They have some Very Weird Drinking Laws Around Here

Last night, as I mentioned before, I headed over to Sainsbury’s to do my holiday shopping. I live near one of the bigger ones (for my friends in the Netherlands, think Albert Heijn XL) which stays open till midnight. I hate crowds, so I figured that if I went late enough no sane person would be shopping. I thought I’d be basically by myself, and perhaps one stressed out mom who ran back because she forgot something.

Turns out, a lot of people were just as crazy or deluded as me. It was pretty crowded. As usual, I quickly started to imagine everyone turning into shopping-crazed zombie. I don’t know why I do that, because it freaks me out… But it’s just that people in crowds always get these dead, emotionless eyes. And when I see it, I always think they are slowly turning into zombies. Like an awful virus has spread through the air vents and everyone is turning into a walking robot zombie with no lights in their eyes. Usually I run like hell.

But I did not run out of the store yelling ‘Death to consumerism and all Robot Zombies!’ No sir, not this time. I stayed and worked my way down the list like a real hero, only glancing a few times over my shoulder to make sure no one was sneaking up on me to chew my brains out through my nose (It happens!)

I survived, only to realize I’d forgotten a few things and mustface that hell once more. Currently I’m sipping a nice cappuccino, mustering the strength to go back there. Because if it is that crowded at 11pm, imagine what it’ll look like at 4 in the afternoon. Thank god, there will probably be kids now, who do not have developed dead zombie eyes yet. If the zombies do show up and want to eat my brains out I’ll just throw one of them in their way.

But regardless of how many consumerist zombies there may be, face the shopping crowd I must (I speak like Yoda sometimes when I am scared. I always imagine the force rushing to my aid, confused to find that I am not a handsome green goblin but a funny-looking pale-skinned blonde (there’s no accounting for taste with the force).) The things I do for a decent Malibu Coke.

But I digress. When I finally reached the checkout, the cashier asked me how old I was. So I said, true to fact, 25. And she asked me for my ID, and I gave her my driver’s license. I though nothing of it at the moment… But as I walked home, I realized that it was kinda weird. I have been legally allowed to drink for over 7 years (and more if you count the 2 years I was allowed to drink beer and wine and such). And I wondered if perhaps you couldn’t buy alcohol here before you were 25 or something. Why else would the woman have required my ID. It’s not like I look remotely like I am 21. (Although to be fair, most 21-year-olds look 25 these days. Imagine what they’ll look like when they’re 35. :).

So, when I got home I looked up the legal drinking age in the UK. I checked it on Wikipedia, so it might all be bogus. But I choose to believe it because it amuses me. Most of it is all pretty much normal, but there were these two lines that really struck me as odd.



18[2] Children under 5 must not be given alcohol unless under medical supervision or in an emergency (Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937).[73][74]

Between the ages of 5 and 18, it is legally permissible for children to drink alcohol at home or at a friend’s house with the permission of a parent or legal guardian.[75]

I suspect that the emergency is when you are trapped on a mountain and freezing your ass off and all you have on you is a giant bottle of Whiskey (don’t you hate those situations). It kinda makes sense, but do you even need to put that in the law? What freaking insane person would feed that holy ambrosia to a child? That’s just wasteful. In fact, the way I see it.. putting it in the law only opens up possibilities for me to get my child drunk.

For instance,  if I had a kid and she was 4 years old, and I just had to run to the store for some Christmas shopping, or say I just craved a cup of coffee out and I didn’t want to bring my daughter. Would that count as an emergency, and would it therefore be legally OK for me to give her just enough Vodka that she wouldn’t come to her senses for a few hours (God, imagine the hangover tantrums) so I can go out?! The law isn’t completely clear on that. I would say it does constitute an emergency. These laws are so subjective, aren’t they??

And then the bit that between the ages of 5 and 18 it’s OK to drink at home or a friend’s house. That’s just weird. It’s like they want their kids to turn out like the charming lady lying on the bench at the top of this post. I think there’s been enough research that showed how detrimental to the development of the brain (think what a genius I could have been If I hadn’t started drinking so young) alcohol is.

And what if some deadbeat mom let’s her kid drink at the age of 6. My well-spoken, self-reliant genius child would come over to play, and just come home hammered because Mrs. Slacker said he could have a beer? And there you are… Your child has discovered alcohol at an age they sure as hell don’t need it because they still have their imagination intact and the world hasn’t really taken a dump on them yet either. (Don’t drink kids…not until you are 30. At least)

Well, England. You have once again confirmed that all my prejudices are true and you are a nation of insane alcoholics. Congratulations. I feel like I belong here…

O, and for the record. You can buy Alcohol here at the age of 18. So, apparently I look like an 18 year old. Which makes my mom the worst mom in the world. What kind of mother would let her 18 year daughter old spend Christmas all by herself in a strange country with nothing but a bottle of Malibu and Tia Maria (it’s for the Tiramisu, I swear…) as friends.  Also, I’m a freaking genius for getting my Drivers License in less than a month. Kudos to me! (These are not my words, it is what the cashier was thinking when she saw me…. It isn’t exactly true. My mom is the only one who got me Christmas presents this far. And we all know I measure love by the amounts of gifts I get… Also, I am actually 25 and it took me over a year to get my drivers license.)

The legal age for the purchase of alcohol from an off-licence (store/supermarket) is 18. (The legal age to buy liqueur chocolates is 16, but this is rarely enforced.)

Under the BBPA‘s Challenge 21 scheme, customers attempting to buy alcoholic beverages are asked to prove their age if in the retailer’s opinion they look under 21 even though the law states they must be a minimum of 18. Many supermarket and off-licence chains display Challenge 21 notices stating that they will not serve persons who look under 21 without ID. (…)



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