Short back and sides, sir? And would you like a gin and tonic with that?

It could be easier (and cheaper) for businesses that aren’t pubs, clubs or bars to serve small amounts of booze for money

Share

Does alcohol play a big enough part in our lives? Should we be drinking more booze, or drinking more often? Should it be available in places other than the pub, the restaurant or your kitchen table? You’d expect the Government, if asked, to shout “No!” to such questions, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong.

A new Home Office paper, snappily entitled “Next steps following the consultation on delivering the Government’s alcohol strategy” sets out ways of “curbing excessive drinking”. It soberly reports on its consultative chats with the drinks industry, health organisations and the cops, and threatens “targeted action” at national and local level… and then, out of the blue, it offers something quite unexpected.

On page 16, it announces that, to “foster civil society,” the Government will reduce the red-tape burden on small businesses that want an “ancillary” drinks licence. This will make it easier (and cheaper) for business that aren’t pubs, clubs or bars to serve small amounts of booze for money. No need to apply in triplicate and face “hearings” – proprietors of “low-risk environments” can simply pay a few quid and break out the Bollinger to startled customers. The kind of thing the Government has in mind is “offering a glass of wine with a haircut or a bottle of wine in B&B accommodation”.

But we’re not going to stop with hairdressers, are we? Classy fashion houses already offer their devotees free mineral water or tea while they mull over designer threads; now they can sell them prosecco or Aperol spritzes. Any shop where customers take time considering their purchases would be enlivened by a tray of vodkatinis at £5 a pop: I’m thinking art gallery, posh flower shop, wallpaper emporium – but probably not a car showroom.

Why stop there? Private health clinics would benefit from a small bar in the consultancy rooms (“I’ve got bad news, Mr Green – would you like some French brandy? Only £7.95”). Negotiating a bank loan would go with a swing if the chap with the suit said, “Frankly, your overdraft record is nothing short of dismal – but look, here comes the drinks trolley…” British advertising offices would be transformed into the early episodes of Mad Men, left, every meeting awash with gin highballs. The BBC could get involved: how nice if a debate on Newsnight were mellowed by drink (“What you’ve just said, Minister, is a tissue of lies – but would you care for a small Tia Maria?”)

Oh yes, I think that would do a lot to foster civil society. Sorry, did you say “Foster’s”?

Village hall bondage is hard to beat

The story about the Trumpington village hall is fabulously English, isn’t it? It is used for bingo and boy scouts, so when a series of “relationship support meetings” was booked, the manager thought nothing of it. To local dismay, they were classes in bondage, discipline, spanking and caning. What amuses me isn’t the fact that activities were punctuated by tea and biscuits; it’s the programme note that ends, “We’d very much appreciate it if you could help us pack up.” Just try to imagine the Marquis de Sade stacking chairs, while masticating a Hobnob…

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Whoever and whatever Arthur was, he wasn’t Scottish

Guy Keleny
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea