"We should turn a blind eye to underage drinking in pubs"

(56 Posts)
Bogeyface Mon 30-Sep-13 22:33:10

As said last night by an old mate of ours who has been running pubs since Noah was a boy.

He backed this up by saying that people my age (40 eek!) snuck into pubs with either our fake ID or too much make up and a veneer of confidence, and learned how to drink. We learned how to behave in pubs when we were too poor to get plastered, we learned what alcohol did to us, and by the time we were 18 it was nothing new. He said he preferred to have a few 15/16 year olds having a pint that lasted all night than what he has now which is brand new legal drinkers absolutely hammering it and getting totally off their faces every weekend. He blames the clamp down on underage drinking for a lot of the binge drinking that goes on now, because kids at 18 have more money and freedom than those a couple of years younger, often they are away at Uni, so have nothing stopping them from getting battered.

My first reaction was "Dont talk crap!" but then I thought about it, and I think that he may have a point. I know a lot of parents who dont allow their children to drink at home until 18, which mystifies the whole thing and again, doesnt allow them to learn in a safe environment.

AIBU to think that he may be right in that our underage sneaking into pubs stopped us from ending up in the paper with our knickers around our ankles in a puddle of our own piss?

Bogeyface Mon 30-Sep-13 22:35:28

And yes, I do understand that drinking is not an essential for life but learning how to handle it is imo because I am not so naive as to think that if I ban it and slag it off, my kids wont want to try it.

Rahahaharubbish Mon 30-Sep-13 23:03:25

I agree to be honest - back in the day I'd go into town with my fiver, buy myself a few soda and blacks and accept the offers of vodka and black from any obliging boys, then get a pineapple fritter on the way home. If you messed up and were obnoxious or annoying you simply weren't served in that pub the following week, or ever again! One of my best nights out was my 18th birthday when the landlord bought me my first legal drink blush

I allow my elder two to drink at weekends - in fact I even buy my underage daughter alcohol for parties because I trust her to follow the same rules I did back then and because I'm not naive enough to think if I didn't buy it she'd not find someone else to buy it for her!

Rahahaharubbish Mon 30-Sep-13 23:05:28

Oh that sounds like they get plastered once a week - they don't drink every weekend!! grin

BOF Mon 30-Sep-13 23:09:44

I really do agree, actually. When you had to be discreet and keep your head down to avoid attracting attention, it meant that you got schooled in the etiquette of safe pub drinking.

I don't think it should be a free for all- the tension of wondering whether you'd get in was part of the rite of passage- but for older teenagers, I think it's safer to drink in pubs where they won't be served if they are obviously pissed, and where they have to behave themselves or risk being chucked out.

jacks365 Mon 30-Sep-13 23:10:17

Mine are allowed to drink at weekends too, they don't bother though worse luck. Not worth opening a bottle of wine for just me so I end up not drinking either. I got something right though because my eldest survived her first year at uni without alcohol poisoning.

BOF Mon 30-Sep-13 23:10:47

Just to add- I think the real strict age regulations would be better off applied to off-licences, for obvious reasons.

thebody Mon 30-Sep-13 23:13:21

yes I agree as well. in the lovely 80s we were never asked out age and subsequently sat in a pub, not the park, and had to behave ourselves.

jack lucky you, wish to goodness my older dcs didn't drink my wine ha ha .

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 23:16:16

I mostly agree with your friend. I was drinking in pubs from about age 15, with older friends, and I never got drunk as I could not afford to at pub prices. The really dangerous drinking went on at private parties, where - just as now - people always managed to get hold of cider, vodka etc. Old-fashioned pub-style drinking on a limited budget is much more civilised - but of course there is now also the kind of bar offering two-for-one shots and jager-bomb happy hours etc at very low prices, so that wouldn't be much better than swigging too much cider in someone's kitchen. Maybe some kind of limited relaxation might work, like allowing 16/17-year-olds to drink beer/cider etc under 5%, but no shots.

thebody Mon 30-Sep-13 23:16:39

yes agree with that Bof.

Lj8893 Mon 30-Sep-13 23:21:07

Hmmm I can see what you mean.

I'm 25, and was in the pubs most weekends from 16, I behaved at 16 for fear of being caught out and yes, by 18 I was used to drinking and the pub culture.

On my 18th birthday, I went to the pub after my party and one of the doormen who knew my face by then said "happy birthday, 18th yeah?" I stuttered "no no no" and he laughed and said "we were all well aware you were underage but you were friendly and well behaved so we let you off"

Pachacuti Mon 30-Sep-13 23:26:31

I do think that older teenagers who are prepared to put the effort into looking 18, ordering adult drinks (a publican friend of the family once said that if he had any doubt about someone he waited to see what they ordered; if it was Archers and lemonade he'd want to see their ID while if it was a pint of bitter he'd assume they were of age) and behaving in a relatively adult manner in small discreet groups then they aren't really causing a problem.

DownstairsMixUp Mon 30-Sep-13 23:29:16

No not really. I was allowed an odd shandy bass or champagne at special occasions (weddings, parties, new year, xmas etc) and that was fine. I sneaked off at around 16 and got violently drunk and grounded and regretted it. I was kinda glad i was restricted and after my horrendous hang over at 15 i learned it was for a reason pretty quickly and have learned to drink in moderation ever since!

meditrina Mon 30-Sep-13 23:29:46

Is it age?

Or is it that pubs were different? When the 40+s were teens, they weren't vertical drinking establishments, the aim wasn't to get hammered quickly, and spirits were a rare (expensive) treat - stomach/bladder capacity would limit the amount of beer/cider you could get through. And Last Orders was earlier, and they shut in the afternoons.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 30-Sep-13 23:31:01

I don't think that having been served in pubs since I could see over the bar stopped me from getting totally fucked up at every opportunity.
I think whether I drank underage or not,getting plastered was something I was going to do till I got it out of my system.
At 15 I was drinking whatever I could get served or get someone to buy me in the offie.
By 16 I had progressed to a nice lunchtime Special Brew in my dinner break at college. shock

I don't drink much now,but I certainly have my 'getting legless at every opportunity' badge from my youth,and I don't think drinking underage either curbed or encouraged that.

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 23:34:14

Yes, for 16-18y
It's far better to have a couple of drinks in the warm than a bottle in the park talking to the local drug dealer.

And that is what happens even in our very rural back water.

gerhardrichter Mon 30-Sep-13 23:40:10

Yes I think that the strictly enforced drinking rules are a bad thing.
Back in the day I used to go to the pub from 16 on, was never asked for ID (as no one cared in the 70's) And as other posters have mentioned the pubs were social and not drinking dens to get hammered in. Theres nothing like a mixed age group of drinkers to keep things in order.
I wish my teenagers were able to get a drink in a pub with their friends. in an atmosphere which is safe and civilised.
If my teenage kids want a drink they will have to go and sit in a bush in the park, and that's not ideal. and could be dangerous and leave them prey to drug dealers or attack.

also agree with small squeak the pubs had limited opening hours so we were usually home by 11.

EagleNebula Mon 30-Sep-13 23:40:20

I agree, I often think this. I started going out at 15 with only a tenner in my pocket. Bought me 4 pints of cider and black and a bag of chips! There were no real alcopops then (mid 90's) so you had to 'learn' to like the taste of alcohol. Any one of my peer group, girls or boys, acting out of turn soon got put in their place by the older punters or the bouncers.

I find it very weird now walking/driving past a group of 17 year olds hanging out in the streets, I just think 'you should be in the pub!'.

I agree, I've always allowed my teens to drink, but to my knowledge I've never met anyone who hasn't been allowed to drink before 18/doesn't allow their children to drink before 18.

Also totally agree I would rather them be in a pub or even a drink fuelled bar than sitting in the park bored and drunk. At least in pubs and bars people are more aware of each other and learn to drink. Really it's only the minority who are paralytic so I think these would be a better situation to start drinking in.

However it's parties and it's the drinking before and after being out because you couldn't afford bar prices where the extreme dodgy drinking happens. Also people did used to have drink problems, get absolutely, trollied and end up with their knickers down, it was just much more frowned upon by everyone else so I don't think we can be naive and think it would cure the problems we currently have, it could ease or change them though,

thewhitequeen Mon 30-Sep-13 23:43:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pachacuti Mon 30-Sep-13 23:46:42

Ah, when I was in the sixth form there was the teachers' pub quarter of a mile down the road in one direction and the sixth formers' pub quarter of a mile down the road in the other direction grin. Happy days...

timidviper Mon 30-Sep-13 23:47:28

I agree too. I would have sooner my DCs were having long drawn out drink in a pub with other people around keeping an eye on them than drinking in a park with heaven knows who around to lead them astray.

I think this combined with the media pushing the image of drinking as being cool and the difference in prices between shops and clubs leading to pre-loading is leading us to a perfect storm in young people's drinking

thewhitequeen Mon 30-Sep-13 23:50:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I would never have met my DH if I hadn't been drinking under age.

We all went out, two nights a week, girls drinking spirits and mixers, boys on the beer. The only bad behaviour happened if someone had been at the homebrew before going out.

However, pubs were full of mixed groups of people, all ages, bouncers weren't needed (except on special occasions like New Years Eve). There was very little violence or drinking to the point of being unable to walk.

There seems to be something desperate about young people's drinking now - an edge of violence, bravado and carelessness about their own and other people's safety - which was by and large missing in the 80s.

However most small town teens in the 80s were dressing like their parents (shoulder pads, suits, Lady Di hair for the girls and boys), maybe that had a calming effect grin.

SignoraStronza Tue 01-Oct-13 00:12:19

I'd agree with that. I used to go to the pub with my older friends on a Friday night. I actually really liked the landlord and landlady and wouldn't have wanted to get them into trouble, so I mainly drank soft drinks from 15-16ish and gradually drank more as I became emboldened to order drinks myself. There was a playing field nearby for drinking white lightening and snogging the older guys though.

On my eighteenth I was rather tipsy, told the landlady it was my birthday and she asked how old. Fessed up and got a wry smile and a 'thought so'.

I waitressed and illegally poured pints in a (different) rural pub from 14 though, so alcohol was no mystery.

I loved the days (17) where it was possible to get to London and back on a child ticket, get off the train and go have a quiet pint. Looked really young but could still be any age I wanted.

Bogeyface Tue 01-Oct-13 00:35:56

The first time I got ID'd was when we went out to celebrate my 18th! We had been going to a particular bar for about 3 years and never had a problem, then it became popular as a pre-town pub and so got bouncers in. Because I hadnt got any ID I didnt get in the first time I was actually legal!

I think there is a difference between pubs and places where the idea is to get as pissed as possible as quickly as possible. We used to drink in a villagey type place and that was fine, but would never have got in to any of the clubs in town. I think that clubs should be over 21 (like in the US) but pubs over 18 with the blind eye being turned as long as they behave.

Re the sixth form drinking, there was only one pub in staggering distance of school so it was generally accepted that the teachers would acknowledge us, and us them, but after that we stayed in different areas and "what happens in the pub stays in the pub" grin

Bogeyface Tue 01-Oct-13 00:36:31

I have to admit, I thought I would get flamed for this!

fortyplus Tue 01-Oct-13 00:40:44

You realise that this is going to be in the Daily Mail tomorrow! grin

Bogeyface Tue 01-Oct-13 00:45:36

Fingers crossed! I would be thrilled to think that I had incited some pearl clutching in la la land!

lessonsintightropes Tue 01-Oct-13 00:48:43

Completely agree. I grew up in a village outside of a northern mill town with parents who didn't drink at all due to religious preferences. I learned between 15 and 18 how to handle a drink and behave around adults; started working ever-so-illegally behind the bar for cash in hand at 17 and worked in the licensed trade all the way through university. I really worry and pity my DCs (when they come along, still TTC right now) for not being able to have the socialisation around alcohol that me and my friends had. My DSis has socialised hers through a glass of wine/beer with sunday lunch since they were pretty small, but I think social pressure is better, in terms of not getting wasted!

RealAleandOpenFires Tue 01-Oct-13 05:06:02

Thinking about these posts & my own experiences.

I come to the conclusion that:-

Social drinking for teens could/should(?) be brought back. But only under certain conditions...

1) They don't turn up pissed (breathalised before entering est.) or stoned/drugs.
2) Grand/Parents/Guardians have to pay a deposit (50£ to ensure good behaviour?).
3) Comform to a reasonable dress code.
4) A maximum of 1-2 pints depending on strength with a meal/def. no spirits (very important that meal btw).
5) Proper non-forgeable photo ID cards/a finger print machine.
6) They can drink only Fri/Sat nights from 8-10pm.
7) Info would be shared with other participaring est.

I think that covers it.?

CrohnicallyLurking Tue 01-Oct-13 07:05:47

Makes sense. Like many others I was drinking in pubs (and clubs!) from around 15 and never got into any trouble. The few times I got plastered was after drinking at someone else's house.

Mind you, I had been drinking the odd beer at family barbecues, or glass of wine with dinner since around 13.

When I went to uni, it was a revelation how many 18 year olds had clearly never been let off the lead before, and their main objection was to get as drunk as possible as often as possible.

Thewhitequeen- we had the same at our school leaver's do. The majority of us were 16 so the teachers arranged for glasses of wine to be served with our meal. But some kids managed to sneak into the bar next door and get served pints, the teachers just rolled their eyes, and when they 'checked' us for alcohol didn't seem to notice that some of the boys had their hands behind their backs!

MrsLouisTheroux Tue 01-Oct-13 07:06:13

This thread has made me think. I started going in pubs when I was 15 and drank a couple of pints throughout the night. More as I got older - spirits etc. We were limited to what we could afford and were sort of supervised by arsey landlord types who never put up with any c**p.
We never drank at home before going out, our parents would never have bought us anything from the off licence and we were too young to buy it ourselves.
So yes OP, I get his point but teenagers seems to have money nowadays and some parents seem happy to allow them to get plastered at home or before they even go out.
I blame Alcopops (seriously) !

StitchingMoss Tue 01-Oct-13 07:09:48

Totally agree - dread the thought my boys will be drinking in parks when they're older rather than in a pub where they would be forced to behave and would be watched by adults.

livinginwonderland Tue 01-Oct-13 07:12:54

I went to the pub regularly from 15-16 (and this would have been 2004/5). Our pub didn't ID and although I'm pretty sure they knew we were underage, we never caused problems and they never asked for proof of age or threw us out.

But, I still got ridiculously drunk when I got my A-level results (when I was 18 and legal to drink) and a few times at university before I learnt my lesson. I don't drink much now - maybe on a Friday night or if DP and I go out for dinner, but drinking at 15/16 in the pub didn't stop me getting stupidly drunk when I was legal.

HeySoulSister Tue 01-Oct-13 07:41:03

Landlady of our village local used to let us use the pool room sometimes. Happy days. Pool table, boys and the jukebox. In a grown up environment with that lovely beer smell.

I agree bogeyface

vvviola Tue 01-Oct-13 08:01:09

I always thought the German system had it's merits. At the nightclubs I went to the system was:
ID at door, irrespective of age.
16 - 18 yo gets one colour wristband (pink say) and ID is kept
18+ gets different wristband.

16 - 18 only served soft drinks or beer (possibly wine too, not 100% sure)

At midnight, under 18s have to leave. 10 minute warning given. ID cards collected on way out.

I was told if you didn't leave when supposed to, you were summoned over the intercom, and if you still didn't come they called your parents/the police but I'm not sure whether that happened in reality or if it was just my German friends pulling my leg grin

ShabbyButNotChic Tue 01-Oct-13 08:10:35

Yanbu. I was out drinking from 15. I was always tall and had massive knockers so never got asked for id. We never caused bother as we didnt want to draw attention to ourselves, so landlords didnt mind.

At the local pub i go to there is a main room then a smaller side room. It is well known that the side room is the underage bit. Referred to as 'the playroom' smile landlord knows they are all 16/17 but as long as they are quiet and dont start fights etc he lets them in. Us old ones put them in their place if we need to. There are a lot of 40/50 year old blokes that drink there who wouldnt think twice about throwing them out if they played up.

Id rather them be in the pub having a few pints and playing pool than drinking cider on a park bench tbh

SeaSickSal Tue 01-Oct-13 09:47:21

I also agree. And I think 15/16 year olds having their first drink somewhere were they know they have to behave or be kicked out is also a good thing. I did it when I was younger.

I think having a sneaky few in pub is far preferable to getting someone to buy you a bottle of cider and getting smashed in a park.

PresidentServalan Tue 01-Oct-13 13:05:11

Totally agree - when we drank in pubs we had to behave - now towns are full of kids getting hammered and shouting at people.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Tue 01-Oct-13 13:45:26

I disagree completely.

Partly because I didn't have that experience. We went into pubs/clubs from about 15 and got plastered. We'd get the cheapest drinks (and a pint is on average quite a bit stronger than it was 20/30 years ago), and we'd pester people to buy them for us, and so on.

I don't think we learned how to handle alcohol any better than the people who never drank until they were 18 (or 21, as I know plenty of Americans).

I have a problem with it in that I think it normalizes a booze culture, especially for university, so you don't actually learn to do normal stuff like socializing sober as well as you might have done. I know I sound like a massive killjoy and I doubt anyone is ever going to completely stop 15 year olds boozing illicitly, but I don't really believe that underage drinking is particularly brilliant to encourage either.

NoComet Tue 01-Oct-13 16:08:03

Because my 13-18 drinking was all done in cheap Welsh pubs and village dance bars I didn't think university booze was cheap at all. I stayed in my flat and had mates round for tea and toast.

It was the, supposedly, streetwise students from London who got totally rat arsed and threw up everywhere. I lived with a couple. They behaved like they were 16 at best.

TheCrackFox Tue 01-Oct-13 16:30:12

I completely agree.

I would rather my boys had a couple of drinks in the pub were the Dover bar staff can keep an eye on them than down the park posses or as high as a kite.

We used too have a sensible approach to this but in the past 10yrs we seem to going the American way (completely neurotic) regarding drinking.

TheCrackFox Tue 01-Oct-13 16:31:13

Dover = sober. I really should proof read before posting.

YouTheCat Tue 01-Oct-13 16:37:23

I agree, Bogey.

Dd is 18 and I've been letting her have a drink for a while plus wine if we go out for a meal from age 16.

She is well pissed off though. I got her a citizen card as ID as it is part of the PASS scheme and it turns out loads of places won't accept it even though it comes from the bloody stupid Home Office and has her picture on it. Waste of money.

Our 6th form discos were at the local rugby club and alcohol was served. There were teachers there and no one was allowed to get pissed.

BillyBanter Tue 01-Oct-13 16:43:19

The UK's unhealthy relationship with alcohol is not caused by underage kids getting into pubs and won't be solved by stopping underage kids getting into pubs.

Twattybollocks Tue 01-Oct-13 19:01:35

Billybanter, you are absolutely right, as long as it is seen as seen as cool and normal to get puking drunk in town several nights a week, this unhealthy relationship will continue. Drinking should be used to relax and help you enjoy the evening, these days, it seems to be that drinking is the whole point of the evening. I think that's where the problem lies. We no longer go out with our friends and have a drink, we go out drinking with friends.

GirlWithTheDirtyShirt Tue 01-Oct-13 19:11:25

YANBU. I too was going out from age 15. We drank on the street corners before that for a while and we were much safer in the pubs. The landlord of one place actually made an announcement saying as such one week after the Police paid him a visit.

We'd have a few drinks, have a dance and get the bus home at 11:10. By 16-18 when we did A Levels at college we progressed to proper clubs, but it was very rare for any of us to get so battered we were ill.

Some of my uni mates didn't have the same experience and drank only to get drunk, I still find this most odd 15 years later.

harticus Tue 01-Oct-13 19:24:36

I don't get what is happening these days. Where is the pleasure in getting tanked up on cheap vodka before you even go out?
Twatty is absolutely right - the drinking was always secondary to just being sociable with mates when I was young.

thewhitequeen Tue 01-Oct-13 20:22:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Tue 01-Oct-13 20:33:35

at 16 i was earning £140 per week. I used to go out and get hammered.

Perhaps 18-16 should have a 2 drink rule in pubs and if the bouncers think you have been drinking no entry.

ILikeBirds Tue 01-Oct-13 20:56:21

When i was 16 the local police stated that they preferred underage teenagers in the pubs drinking where reasonable behaviour was expected than out on the streets drinking with nobody keeping an eye on them. The latter lead to far more trouble than the former. This was about 18 years ago.

I wouldn't say there was any pretence though. We had sixth form socials from age 16 held in a pub with teachers in attendance and everyone drinking well aware that just about everyone was underage. The pub nearest our school would serve teenagers in school uniform!

ILikeBirds Tue 01-Oct-13 20:59:38

Incidentally I was in a bar the other day and I saw a sign saying Hoopers Hooch was back!!

Lisavarna Tue 01-Oct-13 21:15:58

I really am not sure on this one.

There is a pile of medically accepted research now which wasnt around when i was a teenager (the 80's) which states clearly that the effect of exessive alcohol on the brain of teenagers is quite damaging, in that it can interrupt and hinder that proper development, leading to permanent damage which manifests itself as a kind of emotional immaturity and arrested development.

There seems to be physical and psychological damage there as a result of alcohol specifially to the teenagers developing brain. This would worry me. I like the idea of being all liberal and french about allowing my soon to be teenagers to drink, but then this research makes me stop and think twice about that.

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 01-Oct-13 21:16:28

Something which has changed since my younger days is the extent to which people drink spirits. I would like to see spirits become a lot less prevalent.

In reply to RealAleandOpenFires what I would prefer to see is:

- no alcohol stronger than say 15% by volume to be sold - ie no shots, any spirits to be well diluted
- any alcohol stronger than say 6% to be sold in wine glass size measures with the largest glass size being 150ml
- any licencee caught serving the seriously drunk risks losing their licence very quickly

Establishments following the above would be allowed to serve alcohol to anyone over the age of 16.

Establishments wishing to serve stronger drinks would be required to obtain a different licence and would have to have a door policy which excluded drinkers under the age of 21. These establishments would also have a presumed responsibility for anyone who had been drinking on the premises and who had to be dealt with by Police/hospital afterwards. This would be a 'last drink' policy. Wherever a drunk had obtained their final drink would have some responsibility for the mayhem their clientele caused.

I agree. If teens want to drink they will, so it's not a choice of them drinking in a pub or not drinking at all - really the choice is the park or the pub.

I like the sound of the German system someone outlined upthread although I'm not sure clubs are the right places.

Maybe pubs could apply for a special licence to serve 16-17 y/o's weaker alcoholic drinks - those that did happy hours or 2-for-1 shots would not be the sort of places that would be granted licences. They would also be expected to strictly abide by the not serving drunk people (of any age) rule.

I can't see many teens being able to afford pub prices though.

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