Donaldson bows out with blast against drinking
In particular, he attacked what he called a "middle-class obsession" that believes watered-down wine for teenagers helps them understand and appreciate alcohol. Please don't call me middle class, but I think this "obsession" is sensible. When I was growing up in East London there weren't many wine drinkers around but my father -- an extremely moderate drinker -- would have a bottle of pale ale or brown ale with the Sunday meal and would give me a small glass of beer mixed with lemonade or ginger beer. Bring back shandy, I say! I was introduced to beer in a gradual way until I was old enough to go to the pub with my father and enjoy the Real McCoy.
The problem with drinking in Britain is that we tell young people "You can't go to pubs until you're 18" but when that liberating birthday arrives we send them off to the pub, totally unprepared for the impact that drink will have.
Of course, as society has changed, access to alcohol has become much easier and young people can now obtain drink from supermarkets, with the help of adults who buy cheap booze and pass it on outside the stores. On reflection, I think I would prefer young people to drink watered-down wine or shandy at home than hang around outside Tesco for some cut-price vodka.
Sir Liam is about the retire. I'm pleased he surived swine flu and hope he enjoys a glass or two of sherry over Christmas while his children -- if has any -- sneak vodka in to their orange juice.