Wednesday, August 10, 2005


The greatest bit of Paul Gascoigne's England career was the ending of it - when Glen Hoddle called him to the office to tell him he was dropped, in a bid to defuse the situation, Hoddle stuck on some music. Kenny G, in fact.

Now, Cheshire Police are calling on pubs in the county to follow Hoddle's lead - they want disorderly pubs to play 'gentler' music in the run-up to closing time in a bid to stop trouble and blood spilling out on to the streets.

The Cheshire force, in its response to a government consultation, has urged ministers to go further to "drive at the heart of the binge drinking culture". Its additional regulations would include forcing drinkers to sit down and compelling pubs to sell soft drinks only within 30 minutes of closing time.

We're not sure the extent to which cutting drinking time by thirty minutes is going to actually slow down the rate at which people drink their booze - our experience suggests that it will encourage people to buy extra booze thirty minutes early. We love the idea of making sure everyone sits down, though - presumably the Cheshire Police are picturing some sort of giant, grog-fuelled musical chairs. Or they could just play Sit Down by James, whereupon everyone will Sit Down. Maybe that's where the idea for their other plan came from:

"The culture of extremely loud music for the entirety of the licensed hours also creates something of an aggressive feel at these premises.

"Some licensees change their music and play gentler music more quietly towards the end of permitted hours, which has a calming effect."

We're far from convinced that anyone who's been drinking since two in the afternoon is going to be dissuaded from attacking a vicar with a bicycle pump just because the last pint they drank was accompanied by the sounds of the theme from All Creatures Great and Small, but we guess every little helps. Possibly.

The landlords are not convinced, although neither are their arguments against entirely convincing:

Jez Horrill, of Telfords Warehouse, said though hell-raising songs are not usually the order of the day in his pub, he could not see regulars coming out to listen to Celine Dion. He said: "I can see the point in terms of noise pollution but not when you're talking about tackling binge drinking.

"If it goes too far in that direction, you would end up with people holding their own house and rock parties at home and then you would have a noise issue."

Hmm... this does conjur up a lovely image that people go to drink in the 'three pints for a fiver' type of bar because of the quality of their jukeboxes. "I was going to order a yard of ale for sixty pence, but since there's no Iron Maiden on the jukie I shall go home..."

Some, at least, have got the grace to admit that maybe it's all the booze rather than the beats that cause the problems:

Neville Sidebottom, the licensee at Politic, a private members bar on Watergate Street, Chester, says police should tackle chains who target young people with bargain-priced alcopops.

He said: "Loud banging beat music is not really my cup of tea but I don't think that it makes people aggressive. Not everybody wants easy listening music. The problem with binge drinking is an inherent culture problem in this country. I don't think the type of music we play makes any difference. We need to look at the real cause of the issue; licensed premises with happy hours, selling cheap alcopops to young people."

Quentin Crisp, of course, used to blame all rock music for all violence - claiming that the heavy beat stirred up passions which could only find their outlet through violence. He might have a point, but on the other hand - should we take the word of a man who elected to wear hats like that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't Robert Miles do something remotely similar with his 'Children' track? I recall that one of the reasons that he wrote the song was because he wanted pillheads in trance clubs to drive home safely?

Mind you, anything from Robert Miles abysmal "24am" album makes me want to down strong lager and chin people. You win some. . .

Darren H.

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