himself.
When his book MI6: Fifty Years Of Special Operations was published in 2000, he got an unexpected telephone call from Mohammed al Fayed.
Apparently, he liked the book, even though in it Dorril wrote: “all stories linking MI6 to the Princess’s death in the car accident in France have been complete nonsense.”
He says, “But I did name a couple of MI6 officers who were in Paris at the time and said that the brother of Rosa Monckton, Diana’s best friend, was an MI6 agent.”
Al Fayed invited him to Harrod’s and sent a chauffeured limousine to pick him up.
Dorril says, “His ideas are crazy but he was very nice to meet; a most charming man. We had coffee and biscuits and he showed me round Harrod’s. As I was leaving, he gave me a box of chocolates and two of his personal ties.”
Mohammed al Fayed said to him, “These are special ties that will protect you against MI6 spooks. If a spook ever tries to strangle you with one, you will be okay.”
They were clip on ties.
Dorril, of course, still has them. Just in case