Monday, May 28, 2007

Wowsers control news agenda

I often emerge from my fitful slumbers around the time the first news bulletins come up on Radio 4. These seem to be becoming increasingly divorced from anything that can rightly be called 'news' (though, happily, priorities often shift later as some real stories come in) - and increasingly dominated of late by the anti-alcohol wowsers, who won't rest until this nation is teetotal. Today's meaningless headline-grabber (so meaningless that I can't find a single link to it) was a proposal that all bottles and cans must be labelled with the number of 'alcohol units' they contain - a measure that would have zero effect, but keeps up the pressure to present all alcoholic drinks as poisons. A short while back came the ludicrous 'advice' that parents should not allow a drop of alcohol to pass their children's lips before the age of 18, as drinking at home leads to binge drinking on the street. This has been firmly knocked on the head since, but it still became, briefly, a big 'story'. Then, a few days ago, new 'guidelines' were issued, declaring that pregnant women should not drink at all. The beauty of this one was that those proposing it cheerfully admitted that this was not in line with the best (though still ultra-cautious) medical advice. They were working on the assumption that people - especially pregnant women, bless their fluffy little heads - are incapable of understanding such nuanced advice, so the best thing is to issue a blanket ban. This is worse than patronising, and it points to a much larger phenomenon that has blighted the nation under Blair/Brown - the erosion of Judgment in both personal and professional life, and its replacement with legalistic structures of compliance and proscription. This is a large theme, and I feel the metaphorical pen falling from my weary fingers at the thought (that's the trouble with fitful sleeping) - perhaps someone Out There will pick it up (the theme, that is - you'd be wasting your time looking for the pen)...?


  1. Susan B., rememberingMay 28, 2007 4:56 pm

    Wasn't it Blair's son who got falling-down drunk when he was well under 18? Was it because he'd never had a wee drop at home on Christmas before then?

  2. You're quite right, Susan - and that might well have been the explanation. Either that or he was just being a complete arse, in the time-honoured fashion of teenage boys. It was certainly a clear case of binge drinking and a warning to us all. Just Say No.

  3. Some years ago, while chatting with a Swiss girl. I asked her how she would best describe the Helvetic Republic, leaving aside the Alps, gnomes, alp horns, Swiss army knifes and cuckoo clocks. Her answer was,'If it was not prohibited it was mandatory'.

  4. I mentioned a while back the immense Dostoevsky/Dmitri Karamazov quote, 'Man is broad, too broad even. I would narrow him down.' Well, afraid I don't have the energy to pursue your crucial avenue of thought in much depth right now, but for the good part of a century there seems to have been huge efforts to narrow man down to as little as possible; the idea I suppose expounded by the DH Lawrence character, Rampion, in Point Counter Point:
    'The industrialists who purvey standardized ready-made amusements to the masses are doing their best to make you as much of a mechanical imbecile in your leisure as in your hours of work. But don't let them. Make the effort of being human.'