Friday, September 24, 2010

On neo-wowsers - an open letter to Karl du Fresne

Mr du Fresne,

As it is Friday, my copy of the Listener has been retrieved from its hiding place on top of the fridge giving me the opportunity to read your article.

I am not going to disagree with you in any way. In fact I am somewhat disappointed that you left out what might be seen as possible solutions to the complaints of the neo-wowsers.

We agree that the "booze problem" exists, driven as you have said by the neo-wowsers whose consumption of alchohol is limited to that tablespoon of brandy in the Christmas pud; nothing more than that. Oh, that and perhaps the occasional wetting of the lips with the communion wine.

As I see it, there are two problems to be resolved.

The first is the consequence of lowering the drinking age. What to do about that? It might be interesting to see how many of the neo-wowsers suddenly picked up "NO YOU DON'T" signs if it were proposed to reinstate age 20. Oh, and at that point I cannot help but wonder how many of the neo-wowser camp would support the reduction of the alchohol level for driving from .08 to .05 ...

The second is like so many of these social problems. It is the few, the bottom 5% or perhaps 10%, whose excesses will spoil the enjoyment of a good pinot (gris or noir) with a meal out, or in for that matter
So, rather than wailing in the wind about the neo-wowsers spoiling our fun we should give them some real suggestions on how to handle the problem; that basement 10%.

My first reaction is to keep it cheap. It is totally apparent that trying to prevent them from driving is a lost cause. Fines and other monetary penalties likewise have become a badge of pride rather than approbrium. Providing drinking drivers with free board and lodging for a week, ten days or a few hours would cost too much. Besides, I (and I suspect a large number of others) might appreciate the opportunity to voice our displeasure in person and on their person.
If you dig back to the time of Dickens there was a common punishment for a wide range of social misdemeanours perhaps or not including public drunkenness.

I can but wonder how many recidivist drunks and driving louts there would be around town after a spell of a couple hours - or days for the very worst - in the town stocks. Rotten tomatos, very mouldy fruit, very smelly eggs... it could even end with a wash-down under a firehose. User pays? Bring it on!! Fifty cents for a bag of three eggs... or bring your own.

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