Monthly Archives: June 2016

It’s time to stop work, it’s time to drink beers ….

Carlsberg Euro2016 4x500ml packWith Euro 2016 now underway and the first England game played (along with the warning of being banned if beers fuelled fans don’t behave) the Institute of Alcohol Studies have decided this would be a perfect time to run a study comparing UK and French alcohol advertising during the tournament.

 “People of England, lend me your ears. It’s time to stop work, it’s time to drink beers.” Thus sounds the rallying call to a nation of football fans. This call to arms is part of Carlsberg’s latest advertising campaign designed to cement the association between consuming alcohol and supporting your national team. Carlsberg is the ‘official beer’ of the UEFA Euro Championship and the England Football team and this year’s Euro Championship in France promises to be the biggest ever with 24 teams playing 51 matches (instead of the usual 16 teams). This means it will also be the biggest ever in terms of sponsorship rights. UEFA expects to generate between €450 and €500 million in sponsorship revenue, an increase in more than 50% from the EURO 2012 tournament.

Carlsberg’s latest advertising campaign will run in the lead up and throughout the tournament. Supporters are encouraged to “pack the pubs” because “games aren’t just won on the pitch, they’re won in the pub.” However, it would appear that the real winners could be the pubs themselves as Carlsberg UK states that football tournaments are worth more than £60 million to the on-trade and claim that showing live football matches can add 60% to an outlet’s rate of sale. With this in mind, Carlsberg is investing heavily in the on-trade by providing 10,000 point of sale kits to pubs in England, Wales and Scotland consisting of fixture posters, planners, flags and wigs. The company has already begun rebranding 19 pub across England as ‘The Three Lions’, substituting the pubs’ previous signage with branded fascia and signs featuring England footballers such as Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy. The selected pubs will also be provided with exclusive branded glassware featuring the three lions crest to deliver “an incredible experience” for consumers.

For those fans who prefer to watch their football at home, Carlsberg has created limited-edition packaging which features a mix of the brand’s traditional green colour with the French colours of red, white and blue alongside images of stadiums, supporters and footballs (example illustrated). Packaging for Carlsberg Export features a silver football boot where the studs have been replaced by French landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Both products offer the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Paris and the opportunity to present the ‘Carlsberg Man of the Match’ trophy at an England group game. Armchair fans are also offered the chance to vote for the man of the match through Carlsberg’s social media platforms. Recent statistics from NHS Scotland show that levels of alcohol consumption in Scotland have risen and this has been attributed to the growth in off-trade sales. Even though the Scottish national team did not qualify for the EURO finals, this has not prevented alcohol brands such as Carlsberg and Heineken from filling the supermarket shelves across the UK with limited edition packs. Alcohol continues to be promoted as the essential accompaniment to watching the football. With some supermarkets offering 20 cans of Carlsberg (440ml) for as little as £10 throughout the tournament there is every chance that this upward trend will continue.

Carlsberg has sponsored the UEFA Euro finals since 1988 and has been associated with the England national side for over 20 years. Sponsorship of the 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine entitled the brand to: have its logo on pitch side electronic sponsor boards and many other areas; have exclusive marketing rights for alcoholic beverages within stadia and ‘fan zones’ (outdoor areas where fans without match tickets could congregate to watch live matches on giant screens); and use EURO 2012 logos on its products. The 2012 tournament was reportedly worth £609 million to Carlsberg which explains why it devotes around a third of its marketing budget to sponsoring the Euros. Even though Carlsberg reportedly paid $75 million for a new four-year contract beginning in 2014, Loi Evin legislation in France prohibits the advertisement of alcoholic products at sporting events. This means that this year the beer company will not have perimeter board advertising, or broadcast sponsorship in the tournament’s host market. However, trade industry press reports that “TV idents will be shown during matches broadcast on ITV including the tournament’s semi-finals and final, while perimeter LED advertising boards will highlight the lager brand at every match”. This could mean that digital technology may be used to insert virtual advertising images into a live broadcast to replace the pitch-side advertising which is subject to Loi Evin regulations. This practice has been in place for several years and has previously been used during England friendly matches played in Switzerland and the Netherlands. This allows for more targeted advertising to be seen by viewers from other countries. A deal has also been struck to serve Kronenbourg’s new non-alcoholic ‘Tourtel Twist’ brand at the stadiums. Kronenbourg is owned by Carlsberg and the alcoholic version of Kronenbourg will also be sold at the official fan zones, giving the brand an exclusive presence at the tournament.

This year’s tournament therefore provides a perfect opportunity to conduct a natural experiment, comparing the amount of advertising and sponsorship in matches broadcast in France (with restrictions on broadcast and pitch-side) with the amount in matches broadcast in the UK (where the pitch-side restrictions will apply because the matches are played in France, but not the broadcast restrictions). The Institute for Social Marketing has secured funding from the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) to conduct a frequency analysis of visual and verbal references to alcohol on a sample of Euro 2016 matches broadcast on UK, French and Irish television. In this way, we will be able to assess first of all how the Loi Evin reduces UK and Irish citizens’ exposure to alcohol references, and secondly, what further reduction in UK and Irish citizens’ exposure could be obtained if the Loi Evin was implemented in these countries.

Written by Dr Richard I. Purves, Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Stirling.

The bolding is mine as it highlights the parts of this piece that I felt were key.  I look forward to reading the results and hope we remain in the competition and alcohol fuelled violence doesn’t get us ejected

Could alcohol ban stop Euro 2016 violence? – video

The French government wants alcohol banned near venues and fan zones, after three days of clashes in Marseille | BBC, UK

Edited to add 27th June 2016:

Alcohol adverts seen ‘almost once a minute’ during Euro 2016 games

TV viewers frequently saw slogan of tournament sponsor Carlsberg throughout England and Wales matches, says charity | Guardian, UK

Euro 2016 boosts supermarket sales as football fans stock up on booze

Euro 2016 helped supermarkets to their first sales increase in over a year, new monthly data shows | Independent, UK

Beer sales soar in UK as Britons drink 31 million more pints in three months

The Euro 2016 football championships gave off-licences and supermarkets a boost, as fans stocked up on booze to drink at home | Independent, UK

And it’s not just the Euro’s (5th Sept 2016)

The British Olympic team’s Strongbow sponsorship deal came under fire from alcohol and health groups in a letter to the Guardian, warning over ‘strong evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to drink at an earlier age’. Strongbow featured official Team GB branding on its products and spent several million pounds on a “supporting the supporters” campaign in Britain. Heineken, who own the brand, defended the partnership stating it would be ‘exclusively focussed on the adult fans’ and ‘Strongbow will not be sold or promoted at Games venues, feature in TV coverage, or be linked to any individual member of Team GB’.

The Olympics helped to boost drinks sales, with beers, wines and spirits up 3% in the retail trade during the Olympic Games, according to Nielsen data reported Off License News. However hot weather may also have been a significant factor with soft drinks up 9.3%. Beer and cider grew 6.9% whilst sparkling wine continued its growth trend, up 13.9% compared to the same period the previous year.

Govt alcohol policy moves further away from health focus ……

modern crime prevention strategyIt was with a heavy heart that I read this the morning after Easter Monday.  I’ll share here Alcohol Policy UK’s exceptionally thorough review of the policy change but the bottom line is it is moving further away from health not closer towards it as a Govt policy focus.  So forget Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) this drives it even further into the remit of law and order 🙁

The existence of a national alcohol strategy for England is arguably no more; a new crime prevention strategy has set out alcohol-related crime objectives, but signals the end of a central policy also covering health and other areas previously unified in a single document.

In 2004 the first national strategy for England set out a framework spanning prevention, treatment, crime, and other key areas. Largely viewed as only any good for getting the ball rolling, it was subsequently met with the expansive ‘Safe. Sociable. Sensible’ strategy and local toolkit in 2007.

Next came the Tory-LibDem coalition’s 2012 attempt, hitting the headlines for its announcement of minimum unit pricing (MUP), taking all by surprise. Of course MUP plans were shelved, although it was claimed to have not been ruled out by the still current Home Secretary. In reality, eyes lie on Scotland’s ongoing wrangle, but silence on MUP from the current Government suggests a desire for ample wiggle-room. Taxation policy has also favoured business over health calls in recent budgets.

Four years later and a new ‘Modern Crime Prevention Strategy’ confirmed speculation that alcohol policy will no longer have its own national strategy covering all the debated ‘£21 billion’ contributing areas. Cynics might suggest the Government knows local alcohol services are under increasing pressure as local authority cuts bite harder, and so strategy objectives to improve provision would be vulnerable to calls of hypocrisy.

Talking tough on alcohol-related crime and disorder though has always been popular with politicians; the crime strategy’s alcohol section reminds us half of all violent crime is alcohol-related, and tells us ‘the harms associated with alcohol remain too high’. Users of the night time economy should be able to do so ‘without the fear of becoming a victim of crime’. Whilst a clear emphasis on partnership approaches is set out, ‘personal responsibility is just as important’; the strategy says ‘Individuals must shoulder their share of responsibility when it comes to decisions they take about drinking to excess, committing acts of violence or disorder, and not challenging the unacceptable behaviour of others.’

More of the same?

The crime strategy sets out three areas for addressing alcohol harms:

  • Improving local intelligence
  • Effective local partnerships
  • Equipping the police and local authorities with the right powers

Nothing not previously seen on the pages of alcohol strategies, but always room for improvement? To improve local intelligence, it says the Government will publish information about where alcohol-related crime and disorder is occurring on Local partnerships though may already feel they are making the best use of available data. Local analyst capacity may be more of an issue, whilst alcohol-related crime has been inconsistently ‘flagged’ on police databases.

NHS trusts will also be ‘expected’ to share more data about alcohol-related violence to support licensing decisions, though of course cannot do so with the intention that data will be considered on public health grounds. Licensing authorities will be ‘encouraged’ to share information about problem premises and individuals. Mention of helping local authorities to have the ‘right analytical tools and capability’ is also made, but without identifying the mechanism.

On ‘effective local partnerships’, the strategy states that ‘police, local authority and health partners must work alongside local businesses to devise local solutions and strategies’. Another round of ‘Local Alcohol Action Areas’ (LAAAs) will be launched, but worth noting the previous round came with no additional resources other than input from central departments. Areas will be able to bid to take part in round two later this year.

Working with industry partners to support local business action is also identified, with more examples of aims or initiatives to ‘support’, ‘improve’ or ‘build on’. Diversifying the night time economy, Challenge 25, Best Bar None are cited – approaches that readers will be familiar with, though arguably lacking any robust evaluation. Influencing ‘positive behaviour change’ and pursuing a life-course approach to prevention are also touched on, but without specifics.

In response to the strategy the Portman Group issued a press release and a new infographic video promoting local alcohol partnership schemes.

On ‘equipping local authorities and the police with the right powers’, the  Government says it will ensure police and local authorities can operate within a licensing framework that allows them to take the ‘right action’. It identifies changes to the Late Night Levy to make it ‘more flexible’, putting Cumulative Impact Policies (CIPs) on a statutory footing, and giving civilian staff powers to inspect premises on behalf of police. Additionally, consultation on a new ‘group review intervention power’ (GRIP) will take place to potentially allow licensing conditions on a group of premises within an identified problem area.

In announcing the new strategy, the Home Secretary Theresa May said it would ‘build on the previous reforms to the licensing act’, touted in 2010 as ‘re-balancing’ back in favour of communities, but the figures suggest it may be hard to argue any actual re-balancing has since taken place. However CIPs – often described as ‘saturation zones’ – do appear to have been fairly widely used, so changes to these and the levy may be welcomed by licensing authorities. Trade bodies though have not welcomed this part of the strategy. No mention of the use of a health objective in relation to CIPs proposed for consultation in the 2012 strategy.

Health and treatment?

PHE will still support health and prevention related activity and have previously said they would continue to call for MUP, but a lack of a top level national strategy may well raise questions over the level of genuine commitment to address alcohol harms at Government level. Health groups may argue policy is veering further from the approach set out in ‘Health First’, an independent ‘evidence based’ strategy set out in 2013. Indeed England fared least well in the recent ‘Four Nations’ review of UK alcohol policies. Alcohol actions within the crime strategy are unlikely to alter the current public health view of the Government’s approach to alcohol harms.

And interestingly these were 3 other news stories that were featured that day:

Banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT: March 2015

Guidance on the banning of below-cost sales of alcohol in England and Wales, and a duty plus VAT permitted price calculator | Home Office, UK

“High time” for a minimum alcohol price

A new report from Alcohol Concern Cymru highlights the extent to which cheap booze is available on Wales’ high streets, and emphasises the need for a minimum unit price for alcohol | Alcohol Concern, UK

Weaker drinks ‘to solve health problems’, say councils

Weaker beers, ciders, wines and sprits are what is needed to tackle drink-related health problems, local councils have said | BBC, UK

All these guidance and suggestions and yet the Govt refuse to implement the one strategy necessary: moving alcohol back under the remit of health and introducing MUP.

This is profoundly sad news for UK citizens as it suggests that the Govt isn’t interested in how alcohol impacts on our health or society from a family perspective but only on how it impacts on society with regard to crime.  It is enough to make me want to pack up this blog entirely and leave the country ……….

Edited to add: 20th Sept 2016

British Social Attitudes survey 2015: is support for minimum pricing growing?

Alcohol increases skin cancer risk

alcohol and skin cancerAs we head into what us Brits optimistically call summer here’s some research looking at alcohol and skin cancer risk!

It’s not just exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light which can increase your chances of developing the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma. Now, new research published in the British Journal of Dermatology, says drinking alcohol regularly could also increase your risk – by up to 55%.

Each year in the UK there are approximately 13,000 new melanoma cases. The chances of being diagnosed with the disease increase with age, however skin cancers are becoming more common in young people.

Exactly how alcohol consumption increases your chances of developing melanoma is not fully established, but the researchers for this latest study say that ethanol (the type of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks) converts to a chemical compound called acetaldehyde soon after you’ve consumed it. It’s thought acetaldehyde may make skin more sensitive to light, which in turn generates molecules that damage cells in a way that can cause skin cancers.

The study, by researchers from Italy, Sweden, USA, Iran and France, was in the form of a meta-analysis, a type of research that combines results from previous investigations. In this case the results were drawn from 16 studies, for a combined total of 6,251 cases of melanoma.

The study focused on the effect of what the researchers classify as moderate to heavy drinking (more than one drink, or 12.5g of ethanol a day), and found that this increases melanoma risk by 20%.

There has been very little research into the effect of heavy drinking (more than 50g of ethanol a day) and skin cancer. However, it was noted that risk increased in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed, allowing the researchers to estimate an increased risk of 55% for heavy drinkers.

So alcohol is a risk to both our biggest outside surface area (skin) as well as our inside surface area (gut).  There really is no upside to booze from a health perspective at all …..

Plus giving up booze will help your skin full stop as reported in Vogue no less!

Why Giving Up Alcohol Could Transform Your Skin

Friday Sober Jukebox – Broken Stones

sally bramptonSo with a week to go before I hit 1000 days I’ve become very reflective and the recent news that Sally Brampton walked into the sea not to return made me both profoundly sad and introspective.  This image is taken from her blog and I believe it is her sat on the stones and pebble beach near where she lived.  I used to love reading her column in The Sunday Times Style as she was so full of wisdom and compassion.  Her own ongoing struggle with depression and her past battle with alcoholism was known and added to, not took away from, her ability to offer comfort and advice.

She renounced alcohol in 2003.  ‘It would take three years and a 28-day spell in rehab for alcoholism, as well as attendance at AA meetings, for Sally to recover completely.’ (Daily Mail)

This is the post that remains on her website and resonates so strongly for me:

This is where I write about pretty much everything I love; usually emotion, because I think that’s where we all connect. I write about depression because I have depression, and I think it’s good to talk about it. Sharing can bring us out of the dark and into the light. That’s why I wrote a book about it; Shoot the Damn Dog, and I am pleased and honoured that it helps so many people, who write to me sharing their experiences. I wish I could reply to every letter, but I simply can’t, because there are so many, but sometimes, it’s just good to get our thoughts down on paper. It makes us feel less alone and I hope it helps you as much as it helps me to know that we are in this together, and that there are people who truly understand.”

Obituaries were written by The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent.

But the most poignant was the page dedicated to her in The Sunday Times Style magazine a few weeks ago which shared some of her gems of wisdom from her column that ran for 8 years to ‘celebrate her infinite wisdom.’

Sally Brampton RIP 2016

This tune played recently on my rounds and it felt apt – the lyrics, the images of the beach and sea and so I share it here in memory of Sally.

Rest in Peace.


Pub hours to be extended for Queen’s 90th birthday

whyWhen I read this headline over the Easter week-end – this was my reaction! (see image).  Honestly – WHY oh WHY is the Queens 90th official birthday an excuse to extend pub opening hours?  Now I’m no royalist but REALLY?  Is this how she wants to be remembered – with a license for us all to get <excuse the pun> royally sh*tfaced?

Here’s the news story courtesy of the BBC:

Pub opening hours will be extended in England and Wales on 10 and 11 June to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, David Cameron has announced.

Pubs will be able to stay open an extra two hours on both days until 01:00.

The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year – her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on a Saturday in June – this year on 11 June.

The longer opening hours also coincide with England’s and Wales’s first games in the European football championships.

On Saturday 11 June, Wales play Slovakia at 17:00 BST and England play Russia at 20:00 BST.

Announcing the extension during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron said: “I’m sure that will be welcomed right across the House.”

Late opening hours have taken place on other occasions in recent years including the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.

Pubs wishing to extend their opening hours for a one-off occasion normally need to apply to their local council for a temporary event notice. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate licensing regulations.

So the only way we know how to celebrate the Queen’s birthday or football is with booze?  What exactly does that teach our kids?  Arthur’s image for A Royal Hangover was depressingly accurate …….

A Royal Hangover
A Royal Hangover

Starting Addiction Treatment

starting addiction treatmentThis was an excellent blog by Castle Craig looking at starting addiction treatment.  Therapist Christopher Burn speaks about the feelings of anxiety patients experience at the start of treatment and the challenges of committing to the treatment process.

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ (Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities)

When starting treatment, you may feel trapped and anxious. But this is an opportunity to deal with your addiction problem and turn your life around. Make the most of it! If you can take a positive view of entering treatment, then you’re off to a flying start.

Please do not think that treatment means that you sit and wait for others to fix you. That may work for a broken leg but it does not work for addiction. You must be proactive. Others can give guidance. They can even give you inspiration. They cannot change you. Only you can do that.

Some choices will be taken away – no drink or drugs, probably not much entertainment or lying in bed. But gradually these choices will be given back. You have to learn to make the right choices – between what you want and what is good for you. You will be encouraged to take responsibility for your recovery.

The treatment process is one of change – you are here to change yourself. Change happens through constant challenge, support and education and this process happens all day, through your interaction with your peers. This is what being in a therapeutic community means.

Your therapist will meet you and will help devise a treatment plan to take you through the process of change. It will be tailored to your needs but it will be flexible.

A vital part of treatment is group therapy. For newcomers this can be frightening. Very few people have had any prior experience of this. Participation is vitally important; the peer group is the most effective medium for change and the most important recovery tool that you have. Learn to put yourself in the spotlight – by doing so, others will be able to help you.

For most people, the stages of treatment happen like this:

  • Face reality, learn about addiction and deal with denial;
  • Become willing to change and ask for help;
  • Discover and explore spirituality as a source of help and a means of ‘filling the void’;
  • Engage in self discovery;
  • Identify, with the help of your group and therapist, obstacles to change;
  • Commit to make changes;
  • Take action to change.

Treatment is a mirror of the world outside and a place to practice life skills. Everything that happens is a chance to practice – if someone annoys us, ask why, and devise ways of coping; if bored, challenge that feeling and learn to deal with it; see everything as an opportunity.

As you progress through treatment you will learn to make better use of the tools at your disposal, especially your peer group. You may be challenged but you will also be supported. This may be painful but it will also be hugely rewarding. By the time you leave treatment you will have a different attitude to life – a change for the better. You may not want to repeat the experience but you will never forget it.

Treatment is the start of change but that process goes on for the rest of our lives. You are on a journey but you will never arrive at your destination. Enjoy the ride.

I volunteer at a local drug and alcohol treatment centre and the change I see in clients between admission and graduation is astonishing and so profound it’s amazing.  If you need professional help to stop there is no shame in that and could be the extra step you need to take.  Do reach out and seek help either through your local Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service or GP.

Studies showing benefits of drinking flawed, research warns

alcohol-effectsThis was in The Independent in March looking at some new research that argues that there are no health benefits to drinking and that previous study findings were flawed.

Studies which suggest that drinking alcohol moderately has health benefits are flawed, according to new research. 

Previous studies have suggested that drinking alcohol, for example a glass of wine, can cut the risk of heart disease.

However, a study reviewing 87 past research papers concluded that the idea that drinking at a reasonable level was flawed.

Canadian researchers claimed that the studies were biased, poorly designed and pointed to positive effects that were unlikely in reality.

The team behind the study published in the ‘Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs’ also highlighted concerns about groups of “abstainers” who were compared to moderate drinkers, despite giving up drinking due to ill health. 

This meant that those who were classed as drinking occasionally, at fewer than one drink per week, lived the longest.

But by taking into account study design issues, such as the abstainers, researchers found that moderate drinking had no link to longevity. 

And Dr Stockwell said he doubted that drinking infrequently was the reasons that “occasional” drinkers had lower mortality rates because the level of alcohol in their bodies was “biologically insignificant”.

“A fundamental question is, who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?” said lead author Dr Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia, Canada.

Of the 87 studies assessed, only 13 did not have an issue with the selection of abstainers. 

Therefore, alcohol should not be linked to people being healthier, said Dr Stockwell. 

The study assessed health in terms of drinking in general, rather than specific types of drink. 

Dr Stockwell said: “There’s a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that’s what you hear reported all the time, but there are many reasons to be sceptical.”

Dr Harshal Kirane, director of Addiction Services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, who was not involved with the study, told CBS News that the research “highlights the limitations of past efforts to characterize the impact of low-volume alcohol use.”

He told CBS News that authors have highlighted “pitfalls in the current literature.”

So there goes that justification then ……

Plus two new sober blogs and bloggers to support and follow lovely people 🙂

So this is Sober


Dance yourself happy: the rise of the sober rave

Morning GloryvilleNow this kind of article makes me very happy 🙂  The Guardian covered the rise of the sober rave in March and here’s what they had to say:

A drink called a summer love cup is shoved into my hand. Containing a colourful spectrum of orange, strawberry, apple, mint, lemonade and orange blossom, this sugary concoction could have been served at a school disco. In reality, I’m at something just a little more adult: a sober rave in Hackney. In recent years, these events have been cropping up around the world, from Sober Sweden in Stockholm to UK rave nights such as Awakening, We Are One, Right Here Right Now, Love is Key and perhaps the grandaddy of them all, Morning Gloryville.

With positive energy, mindfulness and wellness all buzzwords in 2016, there is a strong new-age spirituality element at these parties. But are these conscious nightclubs a nascent trend or just another fly-by-night fad?

Samantha Moyo, the “founding mother” of Morning Gloryville, began putting on these shows with a friend in May 2013. As a former hedonist, he idea came to her as a “vision of conscious clubbing”. For her, a Morning Gloryville event “bridges the gap between the spiritual getting-into-your-body feel, and a ‘let’s go out and party’ vibe”.

“I have a very famous history of being the wildest party animal ever,” Moyo says with a wry smile. “It got to a point where it was feeling unsustainable. There was no outlet or option where you could go out and dance, while not drinking alcohol or [having] any toxins around. The only things that were available were ecstatic rhythms and vibrant dance, which was great – they have more of a spiritual aspect.”

Three years on, the likes of Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx have played sets at Morning Gloryville, while Moyo oversees events taking place in 23 locations worldwide – including two in London. Without the profit from booze sales, however, they’ve had their obstacles.

“We’ve had to be creative in terms of our business and approach [to Morning Gloryville] because we want this to be something sustainable,” Moyo says. “We’re operating in an industry that is run and solely dependent on alcohol sales. This is our greatest challenge as a new economy develops.”

“We make sure that we make enough and pay everyone for their time,” Moyo says of cutting costs. “We can’t pay the DJs at their normal rates and the same goes for the dancers, performers and everyone else on our team.”

So, with the absence of inebriation, is there anything added to help sustain these sorts of events? When I arrive at Morning Gloryville on a chilly Saturday morning in West London, the concept seems surreal. By 9.30am 750 or so free spirits/paying punters of all ages have arrived to dance to DJ sets from Loose Cannons and Eddy Temple-Morris . I’m greeted with a hug from one of the “greeting angels” and as I stroll towards the dance area I notice a glitter face-painting booth. There’s also a yoga space, massage station, a superfood and smoothie bar and a coffee kiosk. As for the attendees, they’re here in different shapes and sizes. Fancy dress costumes? Yep. Exercise enthusiasts? You bet. Man on bongos? Unicorns? Check and check. If you subscribe to the bohemian, clean-living, mindfulness lifestyle, then Morning Gloryville appears to have it all under one roof.

Shaft Uddin previously worked in the world of advertising. Having left his job and sold most of his earthly possessions to form a collective called the Fabulus Unicorns, a group of people who attend these events bare-chested and with horns on their heads. “I was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and Morning Gloryville is a place where I dance myself happy,” says Uddin. “I was really depressed and it’d eat me up, asking ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ This has helped enhance my positive energy that I have as a unicorn commanding a room, helping everyone dance.”

There’s stats to back up sober clubbing’s potential longevity, too: according to the Office for National Statistics, more than one in five adults (21%) do not drink alcohol at all, based on the Adult Drinking Habits in Great Britain report released in February last year. While many get sozzled on a Saturday night on the town, increasingly more people are getting into the idea that it’s possible to have fun without the need for alcohol or drugs.

At the closing stages of the event, I’m feeling danced and hugged out. Aside from the benefits of experiencing a club environment without the lures of alcohol, the overwhelming friendliness, love and euphoria you witness is rarely shared anywhere else in the clubbing industry (Boy George, who hosted a dry club night called Godspeed said of its attendees: “You wouldn’t believe how life-affirming it is to be in a club where there is no animosity, no attitude, no arseholes”). I leave feeling fulfilled rather than beleaguered by the experience, which is the reason so many keep coming back. Well, that and the vegan chocolate ganache cake. And the unicorns.

What’s not to love? 😉

Friday Sober Jukebox – I wish I knew how it would feel to be free

Boys are back in townAnother excuse to post a picture of the lovely Phil Glenister as this track is also on the soundtrack to Life on Mars 😉  This song spun round and back into my consciousness recently and bought tears to my eyes.  Beautiful song, lyrics about being free and a reminder of the Barry Norman fronted BBC1‘s Film programme which I used to love to watch.

Why did it resonate so strongly?  Well a couple of things – I’m 2 weeks off of 1000 days which is a MASSIVE milestone and will see me stop counting days!  Plus I had a week-end recently where I felt like I had met my ghost of drinking future.  We were staying with very old friends who we used to drink with heavily.  We haven’t seen them for a couple of years because of the changes and choices we have made in our lives recently.  It was so lovely to see them but their drinking remained as before so things felt discordant between us.  We were now living completely different lives to our shared past.

I was also mindful about my co-dependent traits and people-pleasing ways and desperately wanted to fit in with them again.  That manifested in me and MrHOF having a few drags of a cigarette (which tasted vile and disproved my fear that this action would lead me back to drinking!).  Such was my need to feel okay.

I felt so sad and guilty around them – survivor’s guilt maybe?  I wanted them so much to know that I understood, that a happy life was possible without booze and that I was an ally not a threat but they were still so stuck they were beyond my reach.  In the end I couldn’t wait to leave because it just felt so uncomfortable for all of us and was making me feel very anxious.

Hence why this tune caused tears.  Tears of joy.  As Nina sings ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’ and that’s the thing, I do!  This stopping drinking thing is the most liberating thing I have ever done and that week-end was a stark reminder of where my life would have been if I had continued and where it is now having stopped.  I would not trade it for any thing or any amount of money.  It is literally PRICELESS to me and my family 🙂

Over to Nina ……

PS New Seedlip alert!


The launch of the second addition to the Seedlip range, a free spirit inspired by the English countryside:

 Seedlip Garden 108.

Boasting strong green and floral top notes, Seedlip Garden 108 is a blend of individual copper-pot distillates including traditional herbs; spearmint, rosemary & thyme as well as handpicked peas and hay from founder Ben’s family farm.
Best sipped long with bitter lemon or elderflower tonic.


Seedlip Spice 94
Seedlip Garden 108

are now available directly via their beautifully designed new website here:

Which means those outside of the UK can now order them! (with shipping costs) 😉

How British ‘cafe culture’ drinks revolution ended in failure

parisien cafe culture imageLonger licensing hours led to alcohol binges and mental health problems, say academics reports The Guardian.  We were hoping for the types of cafe culture typified by our European neighbours but this has been far from the case.

The extension of licensing hours in England and Wales has triggered a rise in binge drinking and an associated increase in mental and physical health problems, according to new research.

A study conducted by economists at Lancaster University confirms that, while the relaxation of drinking hours has had little impact on the habits of normal drinkers, it has resulted in an increase in the number of people drinking heavily.

The findings, which will were presented at the Royal Economics Society annual conference, offered a partial corrective to the hope that extended hours – ushered in by the Licensing Act of 2003 – would result in a more “continental” style of drinking culture.

The act, which allowed some venues to stay open to 5am, saw a steep rise in the number of pubs and clubs extending their hours. By 1 April 2006, 50,000 venues had been granted new licences. Four years later this had increased to nearly 79,000 – more than 60% of the 130,000 total premises licensed to sell alcohol in England and Wales.

Politicians claimed that the reforms would help alleviate problems around closing time.

“At the heart of the push for longer hours was a view that the previous standard closing hours, typically 11pm, were themselves a source of social problems,” the economists note. “These early closing hours were thought to cause excessive, concentrated drinking as individuals drank to the clock. Unified closing times also have the potential to lead to problems outside venues, such as crime and traffic fatalities.”

But instead the reforms have seen a rise in heavy drinking, which has taken its toll on the physical and mental health of drinkers. Professor Colin Green, of the university’s economics department, who led the research, said: “We demonstrate that more availability, in terms of the number of extended hours licences in an area, is associated with markedly higher levels of heavy drinking. This doesn’t necessarily need to ‘map in’ to greater alcohol-related harm if this drinking is spread out over a greater time. In subsequent analysis, however, we find that this greater drinking leads to deterioration in physical and mental health.”

The team examined data from the annual Health Survey of England and reports provided by the Health and Social Care Information Centre which enabled them to track the number of extended hours licences granted for each region.

In the survey, drinkers were questioned about the number of units they consumed on their heaviest day.

The results show that, in an average region, for every 1,000 extended licensing hours there was a very small increase in consumption – less than half a pint per person. But this figure masks the impact extended hours had on heavy drinkers.

The team found that the extended hours resulted in a 36% increase in the number of drinkers consuming 12 or more units of alcohol – about five pints of beer or five glasses of wine – on their heaviest night of drinking. And there was a 29% increase in consumption among those drinking 16 or more units.

“Given that higher levels of consumption are where alcohol harm may be concentrated, this suggests that the extension of availability led to negative health outcomes,” Green and his team note.

The economists then studied the effect of increased alcohol consumption on the health of drinkers who submitted to questionnaires asking them to detail its effects. “Again, we find that one additional unit of consumption on the heaviest night is associated with a small increase in the likelihood of reporting a physical health problem on average for the population,” the team claims.

“This again masks an increasingly large impact for heavy drinkers. For instance, the increase in the likelihood of drinking more than 12 units in a single sitting is associated with a 16-percentage point increase in the likelihood of reporting a physical health problem. We find effects of similar magnitude on the probability of reporting a mental health problem.”

Green said the findings had implications for government. “The extension of hours has the potential for acute health issues with certain subgroups. This is not to say on average everyone’s health is going to be worse, but there are definitely individuals out there who, as a result of the extension of hours, are more likely to binge drink, and this is likely to have negative health outcomes.”

And this report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies gives further colour:

Licensing Act 2003: Its uses and abuses 10 years on

This report puts forward the view that the Act has been interpreted to the advantage of the licenced trade and there is a need to address some of the myths that have developed around the Act’s use | IAS, UK

PCC calls for earlier pub closing times to combat ‘appalling’ behaviour

Pubs should be made to close earlier to reduce the strain on police and hospital workers, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said | Police Professional, UK

Have you got what it takes? Tackling alcohol misuse (PDF)

Important facts about alcohol, the Licensing Act and the Alcohol Strategy | Home Office, UK