There is some debate in these fair lands about whether the on and off-trade should be treated differently. The theory being that preference should be given to the on-trade as it represents the more responsible and better regulated side of alcohol consumption. The off-trade is often regarded as being responsible for cheap booze and subsequent social problems.
Well, across la Manche, the authorities in Lyon are about to put that idea into practice. After years of denial, the French are finally admitting that they have a problem with that Anglo-Saxon curse: le binge drinking. And yes, that is what they call it in the land of the smelly cheese.
As of Monday this week, shops will be forbidden to sell alcohol between the hours of 10pm and 6am. This is to counter what Lyon officials describe as the “massive and brutal” summer consumption of alcohol in public. The ban will run until the 10th of September and shopkeepers caught breaching the ban could face fines of €750.
This sort of social experiment throws up a myriad of questions and possibilities. What effect will this have on the problem? Will youngsters drink less or simply frequent pubs and bars more often? Will there be a surge of desperate drinkers at 21:59 trying to stockpile their booty?
Of course, should such a measure be tried over here, I would expect people to be manning burning barriers and carrying out raiding parties. For is not the right to booze after 10pm one of our hardest fought-for civil rights?