I would be much more sympathetic to the calls to raise the drinking age if I saw any effort by older people to adopt a healthy drinking culture. 18 year olds can join the army and be killed in action. They can get married. So anyone who tells me they can't have a quiet pint is going to get laughed at by me.
It isn't because young people are extraordinarily responsible when it comes to alcohol. And it certainly isn't because there are no risks or negative side effects. Way too many people I know have had misadventures due to alcohol.
But it urks me to have a bunch of middle class, middle aged* people claiming that the solution is to make it more difficult for young people to get hold of alcohol. Not once have I heard *anyone* suggest us older folk could ease off the booze. So far I haven't heard a single concerned campaigner suggest that leaving the beers at home when you have a family bbq might send a useful message. Or that it's possible to have social gathering (other than a kid's birthday party) without booze. Nope. 19 year olds shouldn't be able to drink because they aren't mature enough, but we're too clueless to have a fun Friday night in town with our workmates if we stay sober.
Now, to be honest, I'm not that surprised new zealanders drink a fair bit. We're not known for expressing our feelings, we don't dance, we don't talk passionately about things. That is, unless we've been drinking. Which means if we stop boozing, we'll either have to: stop having parties, keep drinking too much, or get better at having a good time without alcohol. I think just maybe we can find a way to dance sober without losing some vital part of our unique cultural heritage?
I remember a friend of mine complaining that the only work events which were designed to get people socialising all involved alcohol. In fact, most of them revolved around alcohol (seriously - dozens of different beers, but two bags of chips - and that was the responsible hosts). Which made me think that it's an entirely fair cop to aim to have at least half of all work social events be alcohol free. Next to inconceivable for most workplaces I've been in. The major exception was a place which was miles from anywhere and had no meaningful public transport - no one drank because they were all driving. The company bought us takeaways for lunch on Fridays instead.
So here's the challenge. Any political party that wants to change the law on drinking - hold your election night party with No Alcohol. If you can't (not even just this once), re-think your policy to target a *much* wider age range.
* just like me really
Well I've finally ended the vast, endless savanna of procrastination that was me not getting a motorbike license*. Passed the Basic Handling Skills test with a 'good' pass, and got 35/35 for the theory. I now have a dubious looking bit of paper which allows me to legally ride a motorcycle on NZ roads. They promise me a new proper license with god knows what embarrassing photo on it later.
So I will shortly enter the ranks of people prepared to sit outside in the rain in order to get anywhere. Assuming (that is) I can find a bike that is short enough for my squitty little legs, that will cope on the motorway out to visit the in-laws, isn't hideously expensive or hideously pretentious, and I have a hope in hell of controlling and enjoying the ride. So far they're looking pretty thin on the ground.
* 20 years at least.