Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Youth Clubz

It had been a while since our last visit to the Guardian's website. We used to come by regularly for the comment section, but too many Polly Toynbee columns began corroding our soul...and we drifted off to the blogs' echo chamber. But we came back today to get a handle on the news, and came by this nugget on the new drink laws. Reading it was a revelation - we've either got very old, very authoritarian, or very reasonable.

The English labour under drinking laws that were first enacted during the Great War, laws which were designed to keep munitions workers from getting lagered during their lunch breaks, far as we can tell. They have, obviously, been somewhat modified since then, but there is still no god-given right to keep one's gin palace open till 4am on the books. Nor, you might add, is there any guarantee that one can find a drink at any time in several US counties.

But when we first moved here the contrast was clear and 4am liver-destruction was a big selling point of New York over London. This despite the fact that in various pockets of Soho and Islington one can drink quite safely until at least 2am. We at first welcomed the change in the UK's laws to allow 24-hour drinking, in part because we really did believe that it would encourage a gentler appproach to drinking, but also because we wanted to drink late.

So what's changed? We don't drink till 4am much these days, at least not in bars, and the only places we do like drinking late would either close at 11 to get some bloody sleep, or possibly have a lock-in, if they were in the mood. We've also come gradually to the conclusion that the British aren't good around drink. While you might wish to conjure up a view of britons drinking happily around the town square like the trully lovely French town of Saumur, that ain't what's on the cards. Torremolinos or possibly Ibiza is what's on the cards.

We can imagine instead streets packed with drink touts, terrible loud bars, and fights. Lots of fights. Or, as the senior coppers' conclave Acpo puts it:

"One only has to look to popular holiday destinations to see the effect of allowing British youth unrestricted access to alcohol,"

And there's the rub. Ya can't trust a Brit around booze.

We were rooting around for a suitably lurid picture to accompany this post (we are trying to wean ourselves off hotlinking to other people's images), and stumbled across the next Goldie Lookin' Chain. For those of you not in the know, this is the growing movement of Chav-Rock. GLC are really tangential to this movement, but Youth Of Britain, or YOB, for short, are the real deal. The music has its moments, some of which get close to sounding like Faith No More, although it's not hugely inspiring. The band don't help theselves with this pompous little mission statement:

"YOB make music and visuals for a generation force fed a diet of Bullshit. We live in a world where what we see is what we get but not necessarily what we want. YOB is freedom of speech and expression, truth, knowing it and speaking it."

We then amble over to the video section to watch The Governor, a colourless rant about welfare cheats, with a Parklife verse, and the Faith No More chorus. Not so fun. But the visuals? A good thirty seconds of amusement - Burberry-clad cats with guitars jumping up and down in time to the music. Well, we liked it anyway.


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