We had a lovely few days break in Munich shortly after the London Olympics. A significant part of the Munich life involves beer. The city has a number of breweries and take great pride in their produce. A taxi driver went out of her way to tell us that brewers come to Munich to learn and that her experience of American lager was unfavourable (I paraphrase). Every restaurant or cafe sells beer and many tourists have a drink – its just part of the culture. One of the most pleasant experiences was in the beer Keller at the English garden, having a picnic while drinking wheat beer along with a couple of hundred other people.
What I noticed was that although everyone was drinking there was no drunkenness, raised voices or obvious swearing. Talking to the locals there is a marked contrast during Oktoberfest when debauchery is the objective and commonplace. But the everyday experience made me notice the contrast with the UK and I imagined what a beer Keller like this one would look like in Ashbourne. One of the knock-on effects of the Olympics is a favourable comparison of both athletes and spectators of Olympic events with those of football. The feeling is that the bad language and aggressive behaviour shown at football matches was completely absent from the Olympic events – people went just to have a good time. Furthermore, if some of the language and behaviour of football fans took place in the street rather than a football match, they would be arrested.
I will confess I enjoy a drink regularly and I do know a few bad words too. We have always had a problem with alcohol in Britain – we don’t seem to know how to use it and it is seen as an end in itself rather than a part of an evening’s entertainment. We have a year-round Oktoberfest in every town and city in this country. There is a law in this country that forbids landlords from serving a drink to anyone who is noticeably drunk but every day it is ignored. In the US lawyers are touting for business under the “dram laws” where a third party can claim from the landlord if they suffer loss or injury as a result of a landlord ignoring this principle. As most things eventually cross the Atlantic we need to be prepared.
When I was growing up it was part of the social contract that no-one swore in a public setting and never in front of women and children. There used to be bars with signs advising patrons that swearing was not permitted. There are bars today where I assume it must be compulsory. I have always tried to follow the guideline and it still shocks me to hear people talking at the top of their voice on public transport using Fs and Cs and, even worse, to hear parents swearing at or to their children. Why do people need to use expletives even in tweets? Occasionally a swear word can add effective emphasis to a joke or an expression but these days they seem to have become punctuation – like people use exclamation marks too profusely!!!
I hope it’s not too late to put the genie back in the bottle but personally I’d like to see our streets a little less alcohol-fuelled and the air a little less blue-tinged. At the very least we need to make sure we never consider at acceptable. I’d like landlords to apply the law and drunkenness to be a thing of embarrassment rather than pride. I’d like public obscenity to be an enforced offence and parental obscenity to be treated as abuse.