It’s different

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by grahamharrowell

The Guardian tells me that in France the Police are to be deprived of the right (enjoyed by everyone else) to take a glass of wine, beer, cider (the Guardian omits perry and hydromel) with their lunch. To the sanctimonious British who throw up their hands in horror at the thought this seems to be a step in the right direction.

I admit that I was shocked over 5 years ago when I walked into the canteen and saw cops carrying guns who were about to get back on their motor bikes sipping at a beer. French, Spanish, Italian and even German colleagues were bewildered by my reaction. It seems that in Bavaria the police chief tried to stop his officers from having a glass with their lunch and the courts ruled that it was a German policeman’s right to enjoy a glass of beer with his/her meal.

The point is that in France (and elsewhere) lunch is the most important meal of the day and employers aren’t allowed to impose random restrictions on drinking but equally employees aren’t allowed to render themselves unfit for work through drink. In the case of those driving they must still keep well below the prescribed limit.

One reason why our European colleagues take a different view of a lunch time glass of wine is because it is just that. When the cheese board comes round the French will take a small slice from a couple of cheeses to enjoy the taste, unlike the brit who will hack off a quarter of a pound. So it is with the wine or the beer. The French will have a glass, not even a half bottle, with a 3 or 4 course lunch. They will enjoy the taste and return to work refreshed. Compare this to the British who, when having a drink with their lunch was tolerated, drank 5 pints of lager with a bag of salted peanuts and spent the afternoon in a beery haze. It’s a cultural thing with a long history. Countries where wine was made and drunk benefitted from its keeping qualities and could enjoy it at leisure. Those of us in the beer producing north new that the ale didn’t keep and so drank it quickly before it went off. The binge drinking culture was established.

People in UK should consider that there is more than one way of doing things and that the British way is not always the only way or the best way. Go and live in another country (even a European one) and you will find that things are not the same. many people move abroad and expect everything to be just as at home. They are in for a shock and often a disappointment. Health care, insurance, labour laws, social security and taxation can all be very different. For example most of Europe accepts that X ray equipment is safe if properly used and, bowing to international experts, has a common approach to its use. France discounts international scientific opinion and puts its faith in French scientists who consider it use much more risky and hence there are much stricter controls in place.

So, whilst it seems disturbing to us to see a police officer having a beer with his lunch let’s remember that we may not be right all the time and that the prohibitions we face in the UK are the result of our own inability to consume alcohol in a responsible way.

One Response to “It’s different”

  1. It’s all true. When I was first in Paris I peered in the back of a CRS van, parked up in a side street, and saw them sitting round a table having lunch complete with a bottle of wine.

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