After 41 years of forced binge drinking (how else does one get inebriated by 23:00?), the United Kingdom is finally entering into the modern world. As of midnight tonight, pubs, clubs, restuarants and even supermarkets can now choose (pending a license) to sell booze 24/7 like most of the western world.
Of course, not everyone will get a license, and not all establishments will actually stay open 24/7, but it'll be nice to actually be able to pop out for a leisurely post dinner drink at about 22:30 without the fear of being forced to drink up by 23:20 (the old law did allow 20 mins drinking up time - oh how kind). The Spanish do this all the time.
Naturally, there are the killjoys who have already started jumping up and down claiming alcohol abuse, under-age drinking and alcohol induced violence is going to sky rocket. Well yes, for the first few months whilst the novelty wears off, but soon enough the penny will drop and people will start drinking moderately without fear of having to race the clock. By removing the 23:00 curfew, the government has already just cut down the number of 22:50 "3-pinters" (the chaps that order 3 pints at the bell and neck them before 23:20). By removing this curfew they've also reduced the chances of "kick-out time" incidents as pubs and clubs can stagger their closing times, or even better, implement a "3am or when the last customer leaves" kind of policy as employed in many places in South Africa and Spain.
What I find quite amusing is the police are complaining that they don't have the man power to deal with the late night drinkers - ummmm, what else are they doing at this time of night? If they're being paid to work the night shift - they've now got something to do. However, if the pubs employ the "3am or last customer" policy, there will most likely just be a gentle trickle of people falling out of pubs, which shouldn't be too hard to handle.
I admit, the UK does have a binge drinking culture which I believe is primarily down to the old curfew, "cheapish" booze and the use of large measures, but I think the government is heading in the right direction with this idea in their quest to quash binge drinking.
I'm however no looking forward to their next steps, which I suspect will probably include taxing alcohol even more.