IN a nutshell, I like to drink.
I am not particularly proud of this, nor am I especially ashamed. It is just a thing.
I can no more help it than I can help that I like American football, Chicken McNuggets or Paddy McGuinness. Essentially unpleasant things, for sure, but whether by nature or nurture, each has long been hard-wired into me.
I am afraid sometimes I binge drink. I enjoy the searing sensation which comes with the derangement of one’s senses for a finite period of time.
I am, in short, an intelligent man prone to mindless bouts of stupidity.
Often – generally over a pint – I have wondered why this is, and I tend to come to one conclusion: perhaps it is because I am human?
There’s that theory, isn’t there? That the earliest civilisations were built on being beastly. That the first human beings to exchange a life of hunter-gathering for settled farming did so because it was the only way to ensure a steady supply of grape.
Maybe I am simply an evolutionary product of this.
Or maybe not.
Because here’s what I’ve noticed during the current debate about raising the price of alcohol to reduce binge boozing: that I am one of the few people to admit to what I shall rather refer to as over-zealous drinking.
It goes on, we know that, because politicians, health workers and cultural commentators – you know, people who know what’s better for us than we do – tell us so.
They tell us it is costing the taxpayer whatever the latest figure is they’ve worked out – probably down the pub on the back of a fag packet – and that Something Must Be Done.
But they never quite tell us who binge drinks.
We know this: that it isn’t, for example, those Whitehall health workers who enjoy a couple of bottles of claret with a meal after a hard day; that it isn’t those MPs whose patronage keeps some 20 House of Commons bars in healthy profit; that it isn’t even the PM, who, as a members of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club, partook in the civilised smashing up of a restaurant.
No, over-zealous drinking is always the behaviour of someone else.
Which means it is always the behaviour of the young and the less well off because it is they who have no public voice to say: ‘Well, yeah, I enjoy a pint in Wetherspoons but, frankly, even that’s stretching things since the bankers – you know, those lads who celebrated their bonuses with bottles of champagne worth more than my annual salary – took the economy for a burton’.
Except, of course, what nonsense.
Because getting wasted is nothing if not a leveller; done by people from all walks of life; rich, poor and those in between.
And adding a couple of quid to a bottle of sauce isn’t going to stop that Whitehall health worker wine-supping his nights away, nor stop the next generation of Camerons taking a proverbial dump in the dessert dish of an Indian; nor even stop my bouts of stupidity.
We’ll all budget it in somewhere.
Rather, it will simply price the voiceless more out of their own lives; take away another pleasure in the name of do-gooding; squeeze more pips which have been squeezed too much already.
In a nutshell, the policy is not just practically useless, it is a form of despicable class discrimination.