Public drinking – why not?

This is the Beatroot’s second visit to Polandian. This time he’s brought along his very own extra-large coffee mug to “save us the washing up.” We’ll be counting the spoons after he’s gone.

Ah, the perfect Polish picnic. Sitting with the girlfriend and dog by the pond in our local park on a warm, early summer’s day. In the picnic basket: cold cuts of meat, salad, sandwiches, a hard boiled egg…or two! And then the girlfriend gets out the tulip shaped glasses and I pop the cork of the gently chilled Spanish kava.

Pop!

Actually, that pop just brought me back to consciousness. The last bit about popping the bubbly, of course, was a dream. Because I could get nicked in Poland by the cops for drinking alcohol in public, if I did.

I have seen police here, harass all those who drink in public. No exceptions. They don’t seem to differentiate between drunken yobbies getting aggressive in public places, from the calm family picnic with wine, or students eking out the last of the six pack. That’s because the law does not differentiate, either. It’s just a pissed law, if ever there was one.

So many people put whatever alcohol they have in thermos flasks. But you can’t really do that with Spanish bubbly, can you? That would turn it into an Improvised Explosive Device, very much like what the Taliban are using against Pole and Brit Corp in Afghanistan.

Boris the Twit?
Last month, Londoners elected the goofy Boris Johnson to the mayoral office. While a journalist, he was slightly in the direction of libertarian. But, once in office, the first thing he does is ban alcohol on the London Underground. No booze tubes allowed in Tube. Shock!

But…how many people do you know go out on the town to have a drink on the metro? How many times does someone ring you up and say: “How about coming out for a drink? No, not the King’s Head, the Circle Line!”

I mean, it just doesn’t happen. It’s a minority pursuit. People who regularly drink on metros are usually having an animated conversation with themselves about the art of Bog Snorkelling.

So I was glad that last night in London – the last night before the ban – what seemed like thousands of people did just that. They went out for a party on the circle line. CNN reports that:

Eyewitnesses have described how some drunken partygoers, often dressed in fancy dress, fought, damaged subway trains and vomited.

A little unpleasant, but I think Boris the Mayor deserved it. Twit. But what could they do if we, in Poland, had a mass drink – in, er…out? Al fresco Alcohol Day, to reclaim the streets, and parks, from the authorities, who think that each and everyone of us is a rampaging thug-in-waiting, unleashed as soon as he has consumed half a bottle of wine, in a park in Warsaw, on a lovely summer’s day, like today.

I drink to your health with a glass of Fanta. Cheers!

Uwaga – CNN link here!

The Beatroot is the author of The Beatroot (if you can get your head around that concept) a blog about Polish politics, current affairs and, occasionally, root vegetables.

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21 thoughts on “Public drinking – why not?

  1. guest says:

    Sorry beatroot ,but i COMPLETELY DO NOT AGREE with you on this topic :)

    Drinking in public is not good…and there are 1000000 reasons why.

  2. There are approximately 8 trillion bars/pubs/inns/restaurants/clubs/discos/smoke-filled-hellholes in Poland. Most of them are open until the last person stumbles into the early-morning light. While I am all for the government staying out of my face and letting me do whatever I damn well please… it would be nice to explain the logic of letting people drink in public, given the following:

    The number of couples drinking on some sort of picnic blanket in the park: maybe 20.

    The number of under-age or barely-of-age, crew-cut’d, spray-painting, hoodie-wearing, loud-talking, badly-singing, stuff-throwing, testosterone-laden, momma’s-precious-angels drinking Tatra/Warka/ShitBeer: 5 million.

    So, that’s the reason and until I no longer see youths unashamedly and openly drinking on trams, drinking in broad daylight on the sidewalk 150 meters from the police station, hanging out in front of my block and drinking and so on… they can keep the law and, hopefully, enforce it in Krakow. The last bit is really important since I’ve never seen a single person drinking in public accosted by anyone sober, policeman/woman or otherwise.

  3. michael farris says:

    What BZ said, except I think he greatly overestimated the number of people on picnic blankets in the park and could mention the guys that hang out in front of stores drinking starting at 8.00 in the morning.

    My own experience; back in the days when I was doing research on Polish Deaf people and sign language I drank in public (cheap vodka shots with juice or carbonated chaser) pretty frequently (hey, the call it _participant_ observation not detached observation) and the police never bothered us.

  4. beatroot says:

    Guest
    Sorry beatroot ,but i COMPLETELY DO NOT AGREE with you on this topic :)

    Drinking in public is not good…and there are 1000000 reasons why.

    So would you like to give me 100000000 reasons why I should not be drinking ‘in public’?

  5. guest says:

    Drinking in general is not good.

    In public places often small children/teens are around and it is not good if they see that driking is something cool, something normal and something you need to spend a perfect evening.

    In public places there are often no toilets, and especially beer makes you pee every 10minutes.

    In public places there are often not enough trash bins and drunk people are lazy bastards and do not take all the trash with them.

    Everything you do in public is like a small promotion campaign ,and alcohol should not be promoted by millions of people in millions of public places. It is like a cancer.

    Many people become agressive when they are drunk and it is better if they are not in public places in these situations. A drunk agressive guy at home in pissed pants is way less dangerous than an agressive, pissed drunk teen in a metro…

    Many people become dumb when they are drunk ,and it is not good if they can jump to the vistula or into their car right after that. We just do not need dead people…

    When i have more time i will post the rest… ;)

  6. geez says:

    Two very different perceptions of reality. Which is true or truer?

    “I’ve never seen a single person drinking in public accosted by anyone sober, policeman/woman or otherwise.” — BZ

    VS.

    “I have seen police here, harass all those who drink in public. No exceptions. They don’t seem to differentiate between drunken yobbies getting aggressive in public places, from the calm family picnic with wine”
    — BR

  7. michael farris says:

    “Which is true or truer?”

    Possibly both. Beat’s in Warsaw and Zimmerman appears to be in Cracow and I’m in Poznan.

    And this is the kind of thing that tends to vary a lot locally in Poland.

    Beat has written before about maybe overly eager police in Warsaw, but they’re mostly pretty relaxed where I am.

  8. beatroot says:

    In public places often small children/teens are around and it is not good if they see that driking is something cool, something normal and something you need to spend a perfect evening.

    Only a puritan would consider drinking ‘not normal’…you mean drinking till you are a staggering wreck is not cool…which it isn’t.

    Drking outside makes you piss in the bushes? Speak for yourself, sunshine.

    Drunks do indeed throw bottles everywhere…again you are confusing drunks with drinking in public.

    Promoting drinking – by drinking in public places (?) – is like promoting cancer? I think you should see a doctor.

    Drunks are dumb and violent? Again confusing drinking with drunkeness.

    So, Guest, you have not given us 1110001010 reasons why drinking in public is a bad thing, but you have given us lots of reasons to be thankful that you are not the Health Minister.

    Thanks for small mercy.

  9. beatroot says:

    As to the differences between Warsaw and elsewhere. It is actually different in warsaw depending on what the cops have been briefed on that month/week/day..So you get very agressive police one week, nothing the next.

    but that changes nothing. To have a law on the books banning alcohol shows contempt for the public, period. I know that in many areas of the US it is the same, but western Europeans are not used to being treated like children by their puritan ‘betters’. Which is why the tube ban in London is seen as soooo stupid.

  10. geez says:

    So should there be laws against being drunk and disorderly?

    Where to draw the line?

    During the days of communism, would pissing on the Lenin statue in Nowa Huta have been considered drunk and disorderly conduct or an act of true Polish national patriotism (in any case if the act was done after having how many beers in how long a period) ?

  11. guest says:

    You did not understand me. Maybe my English is too bad.

    sorry.

  12. geez says:

    Guest, so you are not opposed to drinking alcohol in public places?

    But you are opposed to being drunk and disorderly in public?

    Are you making that distinction?

    Or are you unilaterally opposed to anybody drinking alcohol in public places, even if they drink responsibly without becoming a nuisance to the public ?

    The latter is certainly the way I interpreted your comments.

  13. scatts says:

    In these cases I often come back to the basic truth that there’s no point having a law at all unless it is;

    1/ Going to be upheld.
    2/ Is clear enough for the enforcement officers to act without hesitation or fear of being wrong.
    3/ Is going to stop the [bad] things from happening whilst not stopping too many [good] things happening at the same time.

    Any law that simply states it is illegal to drink in public will never meet the above criteria and was therefore drawn up by an ass and passed by more of the same.

    If they arrested everyone drinking in public there would be no men left in the Polish villages, for a start. And if they can drink in public without being arrested, then everyone else should be able to do the same.

    A well drafted law about dealing with the nastier consequences of drinking (in public or otherwise) would of course be welcome.

  14. guest says:

    I ment beatroot, when i said “you did not understand me” ;)

    His “promoting cancer”, “speak for yourself” and so on comments show that my English seems to be pretty pathetic…

  15. darthsida says:

    Beat,

    As far as the Tube booze ban goes, if no one should be ‘harmed’ by the new law, why would you care that the law exists? I mean, if there was a law “thou shalt not breathe out violet fumes of iodine”, I would not give a flying beret about it, as I (usually) breathe out transparent CO2. The regulation would not concern me, so I would let it be, if it could make any being happier.

    As there is a law prohibiting booze on Tube, I infer the former (or future) existence of drinkers on Tube, affected by that law. There must have been some premises behind the Mayor’s lawmaking. Either there were some people inccorectly using metro as a drinking den – or there will be such people (in which case the law would be preventive).

    In a utopian state whether a citizen is drunk [or not] is shown on forehead-mounted displays. The readout is in Uniform Intoxication Units standardised for every human. The utopian police can read the display and know for sure whom to penalise for drunk acts in public and whom not yet.

    In a overwealthy state, no Uniform Units exist — and one man’s beer is another man’s poison. BUT there are heaps of money begging to be spent. So there are lots of police who can inspect every citizen’s level of decency, level of intoxication or level of, generally, things.

    Neither Britain nor Poland is utopian or wealthy. I may assume politely and somewhat tentatively that Britain is more civilised than Poland – meaning there probably should be more Brits than Poles who are ashamed of litter or canine droppings left at places, or who do not smoke in public, do not get offensively drunk in public and who use Spanish kava only to befriend their friends in most innocent of ways.

    In Poland police would have to work a lottie lot more to separate the innocent wheat from the nasty chaff, to hunt down litterers, droppers, public smokers, get-nasty drunks. There are not enough taxes to secure that kind of police service. If you want my taxpayer’s opinion if I want to pay more taxes for your “Kava with my GF”, then I say boo to you, only in strong words.

    The way out if it, of course, is not to ban drinking — not even to ban getting drunk (for I know guys who can get drunk in a merry, not dangerous fashion). It is to penalise for possible or actual effects of being drunk (a piss on the monument, scats on the grass, puke on the pavement). But this is a theory, or practise which takes years to remodel people’s thinking. In the meantime, to cut down costs of removing litter, dung, smoke and pukes, there is that law — which you see stupid and I see having its reasons.

  16. scatts says:

    (a piss on the monument, scats on the grass, puke on the pavement)

    How do you know what I’m smoking! :-)

  17. darthsida says:

    Scatts, gotcha! You prefer Yankie skunk to your home product! (The English stuff is spelt “grarse”, not “grass” :)

  18. Michael Farris says:

    “I often come back to the basic truth that there’s no point having a law at all unless it is;
    1/ Going to be upheld.
    2/ Is clear enough for the enforcement officers to act without hesitation or fear of being wrong.
    3/ Is going to stop the [bad] things from happening whilst not stopping too many [good] things happening at the same time.”

    This maybe makes sense from a British perspective, from the (majority) Polish perspective it makes more sense to have laws covering as many areas of life as possible but to use common sense in enforcing them. And Poland is hardly alone in this.

    “I may assume politely and somewhat tentatively that Britain is more civilised than Poland”

    I certainly wouldn’t assume that.
    I’ve only been in Britain on the way to getting to or from Poland but from what Brits have told me over the years, Poland lowlifes are a garden party compared to lower income Brits.

  19. Technically, BTW, I live on the edge between Nowa Huta and Krakow. Many local residents would argue that that alone ought to give me plenty of insight into public drinking and …well, I certainly wouldn’t argue with that arguement.

    Also, BTW, here are some reasons why I don’t like it when people drink in public. But, before I launch into my diatribe, I need to preface it with the following:

    Beatroot, “drinking in public” doesn’t mean “sitting on a picnic blanket in the park”. Virtually no one does that, so getting all huffy about being included in the “public” part of “drinking in public” doesn’t really wash. There, let the ‘tribe flow forth…

    Drinking in public means, among other things:

    – Singing a retarded football song in public at 1-4am, yelling obscenities or otherwise just talking loudly because you are brilliant and everyone should hear what you have to say.
    – Humorously smashing your beer bottle in the street or throwing your beer can at whatever will generate the most noise.
    – On the tram, I end up sitting or standing next to someone that would rather drink than take a bath.
    – Puking in public, although this certainly applies to people moving between bars and also people on their way home.
    – Sleeping it off in public. Extra points for doing it on the tram or bus.
    – Acting like an obvious jackass while trying to hide the fact that you’re drinking in public.
    – Menacing in public.
    – Asking for change so your semi/permi-homeless, alcohol-saturated ass can let the good times keep rollin’.

    I haven’t even touched upon the more complex but obviously positive things like how manufacturers of benches would go out of business if it weren’t for people sleeping on, under or around them, not to mention sitting out in front of your block drinking on, around or under them at all hours.

    Also, how are Poland’s uneducated and old supposed to make a bit of extra cash without manning 24-hour alcohol stores? What if you need a bottle of Ukranian brain detergent at 4am but couldn’t because the shop had closed six hours earlier? Shock horror!

    Which brings me to my conclusions:
    – 24 hour alcohol shops… cause of, not solution to problem. Your average alcoholic or teenager-with-1mm-long-hair can not be bothered, for various reasons, to stock up before closing time.
    – Cops who are too lazy to park their cars near problem areas or otherwise walk (OMG!#!$@!$%) through areas where problems are persistent.
    – Kids aged 12 through approximately 26.
    – Lenient sentencing and punishments. Note that I am not an advocate of jail time, rather I’m an advocate of making drunks pay a fairly large fine on the spot and/or community service. I’d think that, oh, 100 hours for the per citation, cleaning up graffiti, garbage, etc. This goes for most traffic violations, too. I don’t think it will rehabilitate anyone but at least some of the vapid graffiti tags and trash (cigarette butts especially) would get picked up, benefiting the rest of us.

    I’ll let you know when I’m running for office so you can vote for me.

  20. […] beatroot guestblogs at Polandian about drinking in public – in Poland and the U.K. Posted by Veronica Khokhlova Share […]

  21. Haden says:

    U3ynRaUWGfxex

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