Claire Black: “No one turns up to a dinner party with a bottle of White Ace or cans of Brew”

Claire Black
Claire Black
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COMING out of the supermarket recently I saw a woman wrestling with a massive holdall. She was small, it was huge. It was slumped like a sack of potatoes and looked as heavy, resisting all attempts to hoist it up. As I got closer, she gave up trying to lift it and started to unpack it instead. 

The first thing that emerged was a blue plastic bottle. Super strength cider. She held it between her feet, protectively, as she struggled. There was at least one other bottle inside the bag. I stared. It was rude, but it wasn’t really her I was looking at, it was at that plastic bottle now gripped in her white-knuckled hand. What would make anyone want to drink that?

The answer is straightforward. The alcohol content of strong ciders and lagers is between 7.5 and 10 per cent. Skol Super, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew each contain nine per cent abv. White Ace cider comes in three-litre bottles that total 22.5 units of alcohol. You can buy one for £3.99. If you’re addicted to alcohol and your aim is to get your fix, this is how you do it.

New research done by a London-based charity, Thames Reach, suggests that these drinks are now killing more homeless people than heroin or crack cocaine. They cause liver failure and brain damage, seizures and, eventually, mobility problems and double incontinence.

If you look at the areas of any city where heavy drinkers congregate, these are the brand names on the cans and bottles squashed under benches and overflowing from blue plastic bags.

There’s no other market for them – no one turns up to a dinner party with a bottle of White Ace or a couple of cans of Brew. These are drinks aimed at people for whom alcohol causes most harm. The people who are most vulnerable, most at risk. When you think about it, that’s pretty disgusting.

In Saskatchewan, Canada, a minimum pricing policy – similar to that proposed for Scotland – has significantly reduced the consumption of cheap, high-strength booze. A 10 per cent increase in price led to a 22 per cent decrease in consumption. Vested interests may complain, but what argument is stronger than that?

Contents pulled and pushed around, the woman zipped up her holdall, which I guess was her home. The bag lay prone, half up the wall, half on the ground. She stood for a minute and then sat down on it. The fizz leaked from the bottle as she twisted off the top.

OH BRAD, what have you done? We thought you were so much better that this. If you haven’t yet seen the groundbreaking (that’s one word for it) Channel 5 ad starring Mr Pitt, then don’t deprive yourself for another second. It’s hilariously bad. Shot in black and white, it’s hard to tell, but I’d swear Pitt blushes when he has to say, “The world turns and we turn with it.” Top notes of ripe old cheddar rather than bergamot, lemon or neroli, I’d say.

IMAGINE turning up at work and being told you’re wearing the wrong pants. Literally. That really could happen if you work on the private jet of Abercrombie & Fitch boss, Michael Jeffries. Embroiled in a bit of legal trouble, the “aircraft standards” manual has become public. It stipulates male flight crew are to wear flip-flops, jeans and boxer briefs. They are not allowed to wear coats unless the temperature falls below 10C. I’m guessing the life vests stored under the seats are colour-coordinated too…