Obviously, I love the Association of Chief Police Officers’ call for £400-a-night “drunk tanks”, having passed the point in life – I hope, at least – when I’ll ever need one. “Why don’t we take them to a drunk cell owned by a commercial company and get the commercial company to look after them during the night until they are sober?” Acpo’s Adrian Lee said, sounding like a man who had met one “pre-loader” in a batman costume too many. “When that is over, we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care, which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent.”
So yes, hooray for Adrian. Or at least, I think. It’s easier to decry Saturday night piss-heads and demand change and retribution when one is no longer really part of the demographic. There’s a point in a young woman’s life when marauding the town centre on a Saturday evening, three sheets to the wind, wearing a skirt which holds no truck with covering bum cheeks, can be enormously appealing.
This diminishes with years, until eventually by one’s late thirties, one would cheerfully have the local strip of fun pubs grassed over and replaced with a big yoga mat and a stall selling baking beads. Nowadays, when I see characters like Charlotte Crosby from MTV’s Geordie Shore – winner of this year’s Celebrity Big Brother – I witness her proud delight in regularly soiling herself through alcohol, and wonder if it’s really the job of the NHS to hold their noses and wipe people like Charlotte’s arses for them. Or wonder, rather sniffily, if it’s the police’s job to taxi them home? In fact, would a couple of £400 fines work as a reminder to people to evacuate their bowels into a toilet, or perhaps stop drinking before any shred of dignity has departed?
Of course, Charlotte would be at perfect liberty here to remind me that my generation swallowed tons of ecstasy, speed and acid then menaced the motorways between home and nightclub, ushered in the age of the NHS booze bus and “recovery gazebo”, and invented the term “ladette” to denote a woman who goes out and gets hammered like a man.
In fact, Charlotte could argue that the only major irrefutable difference between today and yesteryear nuisance behaviour is that in 2013, after three short years of Tory influence, we’re simply more likely to see drunks as a money-making opportunity.
Just imagine the revenue that could be totted up if the police could dispatch special constables who were as vigilant – and as bloody infuriating at times – as traffic wardens to round up drunks at £400 a go? It’s bad enough trying to argue – while stone-cold sober and perfectly in the right – that your front tyre wasn’t 5mm on to a yellow line. How do you prove you’re not very, very drunk and harming anyone without shouting: “I am not bloody drunk. I’m not going to the drunk tank. This is a conspiracy to make money!” Which already, let’s face it, sounds like the clarion cry of the completely pissed.
And imagine how much NHS funding could be slashed by the Government if statistics then said that, in the light of these drunk tanks’ roaring success, A&E wards were quite empty of a weekend? And more pressing than all of this for me is, who exactly will be staffing these privately-run overnight cells for the inebriated aside from, I’ll take a guess here, people not quite professional and qualified enough to be actual, official government-regulated policemen or nurses?
OK, this is starting to sound like the ominous beginnings of an Eli Roth movie. And bearing in mind that £400 is a wedge of money – in fact it’s exactly what a night in a crap motel, a consultation with a private nurse and some taxi expenses might cost – how will they extract it from the low-waged afterwards? I’m guessing via court fines, bailiffs and, if all else fails, punishment by prison.
I shall watch the ensuing booze-related chaos with interest, just not at midnight on Saturday, when I shall be sound asleep in bed.
The Voice? Shut it
Ex-JLS star Marvin Humes is another celebrity name, after Kylie Minogue and Emma Wills, to sign up for series three of The Voice, BBC1’s expensive, flawed nonsense masquerading as a talent show, on its return in January.
The show’s two previous winners, Leanne Mitchell and Andrea Begley, could not be more anonymous if they’d joined Mossad and were working on a deep-cover plot in Iran.
Coincidentally, if I have to endure Tom Jones tell his anecdote about knowing Elvis Presley one more time, I may look into joining a group of highly trained yet untraceable killers myself.
It’s OK for me – I’ve had my breakfast this morning
The news that from next September an extra 1.5 million children will qualify for a free daily school meal, is, to my mind, quite fantastic.
For many complex reasons, which us adults could quibble and sling stones about all day long, thousands of children attend school each day unfed and return home to nothing substantial. Instances of teachers buying bread from their own pockets, simply to provide a bit of warmth and fuel with morning toast, are commonplace.
These children are the small, silent and often wholly embarrassed starving, and while we bicker about where the extra £437-a-year per child might come from, and who is at fault, and who should be cooking, it pleases me that somewhere hungry kids will eat.
Former Labour Welfare minister Frank Field harrumphed about the plan, saying the money could be better spent on support for poor children pre-school age. “If one was looking for ways to ensure every child fulfils his potential,” he said. “This would fall early in the debate.”
With respect, this is hogwash. But of course I have the energy to reason, think and debate about this because I have the easy privilege of daily breakfast, lunch and dinner.