Saturday 22 January 2011

Sorrows of the Blind Drunk

William Topaz McGonagall was a temperate man who warned against the evils of strong drink. In this parody, written on 20th June 2008, I reverse the great man's standpoint to comment on the Scottish Government's plans (mainly since abandoned or thwarted) to tackle the problem of excessive alcohol consumption.

Sorrows of the Blind Drunk

’Twas on the seventeenth day of June in the year 2008,
Which will go down in history as a memorable date,
That the Scottish Government, led by the SNP,
Announced their intention new laws on alcohol to decree.

To explain what was the politicians’ will,
First up to speak was Kenny MacAskill.
This fine statesman, who is the Justice Secretary,
Declared that the Scottish people were far too merry.

“Nae mair will ye gang tae the supermarket for cut-price special brew
An’ bottles of Buckie at 3 for 2.
We will end this unseemly generosity and glee
And mak thame gie ye twa for the price o’ three.

And, since liquor gives licence to frivolity and fun,
It should obviously not be had before the age of 21.
I know that at 16 men can fight and can die for the state.
But misery is always with us.  Pleasure can wait.”

So spoke Kenny MacAskill.  Perhaps he was drunk at the time.
He then went on to say that alcohol was responsible for 45% of recorded crime.
He came out with more statistics till it made the journalists dizzy.
But some people said they could smell something fishy.

The next to say her piece was Nicola Sturgeon
Who, as Health Secretary, deals with both GP and surgeon.
She explained that, through affluence, we Scots choose a life of ill health,
Which problem is best solved by eliminating disposable wealth.

“There are people who are dying in each hospital ward
Just because a pint is something they can afford.
If we fix a minimum price for the sale of each alcohol unit,
Then they’ll sip and savour their Tartan Special and not just up and doon it.

And since the retailers who peddle death do it practically for free,
We must make them pay a social responsibility fee.
The responsibility of individuals is marginal, at the edges.
And it’s not as if we want to raise extra funds to pay for our election pledges…”

So spoke Nicola Sturgeon, parliamentary leader.
But what of Alex Salmond, that smug little rune-reader?
Do you think he keeps quiet lest he sound like a berk
And that, in his clever little brain, he knows it won’t work?

In these plans there is surely a flaw
In that they most affect people who don’t break the law.
They’ll require us to queue in the supermarket twice
(Once for booze; once for mixers), which is not very nice.

And the effects will be worse as you travel forth
To the highlands and islands of the heathen north.
If you stop the folk drinking, that would hurt them so much,
For, without being leathered, Orcadians don’t touch.

This is no way to address Scotland’s haemorrhaging population.
Lack of cheap drink leads to anger and frustration.
The Scots as a nation should be happy and hearty.
Why do we have such a miserable Scottish National Party?

© Chris Young

Without wishing to go into extensive debate, suffice it to say that, although this poem doesn't entirely reflect my position politically, I believe that there will always be a problem with mechanistic measures which disproportionately affect the law-abiding.

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