Do read the BBC News article – “‘Child Alcohol Guide’ for parents” because it is a wonderful example of another difference between Great Britain and the U.S.A.
Yesterday I went out to buy some beer for our New Year’s Eve party and I got ID-ed. Now for those of you living in Britain this meant that I had to pull out my credit-card sized driver’s license so they could confirm my date of birth and identity (and if you’re still running on just a paper license keep it as long as you can, the new two-parter doesn’t have the great section about driving tanks on L-plates on the back). Most stores have a blanket policy of ID-ing everyone who appears under 30 years of age because the legal age for purchasing is 21 over here.
Now that isn’t too different to the UK’s 18 years of age law for purchasing, but the impact on the social mindset is hugely different. Although there don’t appear to be specific rules on consumption in the home I know most parents, and many teenagers who balk at the idea of consuming alcohol in their own home before the age of 21, which strikes me as a little weird. I recall being allowed a glass of champagne to celebrate the new year, or a glass of wine with Christmas dinner from an early age. I remember the fun of Christmas carol services and being allowed a glass of sherry and a mince-pie afterwards, and I remember being allowed a bitter shandy in the pub after a morning working up the field from about teh age of 12. This meant that by the time I neared 18 I didn’t have this pathological urge to binge drink myself into a coma. Now I’m older and wiser, and have lived in the US for long enough now that my tollerance is fading, but even so I find it bizarre that a young adult here can vote, join the army, fight and die for their country, but can’t enjoy a swift half with their mates!
Unfortunately the flip side of this coin is the Labour Government’s response as seen in the news article. The sad state of affairs is that the common sense attitude that my friends and I were raised under has been carefully eroded and now the government must tell parents how much red wine little Kelly and David can chug at their 6th birthday party! Where did it all go so wrong?
Ah well, look on the bright side, I can now point to how civilised Britain is when it comes to drinking laws next time we head out for lunch at work 😉