Whilst recently getting my daily intravenous shot of UK news, I was slightly perplexed to notice that the government will shortly be repealing the 24-hour licensing laws and stopping pubs from serving alcohol round the clock. Perplexed because I never came across a single pub that was open 24 hours. Not one. Not only did I never stumble across (or indeed out of) one but I don’t know of anyone else who found one of these, presumably, mythical establishments. Was the whole thing an elaborate practical joke by New Labour or, more likely, a tool to divert our attention away from the latest catastrophic military intervention that we were embarking on? I think we should be told.
Things are very different in Sydney, however – 24-hour drinking is very much a part of the social scene here. There are some variations from council to council but I can guarantee that, if you are anywhere in central Sydney at any time of the day, you are never more than fifteen minutes away from a cold one. How good is that? Very is the answer you’re looking for. It has to be pointed out that this liberal attitude (a surprisingly rare thing in Australia) to licensing does come at a cost namely zealotry from bouncers on an unprecedented scale. In no particular order, these are some of my favourite denials from bouncers in Sydney:
“Not tonight boys, you look like you’ve had a few too many”. This was said at 8PM on a Saturday evening when the people on the receiving end of the denial had had literally nothing to drink.
“Only three of you can come in”. This was aimed at a group of four but, bizarrely, the bouncer refused to identify which one of us was persona non grata. Admittedly this was at 2AM on a Tuesday so probably for the best that we were refused.
“Had a drink have we boys?” This was stated at 1AM on a Friday night to which the appropriate answer would be “No you fucking knucklehead, I’ve obviously been sitting at home sipping apple juice all evening before lowering ourselves to visit your dingy little cess pit”. Clearly the recipient of that denial didn’t take the opportunity to deliver that line though or I doubt he would have lived to tell me the tale.
To be fair though, unless you happen to encounter a particularly idiotic bouncer (which, lets face it, are a global phenomenon) and you always carry your ID (even I, in the autumn years of my youth, have been ID’d on a number of occasions here), you are sure to be able to get a drink somewhere at 5AM on a Wednesday which can only be a good thing.