I am not a popular man. Despite this, my funeral will be well attended. People will come for miles just to make sure I’m dead. Open coffin. Prodding sticks provided. I’ve got it all planned out. And at the wake, there’ll be case after case of booze.
Booze. You’ll be toasting my demise and telling funny stories. Then, half a bottle in, you’ll find yourself saying: you know, he really wasn’t that bad. Of course, you’ll be drunk. And that’s the point of drinking. It makes bad things seem really not that bad.
The government’s attempt to slap a minimum price on drink is a slap in the face to anyone who’s ever wanted to escape, for just one minute, and think: life really isn’t all that bad.
Of course it won’t matter to folks who already pay a tenner a bottle for their bottle of wine, although simple economics states that prices will go up across the board, not just for bargain booze, as price parity remains. But if you’re paying ten quid you probably don’t care if you’re paying twelve.
If you were paying three quid and now you’re paying five, you just might.
I’m not talking about tramps and alkies. Like all other addicts, they’ll pay whatever, do whatever it takes, to get their fix.
I’m talking minimum wage.
Have you ever worked a dead end job? Let’s say you work a 38 hour week with stacking shelves, packing envelopes, or answering phones. Your take home pay will be £868 a month. You can’t even rent a room in London for less than £600, so let’s assume you’re either sharing half a room in London or half a flat anywhere else. You’re paying £300 a month for your share of your hovel.
Subtract bills and council tax. There goes another hundred. Getting to and from work. Another fifty. A hundred, if you live in London. Food – a fiver a day.
I’ve done it. I’ve been that poor.
You’ve now spent about seven hundred of your £868 a month. I’ve not counted the cost of clothes. The cost of owning a TV, computer, mobile phone. A haircut. Deodorant. Toothpaste.
The point is by the time all these things have come out of your “salary”, your entertainment budget is looking pretty thin.
The difference between a £3 bottle of wine and a £5 bottle of wine is everything. The simple fact is the government’s “minimum price on alcohol” hits the poorest and it hits them hard. It hits them where it hurts: in the wallet. Then it hits them again, in the balls, just for good measure.
Fuck you. That’s what David Cameron is saying to you. Well fuck you back, Dave. David Cameron thinks if you’re poor, you don’t have the right to drink. David Cameron thinks if you’re poor, the drinks cabinet should be up there on the top shelf with the porno mags — out of your reach.
David Cameron is saying if you are poor, we have the right to fuck you.
And for what? In the name of health? My body, my right. When I was on minimum wage a gallon of cheap cider at the end of the week was all I could afford. And I can assure you, at the end of the working week, it was bliss. Now I’m earning more I can afford a ten quid cinema ticket. I can afford to take the girlfriend for a weekend in France. But these are the privileges of the rich.
I am not a popular person. Yet somehow I still get invited to dinner parties. Middle class ones, where people start out talking and somehow after the third or fourth bottle is opened, start forcing their trendy opinions on you in a high pitched trill. Usually I keep my mouth shut. But I like a drink as much as the next person and sometimes I have to say my piece. It was about eleven PM. The party was winding down. The whole table, having covered everything from education to the NHS, was in agreement. “Even if you did vote Conservative,” they said, “you would never admit it.”
I finished my wine. It was a nice Fleurie from the Beaujolais region, about twelve quid a bottle. Strong stuff, and good.
“I voted Conservative,” I said, shattering the party’s cosy illusions with a hammer. Then I told them why. I voted Conservative because I wanted an end to the nanny state. I voted Conservative because I believed in freedom, and the rights of the individual, and people’s right to choose. I voted for an economy with lower taxes, a country where people had the right to spend the money they earned on whatever they chose, free from interference from a busybody state.
Suffice it to say I will not be voting Conservative again.
Fuck you, David Cameron. Fuck you for being more of the same.
by Alastaire Allday