"Responsible Drinking? Now that's an Oxymoron" (Aaron Howard).
A conclusion, it would seem, arrived at recently by that wonderful college of serial nutcases, the Royal College of Psychiatrists who have determined that people who have successfully navigated life to the age of 65 are now miraculously incapable of deciding whether or not to have an alcoholic drink and need to be closely monitored.
Frankly, I have met only a few psychiatrists (well, qualified ones) in my life and as a result I have generally formed a rather "distrustful" opinion of them. One was absolutely an alcoholic and I did worry about his patients, and another was barking mad - at least away from his professional life, which was perhaps a release! Now, however, the Royal College has said Britain suffers from a generation of "Invisible Addicts" - (booze and drugs, it seems), and that once people hit 65 years of age they should be subject to routine alcohol and drug tests.
Their recommendations suggest that men (and sorry ladies, you get less) should consume no more than one and half units of alcohol a day. Given that a standard large glass of wine is two units of alcohol, that means if enforced in Hong Kong the revenue of certain exclusive Clubs with a slightly older members profile would go downhill very rapidly!! I suspect too, that so would some of the members!
And I accused Hong Kong of being a "nanny state" when they assumed that people here were incapable of reading ingredients on food labels, and introduced a whole series of rules that has removed certain well known foods - sold freely in developed countries whose inhabitants can presumably read better than we can - from our shelves. But I digress.
But why am I so exercised about the UK pronouncement? I am not, after all, a large consumer of alcohol at the best of times and can equally happily take it or leave it. No - it is the "age" thing. As a man of a certain age, I have a particular interest in pronouncements that suggest I, (and others of my vintage), am incapable of making up my own mind. Of course, there are people less fortunate than us who probably do need looking after at an earlier age, but do we need to make "testing" a catch all?
I would be less vigorous in my defence of certain age-related issues if, for example, there was a suggestion that people at the age of 75 or over were required (as I believe they are in certain countries - even earlier), to pass a basic driving test on a regular basis - rather than merely certifying that they can still see objects 10 metres ahead (is that with, or without, one and a half units of alcohol?). But that sort of issue, to me, is more common sense.
But don't get me wrong. Of course there are reasons that lead people to drink more when they are bored and if retirement, for some, means sitting in a chair day in and day out in front of a television they might indeed resort to drink. And they might require to be watched - but then I assume the results of the regular testing would be advisory only and would not lead to a judge's "banning order" so that Mr Smith is "hereby sentenced to a court order banning him from the consumption of alcohol". What's the point?
That aside, it seems to me that there are some opportunities here. First of all, keep people active for longer as some countries are trying to do, by raising the retirement age. Encourage healthy exercise for the older generation. Yes, there are some communities that do that - but not all of them make it attractive. Can't it be done?
And perhaps there is a market for the development of drinks that are non-alcoholic and taste good to adults. Don't you think that advertisers glamourise alcohol? Nice bottles, good labeling, advertising, whereas soft drinks are often ordinary, with a boring lack of variety, either very sweet or diet (nothing much in between), aimed at a non-alcohol drinking age group, rather than a discerning older group? Have you tasted raw carrot juice? It doesn't even look nice. (Innocent Drinks excepted perhaps - if you like that sort of thing).
Investment proposals in a sealed brown envelope please!
Message for the Royal College of Psychiatrists? Not all 65 year old people are incapable (yet!) of making up their own mind, and as I head off for lunch with my non-drinking elderly Mother who actually gave up alcohol - one gin and tonic a day - of her own volition at the age of 88, I will enjoy a glass of wine (a large one - two units) - just out of spite!