Brewer's Droop #217
How about a gin & tonic with that Omelette sir?
In September 2010 Newstime published a column I’d written about lunacy in the Cape Town Council offices. Here are some extracts – then there’s an hysterical update at the end.
…Bannings beget more bannings. As I’ve said previously, the ban on tobacco advertising will eventually lead to the criminalising of smoking altogether. Similarly, the forthcoming ban on alcohol advertising will take us back to the American 1920’s prohibition. And I’m not kidding about this either – the drama’s unfolding as I write this.
Recently another hopelessly misguided sanctimonious group of idiots who think they are on some kind of moral crusade have managed to remove yet another little joy from our lives. It’s a mad scramble to make sure that you and I are protected from “social ills” and is becoming an almost weekly occurrence these days.
Councillor Taki Amira, the head of Cape Town’s liquor policy (and mentally-challenged) task team, is defending the City Council’s tighter liquor laws because, I suspect, he wants to get his name in the papers more often.
The new laws are laughable – and were sneaked in whilst everyone else was watching the World Cup…..
Essentially what they’ve done is to amend the laws so that, from New Year’s Day next January,(2011) some Cape restaurants will not be able to sell alcohol after 9pm and others after 11pm (depending on zoning)… There will be a total ban on selling alcohol before 11am too.
Now I don’t know of anyone who goes out boozing before 11am… but I know a lot of people who, in the Cape Summer, often enjoy a glass of champagne with breakfast at upmarket venues on a Sunday morning in a leafy vineyard.
Champagne breakfasts have long been favourites with businessmen too when they want to launch, say, a new product with a touch of elegance.
But our saviour, Amira, doesn’t understand the word “elegance” and says our drinking habits are “not socially acceptable”. Apparently these new restrictions are going to (wait for it) “curb foetal alcohol syndrome, drunk driving and wife beating.”
Amira also said, when being accused of spoiling people’s champagne breakfasts, “I’m at a loss for words because if that’s what’s important to everyone, it shocks me.”
Well Taki, let me explain something to you. Cape Town is a serious tourist destination (you may not have noticed all the crowds watching the soccer recently because you were too busy changing the laws when nobody was concentrating). And Taki, guess what a lot of foreign (and local) tourists do when they’re on holiday? Sometimes they go to elegant venues in the winelands and enjoy leisurely breakfasts – and sometimes (you’d better sit down for this piece of information you pompous ass) they add a dash of champagne in their orange juice.
But, naturally, Taki Amira isn’t listening (councillors seldom do) and drones on in reply “…they have a glass of champagne and orange juice, then they have a second one…then they order a beer then…something harder and then they ride off (on their motorbikes presumably) and someone gets killed…”
Oh yes, I see that often – gangs of Hell’s Angels driving around swinging bottles of Dom Perignon about and scoffing Eggs Benedict as they go gaily crashing into the vineyards, leaving a wake of dead bodies behind them.
Industry leaders have called these measures “patronising” and “childish” and have also, quite rightly, pointed out that there is already legislation in place to control illegal bars and shebeens – laws that simply need enforcing. There’s no point in creating even MORE laws …
Anyway, that was back in September 2010.
Since then, I’m sure, there have been many, many meetings in Council’s Chambers discussing whether or not to ban the champagne breakfast. Hundreds of hours of councillors’ time, achieving little other than one back-track after another. Well done chaps.
So here’s a quick catch-up on what’s happened over the past three years.
The by-law changes were delayed because they capitulated on the champagne, finally admitting that some non-drunks actually enjoyed it.
Then someone realised that not all champagne breakfasts included bona fide champagne so it was delayed again while they changed the word to “sparkling wine”.
Then some smart-ass felt that just allowing sparkling wine was elitist, racist and unconstitutional. “What about traditional drinks?” went the cry around the Council table. Another U-turn.
After considerable harrumphing, it was agreed to change the word “sparkling wine” to “liquor”. What this means is that it’s quite okay now to have a “brandy & coke breakfast”.
It’s absurd I know.
And the council’s vacillating hasn’t ended yet – there’s still a chance that those tourist shops at the Waterfront (for example) who used to sell wine on Sunday may do so again. With the neurotics we’ve got running the liquor by-laws anything is possible – and if they do give the green light to wine sales on Sundays it will all have been a complete waste of time of course.
Currently the plan is to put the “new” law into place by next February. However, the chances of yet another amendment are anybody’s guess. Any thoughts?