Friday, 5 December 2014


Today Scotland's new drink-driving limits come into force, reducing from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml.  This reduction effectively means that if you are driving, your best bet is not to drink at all.  Cue expressions of outrage about the 'nanny state' and infringement of personal liberty.  There are also, however, many people supporting the measure, and calling for the rest of the UK, which has the highest drink-driving limit in the world now, to follow Scotland's lead.

I'm not against people drinking.  I enjoy a glass of red or a G&T as much as anyone.  However, since I passed my driving test I have made it a rule never to drink when I know I'm going to be driving afterwards.  If I'm driving the next morning, I'll stick to two drinks at most.  Judging by the comments on the Guardian article linked above though, that seems to be a very hard thing for a lot of people to do.

British people generally tend to have a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol.  We can see it every weekend in our towns and cities, where people are getting absolutely out of their heads on alcohol.  It's used as a social lubricant, but people seem not to know when enough is enough.  It's used as an excuse for bad behaviour which people don't want to take responsibility for.  People boast about how much they had to drink the night before and how bad their hangover is.

Watching the English by Kate Fox examines this topic, amongst many others.  Her conclusion is that we are a negative politeness culture, by which she means that socially we are a culture which prefers to ensure that other people are not imposed upon or inconvenienced by our actions.  Because of this, when we partake of drink we tend to go a bit overboard in the opposite direction.

I have never understood the need for people to try and work out how much alcohol they can have without being over the limit.  That may be because I don't feel the need to have alcohol to have a good time.  Many other people, however, do seem to feel they need alcohol in a social situation.  If that's you, make your local taxi company happy this Christmas and book them to take you to and from your festive parties.  Sláinte!

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