WHAT is the world coming to? A Government advisor has suggested we stop buying rounds in pubs to cut down on binge drinking.
Somebody else who lives on Planet Zog.
The round is an article of faith among mates and a swift barometer of who is a good bloke.
You soon discover those who duck and dive to get out of their round or who calculate that, if they buy the first when there are only the two of you at the start of the night, they might just be able to get away with not buying another. When their turn comes again, they are absent without leave, catching up with an old friend on the other side of the pub or in the loo with a sudden attack of sealed wallet syndrome.
Years ago, when the Examiner had its office in Ramsden Street and all the journalists frequented the Albert Hotel, one young chap was renowned for avoiding his obligations. Everyone drank halves in that era and one night we couldn’t work out how he was managing to avoid paying. Then the penny dropped.
He was in two rounds and not buying in either, but melting away to the alternative crowd whenever it became likely that he might be called upon to put his hand in his pocket.
If you ban rounds, you would lose all that fun and challenge and good natured discussion about short arms and long pockets.
In fact, back in those halcyon Albert days, the late, over generous and much missed Fritz Sykora – who was an honorary member of the Examiner drinking club – was so wary of not standing his corner that he once famously declared, in slightly confused English: “I am now standing in my corner,” before buying everyone a drink.
Prof Richard Thaler, who is an American by the way, is an adviser to the Prime Minister on behavioural economics. If his suggestion was acted upon, landlords and bar staff would have to ban rounds.
“Sorry, we don’t want any of that behaviour in here?”
“What behaviour is that, then?”
“Responsible chums having a drink together.”
Because drinking should be undertaken responsibly and, while rounds should not be compulsory, they should certainly not be banned as a social convention.
Instead, the Prof suggests friends should set up a tab to be split at the end of an evening out. Oh yes? I’ll bet landlords would love an extra confusion about serving drinks on a Friday night and the arguments when it came to settling up.
“We haven’t drunk that much?”
Having a tab is what often happens in America. But then again, in America, they often have another system in setting up a tab that is downright foolish – they take your credit card at the start of the session and keep it until the end.
Over here, of course, where we are mostly sensible about drinking you cannot use a credit card to pay for booze in a pub because we understand the temptation of unlimited finance.
“Let’s have another.”
“Don’t you think we’ve had enough.”
“It’s on Visa. Who cares? How much credit have I got left, love?”
“Whey hey. Let’s have double whiskies as well, then.”
Sorry, Prof, your behavioural economics might best be applied in America. Or on planet Zog.