Let me start by declaring that I hate shopping, of any kind. I rarely need anything myself but when I do, I take a deep breath, put on a brave face and go to a shop.
One of my little joys in life is good coffee and there's a place in the city centre which does a blend that should carry a health warning. It's glorious and I'd love to buy half a ton of it and never need to go back there. But I'm limited to 800g per trip because it loses its freshness. This place is a double-whammy because not only is it a shop but it's where all the heavy traffic is, human and mechanical. So every two and a half months I visit the place on a Sunday morning early and am often there waiting for them to open up. No people, no traffic but plenty of coffee and I'm back home in a jiffy!
There's always an exception to any rule so in my case, I do like to shop for either beer or wine. But then my circumstances changed about the same time the price of this stuff went up and up. Having less money and expensive tastes by then, I had a problem. So I went off the drink for a few months. It wasn't so difficult when I got over the habitual but I'd be a liar if I said I didn't miss it at all.I do like the taste of beer and wine however I do not care for spirits. It's much the same with meats and vegetables where I enjoy the former and not the latter.
But Germany came to the rescue on the beer and wine front because Lidl and Aldi sprung up everywhere. Wine that cost €15.00 in the offie was available in these outlets for €5.00. But I remember my first visit to one of these places. I refer to them all collectively as, "Addled," because that is how I felt walking in their door. There was so much stuff all over the gaff that I couldn't actually make anything out. Five minutes in and I began to think that they didn't sell any beer or wine and their ads were bullshit. Then I hit a rich vein on both sides of an aisle, floor to ceiling with bottles and tins. I think I engaged then in what is called browsing.
As a creature of pure habit, I always return to the same place to get the same thing I want but found there first. I wouldn't chance visiting a different Addled in case the hooch wasn't in the usual place. So things have drifted along quite pleasantly for a few years with a compromise of product quality in return for affordable prices. But happiness is not what your Government wants to see from you. They are looking for fear, despair and personal uncertainty. They call that stability because it is the only way they can control the unruly mob in their opinion. Some busybody proposed minimum pricing and sensing more money for their retirement fund, they all said, "Here, here!"
So the demon drink is back under attack and as is the way of these things, Public Health were rolled out to say there's no single fix for it. They propose a 'series of measures' or a set of interferences as I call them. You may not believe this but they are pushing for a large curtain to cover the booze so that we thinking adults can't actually see it. Oh sure! We'll probably just forget about buying any, won't we? We'll come home empty-handed saying, "They stopped selling the stuff, couldn't find it anywhere." Acording to our betters, out of sight is out of mind. Like hell it is!
Well actually, no. You see for guys like me, these big unsightly curtains will be a great help. At a glance from the door of any of these outlets, a big ungainly curtain will point me directly to the good stuff. Then it is only a matter of heading straight through the assorted unseen clutter to my pot of gold. I'm thinking of my local Addled now and there's about fifty feet of wine on one side and same of beer on the other. It would have to be a hell of a curtain to cover that lot. One can only presume they'll need a series of curtains, one for the French wines, another for Spanish and so on. Or perhaps each curtain would represent a price range, that would be handy for me.
But then, how do these curtains achieve their desired objective. Shoppers will naturally pull them back but do any of you believe they'll close them again when they are finished? Me neither! So they'll be opened once in the morning by a customer and closed again last thing by a staff member, is that it? Or will there be a fine for leaving the curtain open and if so, who'll police that? During shopping hours then, the produce will be on display as usual but with big curtains pointing the way to the drinks section for blokes like me. Public Health calls that doing something positive. Personally I believe that the bill for the purchase and erection of these curtains should be sent to Public Health for payment by them. It's their idea after all and they've spent a fortune lobbying the feeble-minded to legislate for it. If they want it that badly then they should pay for it to. That'd soften their cough.
Sadly though, the small shopkeepers will lose out big time. Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, the junior health minister, (And all round dopey maggot), is considering an exemption from the curtain law for smaller shop owners. By definition, the small shop will never have the range of choice for starters and then they have to overcharge for what they do have to make any profit at all because they don't have volume either. Them's the breaks but now the brain-dead Marcella wants to put them at a further disadvantage by denying them the product-finding curtains.
The expensive off-licenses are unaffected by any of this, oddly enough. My local Dunnes Stores is a gigantic operation and it is so mind-boggling that I know they have everything and yet I see nothing. But they have another smaller unit in that shopping centre and it is their Dunnes Stores off-license. Where do they stand on the great curtain debate? If I were them, I'd stick a bloody great curtain across the whole outside of that unit so everyone would know where to find the drink when they're doing the groceries. It would stand out from all the others and sure isn't that what its all about?
And there's an unintended consequence they haven't thought of. Curtains could become synonymous with alcohol in the public mind fairly quickly. Imagine sitting at home, particularly on these winter evenings. By four or five o'clock you get up to pull the curtains and then you think, I'll have a little snifter of wine now. If you do that then it won't be your fault. You see, Public Health will have planted that idea in your head by use of constant repetition. "You pull the curtains darling and I'll get us the drinks."