The Government (bless 'em) is worried about the amount of crime related to alcohol and the cost to the National Health Service (and therefore the government, which mean the taxpayer) of alcohol-related health problems. So, like all governments, they propose the introduction of a law (as if we didn't have enough already). I don't remember what the bill is called, but I think it is to be presented to the House of Commons next week.
I have said on other occasions and in other places that one should never trust what one reads in newspapers. But that is rather too much of a generality as there is usually some truth in newspaper reports - although it does rather depend on which newspaper one is reading. Anyway, my fish-wrap of choice advised that the bill will, among other things, impose a minimum price per unit of alcohol. 40p per unit is the figure being bandied about. This would have the effect of driving up the price of the stronger beers and ciders at supermarkets (and possibly corner shops and newsagents) which, it is hoped, would result in lower sales of the stronger beers to youngsters and thereby reduce the occurrence of antisocial behaviour. It would also mean (according to the paper) that a bottle of wine would cost at least £3.60, although (again according to the paper) no supermarket sells a bottle of wine for less than that at present.
I have carried out some market research myself. OK, so if I wanted to do the job properly I suppose I should have trekked around at least one supermarket, but I just looked at the bottle on our kitchen worktop which I intend opening later today. (The bottle, not the worktop.) That bottle is 13.5% proof and there are 1.1 units of alcohol per 10cl. The bottle contains the standard 75cl , so I suppose that means it also contains about 8.5 units of alcohol. At 40p per unit, that would mean a minimum price of - guess what - £3.60. But the wine in that bottle, as I said, is 13.5% proof. What of the lower proof-rated wines? OK, so it is unusual nowadays to find a wine of 11% or 11.5%, but 12% is not uncommon, which my back of the envelope mental arithmetic means 8 units of alcohol and a minimum price of £3.20. See? I said you shouldn't believe everything you read in newspapers!
Another thing that this bill is said to contain is a restriction on the BOGOF policy, not that I have ever seen wine (or any alcohol) offered as buy one, get one free. Buy six bottles but pay for five is not unusual in France and, according to the paper, similar offers are common in England. For instance, a wine costing, say, £8 a bottle might sell at £14 for two. "Oh ho," says Nanny, "that is encouraging people to drink more. We can't have that!" What tosh!! I'm sure that the vast majority of people who buy wine and who take advantage of offers like that are just putting the second bottle away for another day, just the way they would do with soap powder or baked beans.
Obesity is reported to be one of the greatest health-problems we currently have, but I have heard of no plans to curb the sales of fattening foods. Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that. It might give somebody ideas!
Of course, the (possible) restrictions imposed will not affect me as I so very rarely buy wine in England anyway. But the restriction of personal freedom is a matter of concern.
If we pop up the road just a little from the church in Pouancé we arrive at my favourite boulangerie or baker's. I drive here most days when we are sur place for our lunchtime baguette - and I usually succumb to the mouth-watering display of patisserie as well!