Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Limit

Did you know that one can actually drink even less in Spain now than in the UK when in charge of a vehicle? Spanish livers are apparently in terrible shape - has the World Health Organisation been told?
The limit in the British nanny state is 0.8g per litre (whatever that means) while here in socialist Spain the limit is 0.5g/l and even less (0.3g/l) for neophytes. These limits - one small beer perhaps - are screwing the nation's bars, particularly those which are located away from the cities with their handy taxis, metros, buses and apartment blocks. In the City, you are never more than a block away from a bar anyway. The walk will do you good...
In the countryside, the only way to reach these places is by road. So, either you take a taxi there and a taxi back (for: let's say, a net outlay of ninety euros for two beers and a tapa) or you hitch-hike, or you find some pooftah who will drink lemonades all night, or you don't go. Unlike the City, you see, there is only the one road home, so it's easy enough to catch you...
Make no mistake: the ambitious politician in charge of the DGT - the traffic police - has ruled that anyone over the limit will lose several points on his driving licence (yes, we have a point system now), will be fined a massive amount of lolly and may, if he's had two beers rather than one, go to jail, for Crissakes!
No doubt this power-crazed hoodlum (the description is merely my own humble opinion) has a chauffeur to ferry him around so he can talk on his mobile phone, drink, smoke and play with himself. All at the same time.
The reason (cue some heavenly church organ music) is to stop the deaths on Spanish roads. Actually, about 99.999975% of people who drive somewhere amazingly get there in one piece. However, there are those that don't. Perhaps they kill themselves merely to spite this ambitious apparatchik who, no doubt, would like to be head of the UN one day.
Perhaps it's because the secondary road system is shite.
So, strike the nights-out down at the boozer and make an excuse not to go to the weekly quiz night, the two-for-one night, St Valentine’s Day and, of course, the Carnival. Actually – if you wore a cunning disguise...
Instead, how about a nice steak down at the Argentino's on the beach washed down with a refreshing glass of diet-cola? And if the wine-waiter bamboozles you into taking a glass or two of the House Red, why, you can order a taxi to take you home and another one the following morning to pick up your car. Tripling the cost to you of the dinner.
But wait, I have a better idea. Ring the steakhouse and tell the waiter to cook you up a steak to perfection, wrap it in tinfoil, strap it to the back of his moped and deliver the damn' thing to your door - together with half a bottle of the aforementioned House Red. So civilised.
Actually, I read that an aggressive Spanish TV company recently documented the speed of the traffic tsar himself while in charge of a chauffeur doing thirty cliks over the speed limit and overtaking, without recourse to a winky, on the right (Antena 3). He was probably too busy with his mobile phone to notice.
This past summer, drunk from her success with the smoking issue (you now have to ask the harassed barman to press a silly button before the cigarette machine works), the Ministra de Salud (Hah!) proposed to put a health warning on bottles of alcohol, including wine. Salud, of course, means ‘Cheers’. Apparently she thinks that there are some people amongst the electorate who can read yet who can't think. Aghast (for once), El Presidente Thapo put a stop to this madness. However, between the socialist 'acoso' against smoking, drinking and now sex (yes, they are closing down the principal attractions of the Barrio Chino in Barcelona and elsewhere), to say nothing of their attacks on the missionary position, there is increasingly little left with which to amuse oneself.
Except to count all of the people you know who are now out of business.
Certainly, at this time of year, between the empty hotels, the drop in house-sales and the fear of the local population to be out after dark, the little yellow lights are closing down all over Broadway…
Better stay home and trash some grey-cells on the tele-basura. The brainless TV.


The Singing Organ-Grinder said...

Riding a pushbike in Barcelona a couple of years ago, I stopped at traffic lights and was hit at speed by a drunken driver. How do you propose to prevent that?

Lenox said...

Sling him in jail, probably. But I'm talking about the drunken drivers who missed you. It can happen.

RM Woods said...

Wow, Lenox, do I detect a note of bitterness in this post of yours? I guess you have never had a relative or friend killed (or almost) by a driver who had drunk too much (or even a little). The fact is (I think it's a fact) that even a little alcohol starts to dull the senses and perception as soon as it hits the brain, making most (if not all) drivers less than capable of handling their powerful piece of equipment (I'm talking about autos here!). Here in snowy Canada there are daily reports in the media of drivers, who, while not "drunk" or "wasted" or whatever, have not been able to control their vehicle as well as they might.
Ask someone (like me) who has had family members suffer - thankfully only one killed - from someone who was at or over the "limit." Even though there may be some "suffering" inflicted economically on some, or even many, restaurant/bar owners, the fact that persons less than thoughtful of the safety of others will be encouraged to choose another way home, perhaps using a "designated driver", makes me much less wary about where I go at night for cheer and company, knowing that the drivers I may see on the road will be at least haze-free in their driving responses.
Happy New Year!

Lenox said...

There's no hard and fast answer - but I'm taking the corner for less government control, Big Brother, and those deeply-troubled people who assume their moral right (especially when not elected) to restrict our freedoms, habits, occupation and pass-times.
It's (sort of) why so many people like to live in another country - where the ever-more vigilant control over society is - since they are now not citizens - to a degree is relaxed.

At a local level - the town where I live in southern Spain has eight hundred bars and a population of just eight thousand. It only takes one person to decide against drinking up his beer and the whole community crashes to the ground.

Happy new year to everyone. I shared a bottle of 'champán' with the Missus last night, comfortably at home.

RM Woods said...

Hi Lenox:

I agree with you about the apparently increasing presence of the "nanny" state, but is not a "nanny" one who is responsible for non-responsible persons (i.e., children)? I have a friend who reacted in much the same way when our government, years ago, mandated the obligatory wearing of seat belts in automobiles, by all drivers and passengers; she felt the government was intruding in an area where private responsibility was more important; was she right? I'll have to ask her is she still feels this way. BTW, she always wore a seat belt, even before this legislation; she just felt that the government should stay out of it.

P.S. I wish I were in Mojácar: it's about minus 14 here today, with a sensación termica of minus 30. Enjoy! ¡Feliz Fiesta de Los Reyes!

Here's an article from a national paper this morning; it's on topic, I think, but I shall end with it, before I bore you (and your readers mind-numbingly)

The National Post Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday 2 January 2008
Drunk drivers “not getting the message,” Fantino say

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino says his force plans to provide the government with a list of recommendations aimed at making the roads safer from drunk drivers.
The suggestions wi1l include stiffer penalties for individuals convicted of drinking and driving, he said, and reducing the administrative duties so that more officers can be patrolling the roads.
Commissioner Fantino also advocates for giving police the power to impound the vehicle of an alleged drunk driver for 30 days after a first offence, and 60 days after a second offence. "There's a number of things that we need to do," Commissioner Fantino said in a telephone interview yesterday.
After almost 40 years of policing, Commissioner Fantino said he is shocked that motorists still are not getting the "Don't drink and drive" message.
"There is no lack of information. What is in fact lacking is the ability, the commitment of people to heed the warning, to listen to the advice ... to anticipate that we're not invincible, that alcohol and driving is a lethal mix.”
He said drunk driving has been "sanitized" to appear less serious than, for example, shootings - but both crimes can be just as deadly. In an open letter written days before New Year's Eve celebrations. Commissioner Fantino noted that "drunk driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada." He was responding to new statistics that show drinking and driving is on the rise in Canada. Of the more than 440 traffic fatalities on Ontario highways last year, more than 70 involved alcohol, the commissioner said.
On Sunday, police charged two men with impaired driving after an accident on Highway 401 in Toronto. The first driver was apprehended after fleeing the scene. Then, while emergency crews were attending to the accident, another car reportedly crashed into a fire truck. That man was also charged with impaired driving.
"In the absence of other things kicking in, like people taking responsibility and taking a more common sense approach to these things, I think the system has to kick in; Commissioner Fantino said.
That’s why the OPP has ramped up its R.I.D.E. {Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program from a seasonal initiative to one that is enforced year round.
He noted that the Ontario government heeded the OPP's "reasonable recommendations" to crack down on street racing. Now, anyone driving more than 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit is treated as a racer, and can have their vehicles impounded.
"We have similar plans that hopefully will make Ontario an even safer place for all of us," Commissioner Fantino said.

National Post

(P.S. Lenox, I am not sure what this final, veiled but possibly ominous comment means, about "similar plans..." RMW)