With all the brawling and head-butting that goes on there, I've always been surprised that Brits have remained so apparently passive about the government closing their pubs at 11pm. (I mean, pick practically any boring city in America and you can find a place that will serve you after 11:00.)
But now there are plans to let pubs stay open all night:
- Opposition lawmakers and the police want the new law to be delayed until Britain brings violent and disruptive binge drinking under control.
But the government says it will implement the law on schedule. Starting Feb. 7, pub and restaurant owners may apply for licenses to remain open around the clock. The extended hours will become effective in November, when the government issues an order in Parliament.
This is not a concession to debauchery, because more freedom can also mean more safety.
Take college drinking. Many underage students get blitzed at $5 all-you-can-drink keggers, where the goal is to drink as much as possible as quickly as possible. Yet it's against the law for them to sip a pint at the local microbrewery.
That seems to be the kind of government-imposed screwiness that prompted the change in Britain:
- Few establishments are expected to stay open for 24 hours, and Prime Minister Tony Blair's government believes that allowing them to choose closing times will encourage a more relaxed attitude to drinking, like that of continental Europeans.
As it now stands, many drinkers in Britain imbibe as much as they can as quickly as they can before the last call bell rings. Then they all stumble into the streets at the same time, often leading to fights and other drunken misbehavior.