For The Love of God, Don't Ban Booze On Trains


Written by Jack Blocker
23 Monday 23rd February 2015

There's a four pack of beer available at Marks & Spencer with the pleasingly simple name, 'French Lager'. The label features the silhouette of an eagle descending to capture its prey, and there's a small detail of barley contained within the bird's tail. When you crack open a can, it tastes as a French lager should - refreshing, crisp, with a perfect hint of the continental richness overplayed in a beer like Kronenbourg.

Best of all, it costs £3.85 for the pack of four, meaning you can get battered and undermine perceptions of M&S being overpriced in one go. It's important to some.

Lager 4 the lads on a train

How do I know so much about this fairly innocuous own brand beer? Because every station has one of those M&S Simply Foods, meaning I always buy it when I have a train journey that lasts over half an hour or crosses into another county. Without fail. After repeating this practice for many years, drinking it at home gives me an almost Proustian pleasure: An evocation of trips around Britain; weekends away; cheap nights in provincial towns. Trips to Norwich, to Brighton, to Cardiff, and to a lesser extent, away days in Bognor Regis. You can keep the rare red you acquired on your trip to Bordeaux, I'll pound French Lagers as I reminisce about drunken jaunts across this beguiling isle.

Opting for Kronies with the lady (obscured for legal reasons)

My fondness for this beer and these journeys is easily explained. Is there anything better than getting drunk on a train? The pleasure of knowing you're venturing beyond the three places you always go is a joy in itself. Getting a buzz on top of it is like pulling a grand caper. Paying £3.85 for the pleasure feels like a brief high. Knowing that no one would bat an accusing eye-lid if you were drinking by yourself - because you're on a train, and it's a fine accident that allowed our society to give a thumbs up to solo sessions on the rails - is a fucking miracle.

Smashing a cheeky French Lager X sitting on the floor before an exciting trip from Kings Cross

In short, it's a small pleasure in a time when small pleasures seem altogether less attainable. Sadly, this joy could be taken from us soon. The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) is reportedly calling for an alcohol ban on our nation's trains. I'm unfamiliar with the RSSB, but they're conjuring up images of pencil-pushing jobsworths expediting our descent into a nanny state. When you start using those sorts of phrases, you're no better than Richard Littlejohn. But they're all I can come up with to describe this mess.

Turning into a right-wing blowhard is bad enough. But doing so without drunken train journeys is even worse.

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