The world’s fastest-acting icebreaker is a tall, cool one. It inspires introverts to exhibitionism and moves the tongue-tied to acts of extreme volubility. It draws people closer, and it lived up to its reputation on Super Saturday, when pubs re-opened in the UK, and were allowed to serve patrons on the premises. The British local is an institution, and its reopening sent a powerful signal that communities were returning to normal life.
On what he called “the morning after the night before”, John Apter, chair of the UK Police Federation, declared that drunk people cannot or will not socially distance themselves. Policemen on duty that night reported much mischief-making by drunks of every description, including fighting drunks. People in Devon and Cornwall, where drunk driving is believed to have been invented, were especially loaded with vim and bounce, generating 1,000 reports of alcohol-fuelled disorder. Football is still a TV event, or the disturbances could have been amplified.
However, the intrepid English do not propose to close down pubs again. How much more progressive this is than in India, where governments, irrespective of political colour, shut down liquor outlets as a first response at the slightest provocation. Whether it’s a religious festival, an election or an infectious disease, the prompt executive response is to turn off the tap. It is generally argued that the state has to play nanny because Indian drinkers are irresponsible, and have appetites bigger than their livers. But the mayhem in the UK shows that we do not have a monopoly on rash indulgence.