Last call in merrie olde England

RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.PR.XIX painted in ...

RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.PR.XIX painted in the colours of 16 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, I look back over a fairly full life, No, I’m not (God willing) going to die anytime soon but, I am arguably on the downhill side, and I seem to see a society going to hell in a handbasket all over the place. Why?

I wonder if we haven’t infantilized it so much that our people no longer have the room to grow up. I, like you, read reports every week of people being reported to Family Services for allowing their kids to play in the park (or the front yard). Kids play, they take risks, they get hurt (hopefully not seriously). That’s how we learn our limits and how things work, through experience.

I had a wonderful childhood, although it would really horrify many parents these days. I managed to remove a tire and rim from an old car when I was four, I started running power equipment at five, and using bucket trucks by the time I was ten, by then it was my responsibility to keep the yard (all five acres of it) mown, with professional style equipment. At ten, I also got my first real rifle, a .22.

What’s the difference here? I was allowed to test and extend my limits, always having impressed on me that I was responsible for what I did, the good stuff, but especially the bad stuff.

I was reminded of that last night, as I watched a biography of Douglas Baden of the RAF, one of the main heroes of the Battle of Britain. He flew that Spitfire like few others and was one of the greatest leaders ever. He also had no legs. He lost them in an aircraft accident, in the early thirties, his comment was that he screwed up (it was actually a British construction that escapes me at the moment). His responsibility, without question.

That’s how you develop responsible citizens and leaders, you give them responsibility, a bit more than you think they can handle, and you trust them, and you allow them the benefits of succeeding, and allow them to pay the costs of failing.

And you know what, it works, even with adults. I’ve found in business, that if I tell someone, to get something done, and give him the needed stuff to do it, and go away, often he (or she) will do so, although not always as I would have (often better, in fact). If he doesn’t, well he’ll pay a price, and if he keeps making the same mistakes, that price goes up, quickly. And soon, he won’t be working for me.

Along that same line Daniel Hannan, MEP had some reflections of the end of ‘Last Call’ in England ten years ago. You might be surprised what happened although I wasn’t. Here’s Dan.

Moralists feared the worst. The typical Englishman, after all, is altogether too fond of booze. As Shakespeare’s Iago puts it, “Your Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander … are nothing to your English … [H]e drinks you with facility your Dane dead drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain. He gives your Hollander a vomit ere the next pottle can be filled.”

England accordingly braced itself for a societal breakdown. The Daily Mail warned against the “unbridled hedonism … with all the ghastly consequences that will follow.” The Sun prophesied a “swarm of drunken youngsters.” The police prepared for “an increase in the number of investigations of drink related crimes, such as rape, assault, homicide and domestic violence.” The Royal College of Physicians predicted that “24-hour pub opening will lead to more excess and binge drinking, especially among young people.”

Ten years on, we can see that each of these predictions were 180 degrees wrong.

When I was in my late teens, it was quite normal for young British men to spend Friday and Saturday nights drinking ’til they were comatose. By my early thirties, it was no longer just men. I remember feeling mildly annoyed that the phenomenon of public female inebriation had emerged at precisely the wrong moment for me: too late to enjoy as a teenage boy, just in time to hit me as a father of daughters.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. The lifting of restrictions was followed by a drastic drop in consumption. Binge drinking among 16 to 24-year-olds sank from 29 to 18 percent. Overall alcohol sales declined by 17 percent. Alcohol-related hospital admissions fell sharply, as did alcohol-fueled crimes. As Christopher Snowdon put it in a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, deregulation “made the country a better place to live by treating people as adults and allowing businesses to meet demand.”

Which is, if you think about it, the essential case for conservatism. Give people more responsibility and they will behave more responsibly. Not all of them; but enough to make freedom worthwhile.

Last call in merrie olde England |

To be honest, I’ve always thought that a lot of the problem in the US with college kids and their binge drinking is simply because they’ve never been trusted with booze before, and besides, it’s always more fun to do things we’re not supposed to, especially if we think we can evade responsibility. That’s true for me, and you, and has always been true, everywhere. I think if we let our kids have a beer or two with dinner in the evening, much of that problem would disappear, in a very short period of time. Church said, “If you would create a black market, destroy a free market”. He’s right, and it doesn’t only apply to governments.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

7 Responses to Last call in merrie olde England

  1. the unit says:

    I do explore a bit, although I don’t read in a lot of the millions of websites. Enough though to maybe not always remember exactly just where I read something that stuck in my head, maybe brain if it still partly if some cells still remain.
    I think you had a post about speaking up, not remaining silent. If not, I see the idea and admonition here. It may have been at Earl of Taint, a photo of Atta saying…”stay calm, you’ll be ok.”
    I hope we will answer the “last call” with appropriate response. I think it started/starts sometime, yesterday, today, tomorrow, by speaking up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, we have to make noise, constructive noise about being for something but noise, loud and sustained. That’s where it starts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    I guess individually we will have or have had the opportunity if we have rejected our “last call.”
    “O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land!
    As on thy highest mount I stand,
    I look away across the sea
    here mansions are prepared for me
    And view the shining glory shore
    My heaven, my home forever more.”

    Short funny (to me) story. Mama passed in ’06 (@91) after her home, my boyhood home, was washed away to the slab in ’05.
    She was in nursing home in Milton then ’til Jan ’06, then in hospice in Pensacola ’til June. Aides told me…”your Mama shore can pray.”
    After her funeral I went back to the nursing home to tell her former roomie (@71) of her passing. I said…”Mama has gone to Beulah Land.”
    This roomie who every time I had visited, she was always reading the Bible…asked me…”Where’s that?”

    My point…besides constructive noise, we got to speak and explain our construction of the noise so as they can understand. 🙂
    (I thought everyone in the South knew where Beulah Land was.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    Down hill side? Ha, ha. You don’t mention you topped the hill first, you still rising higher. Many before backsliden down hill prior to the top. Even I not got to “Twin Peaks” yet. Still little engine thinks he can. Will do fire walk on hot coals to save country. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, and besides, I’m having a good time! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the unit says:

    Hot coal fire walk. Yep, I knew that Jitterbug dance I did about 55 years ago would come in handy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. the unit says:

    Two more days to go. Then school out ’til next fall session. As I write this it’s 11 am, feels like should be LAST CALL for bedtime, well…I got my afternoon nap coming up.
    Awakened at 5 am as wife prepared for teaching today. She works nearly every school day all school year, but only as substitute as they less expensive that way. She didn’t get teaching certificate until our kids were grown, then went on to get education masters degree in teaching reading. Over the last few years local mullet wrapper (bird cage liner to some folks) has had stories how kids in school can’t read. Still she with masters never offered a position, maybe because of age…superiors that be didn’t want a position, missionary or otherwise. I be glad for that. 🙂
    Anyway after 3:30 Friday I won’t be “Home Alone.” Well for a little longer as she will be going to Ormond Beach to her mother’s 92nd birthday party on June 12. I get Red Baron pizza and Burger King a little longer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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