Cafe Culture

I’VE always been somewhat cynical, even as a child. I can’t, for example, ever remember believing in Father Christmas. I knew all about a big kindly man carrying a sack - but that was my dad with a bag of horse feed over his shoulder.
So when we were told, back in 2005, that relaxing the licensing laws would turn us all into continental clones, embracing cafe culture by nibbling on garlic-soaked escargots while sipping our pastis, I said: “Fiddle-les-sticks,” or words to that effect.
A glance at any tabloid newspaper will show you the effect drinking copious amounts of lager and tequila slammers has on certain Brits - and it sure doesn't encourage them to drag on a Gauloise while sitting under bistro-style stripy umbrellas on the pavement.
It’s more throwing up in the ashtray, then using the umbrellas to inflict some awful injury on the nether regions of someone who is, like them, wearing Union Jack underpants but is wearing a football shirt of a rival team.
After all, we already have experience of that European-style cafe culture on our frequent trips to Costa Del Vomita. And do we sip decorously on our Sangria on a Spanish promenade? Do we buggery. We start drinking ourselves into a stupor on the plane and don’t stop until we’ve marinated our livers in alcohol for two weeks. Then we stumble back to the plane, neck a few more drinks while up in the air before touching down on the grey tarmac under the grey skies of dear old Britain.
The government hoped the new laws would prevent hordes of drunken youths pouring onto the streets at 11pm every evening when the pubs kicked out. So news that lager-fuelled louts are now reeling about our streets all night long, getting into fights, trashing everything they stagger into contact with and throwing up in any handy receptacle, comes as no surprise.
Tsk, tsk. The youth of today. Why can't they be more like me? I have embraced the café culture with gusto. Now instead of sitting around the table with a nice cup of tea, my friends and I pour ourselves a large red wine, argue about anything and everything, eat too much and then stagger off home for a nice siesta.


  1. These lager louts remind me of the elephant population in Southern Africa. To cull or not to cull is the question. A sniper on top of every multi-story car park should keep the herd in check.

  2. and that is precisely what i love about cafe culture!

    we can only have cafe culture between june and august. before that, or after, you would freeze to your chair.

  3. The airwaves have been full of discussion about this very topic over the last few days.
    I reckon it's going to take more than just a few years to effect a culture change.

    I'd bring back the public stocks.

    Thinking back to my own misspent youth ... I wondered why we never did anything too dreadful and came to the conclusion that not only could we not afford to get puking drunk, we were far too terrified of our parents' reaction to risk it.

  4. Made one of my occasional visits to your blog, and Hurrah! you're back!

    Drinking - been there, done that, turned tee-total.

    I remember DS lessons at school, too - cakes like bits of geology, and a "summer soup" that went straight down the loo! Really learned to cook when I had to produce meals for husband and self.

  5. I laughed when I heard this story on the news this morning. "News" indeed. How was this ever news to anyone? Surely even the most downtrodden sociologist could have told the politicians that Brits will drink in Britain as they already do abroad. It's hardly rocket science, or politics...come to that.

  6. I'm all for the age of consent being raised back to 21 for drinking, smoking, voting and of course it would have to include fighting for your country. Speaking of fighting for your country I wouldn't be against reintroducing national service for anyone over the age of 18 who was living on the dole!

  7. The cafés here in the Netherlands stay open until 3 am, I think, but we do have those awful drunk young people in some of the bigger cities also.

    In Belgium the cafés don't close at all, but I don't know what sort of problems with drunken youth they have.

    It's all in the culture, I suppose, and what we as parents decide is acceptable when our youngsters grow up.

    Here they are thinking about raising the minimum drinking age from 16 to 18, but children as young as 12 or 13 drink regularly on the weekends and the parents often know about it and allow it.

  8. Being a reformed drinker, I say ban it all! If teetotalism is good enough for me, it's good enough for the yob on the street.

    Bring back prohibition! That never did anyone any harm, did it?

    Oh. Well. Apart from all that crime and black marketeering and gangstery stuff.

  9. It's so lovely to have you back! I missed my weekly (ish!) dose of laughter.

  10. I love 'Costa del vomita'! Great post Kitchen table. I hear now they're thinking of raising the price of alcopops (and wine - how dare they) to put off the dipso youth. They said on the news that kids UNDER 8 (for god's sake!!) were being admitted to hospital for drink related ailments. I thoroughly blame the greedy drink companies for deliberately targetting young drinkers with alcopops that taste like soft drinks.

  11. Can I come with you on your next trip to Costa Del Vomita? Ah, those good old vomiting into ashtray days (mind you, they must have been bigger where you were, volume was always an issue for me).

  12. Great, you are blogging again! Welcome back.