Wednesday, 19 October 2011


(A quick drive-by blog this evening. I have an article to finish by tomorrow).

There is much consternation over Asda's pricing of a box of Budweiser at less than 50p a bottle. It's going to cause binge drinking! People might have a good time! Something must be done! Theeenk of the cheeeldren!

Well, as far as I am concerned, that's still too high a price for Budweiser. You get 24 bottles in that box and reading the article, you'd be forgiven for thinking that everyone buying such a box plans to drink the whole thing themselves at one sitting. Not everyone does.

I don't buy a lot of beer. Sometimes I can get a box of Boddington's or John Smith's on special offer and a 12-can box will last about a week. Seriously. Too much at one sitting and I'm visiting the wee room at all hours and it's far too cold for nocturnal urination now. Beer and cider are normally early-evening drinks, whisky or brandy are the late-evening drinks because of the low volume involved. Well, relatively low volume anyway.

I have to say, I appreciate those special offers so I can get a beer supply in at low price. It doesn't go off too quickly so you can stock up for weeks in advance if there's a good offer on. 

Bargain drink deals from supermarkets have been criticised by doctors, the  police and the charity Alcohol Concern for fuelling binge drinking among the  young, resulting in violence, disorder and ill-health.

Well, you could argue that the cheap booze fuels the binge, but really, some people are just going to binge and to hell with the cost. Look at heroin: it's illegal and expensive but people get it anyway. How do they afford it? Often by mugging people for the money. Make the binge drinkers' 'hit' expensive and they'll steal the money too.  The drink is not the problem. It's the yobbish drinker that causes problems -and that's because they can get away with it. "He was plastered, Yer Onna," is a common attempt at mitigation these days.

The essence of the article is that Asda are 'irresponsible' for selling bat's piss at that price. I rarely visit Asda, not for any nefarious reason, it's just that Morrison's and Tesco are much closer. If I were to visit, here's what Asda are responsible for in my book.

Making sure the trolleys work and mostly go in roughly the direction you want them to go. Stacking things so that they don't fall on customers. Making sure the food isn't mouldy.and doesn't have rats in it. Making sure the till operators can operate tills and don't bite the customers. That's the sort of thing they are responsible for. They are not responsible for what you do with your purchases once you've left the shop.

If you buy a baseball bat in there and use it to mug pensioners, if you buy a pack of bacon and wave it at a passing Jewish parade, if you buy rat poison and bake it into a cake for the Church fete, are Asda responsible?

No. If I sell you a book and you use it to start a fire, my selling you the book does not make me responsible for your arsonist tendencies (although I might put 'Please read responsibly' on the next one just for fun). Likewise, if I buy two bottles of whisky in a supermarket, it is not the supermarket's responsibility to advise me not to pour both into a bucket, add a splash of mineral water and down the lot in one swallow.

I'm not going to do that. Whisky is far too expensive to waste like that. The point is, if I were to do that, it is not the responsibility of whoever sold me the whisky. The responsibility for such a wasteful act and the horrible stomach-emptying-through-every-orifice consequences would be mine, and mine alone.

If you sell me booze, it becomes my booze the moment I pay for it. Not your booze and not your responsibility. I can drink it at a pace that still allows me to write without too many mistakes, or I can down it until the most coherent vocalisation I can manage is 'Graaaah' and can no longer spell it. My choice, and if I make the wrong one, my problem.

Oh, I know, 'cost to the NHS'. Sod them. I've paid in far more than I could ever use. If you don't want your taxes paying for my treatment, don't worry about it. Mine have more than covered anything I might one day need. Currently I'm one of those paying in and not taking out so take the 'cost to the NHS' and ram it up the nearest Lansley. The only way you'll ever stop paying for it is to close it down, you know. Nothing else will change that. Even if all known diseases were cured tomorrow, the NHS will still spend as much.

Blaming the supermarkets for what they sell is just ignoring the real problem. Drunken louts are drunken louts and as long as the courts accept 'drunk' as an excuse for 'lout' that will not change. The price is irrelevant - these are louts, they will steal to get the money or they will buy dodgy backstreet brews and they will get drunk anyway.

Meanwhile, those of us who are not louts pay the penalty in higher prices.


john miller said...

As MP for Lower Cruddup, I was so overcome with distress at the news that I shouted to my intern (to whom I do not pay the minimum wage): "I'm off for a fag in the Commons bar!"

I sat there, puffing away, gloomily staring into my glass of Gevry Chambertin, which fortunately is only £9.99 a bottle in this place.

JuliaM said...

"If you buy a baseball bat in there and use it to mug pensioners, if you buy a pack of bacon and wave it at a passing Jewish parade, if you buy rat poison and bake it into a cake for the Church fete, are Asda responsible?"

Please don't give these loons ideas!

Curmudgeon said...

That isn't even all that cheap. It's over 30p per alcohol unit. There will be quite a few ciders offering more bangs per buck than that. It's well above the duty+VAT amount, which I reckon is about 33p a bottle. It's almost certainly above the amount ASDA paid AB InBev on their invoice for it. What is the problem?

Captain Haddock said...

"I'm off for a fag in the Commons bar!"

Shouldn't take you long then .. target-rich environment and all that .. ;)

And anyone who drinks Budweiser deserves a good slagging-off .. ;) ;)

Elby the Beserk said...

Are we talking Budweiser Budwar or the coloured gnat's piss the Americans call "beer"?

Just asking...

On a flight to SF, I asked the stewardess what beer they had. Oh, she said, Budweiser, Coors, Schlitz... I responded - Sorry, I wanted for a beer. She got it.

Elby the Beserk said...

Mr. Miller wrote "Gevry Chambertin, which fortunately is only £9.99 a bottle in this place."

But what does the Gevrey Chambertin cost? :-)

tinks said...

The hysteria over alcohol from the usual suspects, to me, just confirms that the state and its hangers-on is simply too big.

As you explain, like the class bully, problems are caused by the few, and laws are in place to deal with that, yet we all pay the price.

So what if supermarkets have offers on beer, like they do on every other product, it's all part of product marketing, and call me stupid if I like a bargain, one that will save me money over time. It doesn't change my drinking regime or my behaviour. I'm more likely pleased that my eye for a bargain has saved me a few bob.

And sometimes with the shite that life and TPTB throw at us, we need a drink.

Leg-iron said...

Elby the Berserk - I suspect it's pone of those where if you have to ask the price, you either can't afford it or you;re not on MP's expenses.

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