Monday, 10 January 2011
First they came for the drinkers
It was a generous gesture offering exceptional value to those who’d been hard hit by the economic downturn. So what could there possibly be to complain about? For once a major British business wasn’t ripping off its customers and was trying to offer a chink of cheer in these austere times.
Unfortunately, despite millions of Britons taking advantage of this fortnightly offer, alcohol campaigners complained that Marks and Spencer was tempting people with the demon drink. “What,” they asked, “would happen if people bought the promotion and ate it every night of the week?”
Well, ignoring the fact that M&S only run the promotion every other weekend, what’s so wrong with two people sharing a bottle of wine? Will the earth stop spinning on its axis?
The British Liver Trust claimed such deals should carry health warnings, as they encouraged heavy drinking among middle-aged professionals - yet were promoted in sections of stores away from the alcohol department.
The charity made its claim as official statistics showed 22 per cent of the middle classes drink at least five days a week - compared to just 11 per cent of manual workers.
British Liver Trust spokeswoman Sarah Matthews said: 'These meal deals are prominently advertised and make regular drinking at that level seem like a perfectly acceptable everyday habit. They are totally wrong.'
'If a couple share a bottle of wine every night, the woman would be more than double her limit by the end of the week and the man would also be way over.'
Marks and Spencer decided to give the promotion a try by excluding the bottle of wine. The result... a total flop. Guess what? People actually enjoy a glass of wine or two with their food, in common with most people in Europe. For years we’ve been lectured and hectored by the nut cutlet brigade, imploring us to be more like continental Europeans and to drink with our food rather than swilling ale in pubs. But now that pubs are closing at record rates because we’ve choosen to stay home and drink wine with our food, they’re trying put a stop to that too.
The term puritan springs to mind. And the definition of a puritan is: Someone who is haunted by the thought that someone, somewhere might be having a good time and enjoying themselves.