Published: 06/10/2005 Volume 115 No. 5976 Page 10
The amount we drink always makes for popular - if unenlightening - news stories. With BBC1 showing a daily documentary on alcohol this week there was a perfect excuse for a bout of binge writing.
First in the firing line were the yobs and binge drinkers. Britain's Streets of Booze, to be shown on BBC1 all week, was set to highlight in graphic terms the level of drunkenness on the average high street.
Unfortunately it was aired at 9.15am - a time of day when many of those responsible for the national mayhem were likely still to be in bed and therefore not ringing the BBC helpline.
Next in the firing line were pregnant women, another easy target in the booze war. With girls overtaking boys in their drinking, concern is growing over the consequences for their offspring, declared The Daily Telegraph.
Then there were the licensing laws. Culture secretary Tessa Jowell outlined the case for pressing ahead with the new Licensing Act in the face of Guardian readers' ire. In short, it will benefit the responsible majority while tougher police powers will curb excessive drinking by the irresponsible few.
An unlikely scenario, harrumphed Lib Dem spokesman on culture media and sport Don Foster, writing in The Guardian. We do not even use the existing police powers, he pointed out.
Martin Plant of the University of the West of England set out the level of rising alcohol consumption.
Drunkenness, he declared, is at epidemic levels and will only rise further.
Liverpool beer festival organiser Steve Downing made a plea in The Guardian to disentangle your yobs from your perfectly respectable law-abiding binge drinkers, among whom he counts himself.
At the time of writing, no-one had wheeled out the 'continentals seem to manage their drinking perfectly well as I observed on my summer holiday in Tuscany' argument. It was only a matter of time, though.