The Tramlines Festival enjoyed its 7th weekend this year, with acts from all over the world finding their way to venues as varied as the Queens Social Club to the Millennium Gallery and even the threat of seeing WU-Tang Clan in Ponderosa Park, we all new they would bottle it! Even so, for me seeing The Charlatans in sheffield again after seeing them at the Octagon whilst still at school was pretty cool, I often wonder if I hadn't seen them at that time how I might have turned out differently, I’d probably have done better in the english exam I had the next morning.
The 2015 Tramlines was bigger and better in so many ways than previous years. Of course, ‘its not what it used to be’, people will always complain about it becoming too commercial or too expensive, but to put on a 3 day festival in and around the centre of a major city is something Sheffield should be very proud of and something that was an excellent community event.
It did raise a few questions about social norms, I mean none of us would like to think of ourselves as anti-social or a menace. But I saw more street drinking and rowdy behaviour in the 3 days than I have seen all year previously-granted I don’t get out much, but I do live in the city centre. I didn't see any violence or much in the way of anything that you see as dangerous or a threat to my or my parties safety, but I can remember saying on more than one occasion “i’m glad we don’t live there…” as we left venues that were in more residential areas, and as calm as we all were just the number of intoxicated people walking up a residential street made for quite a spectacle and on another day would maybe have seen a different reaction from residents and authorities alike.
It got me thinking about something that has troubled me for years, and something that came up again when at work the other day. It did feel like the wristband not only gave you access to some fantastic entertainment and the opportunity to find new bands and genres of music that you may not normally come into contact with, but also the ‘right’ and ‘permission’ to drink in the street and be a little less well behaved than usual. Just to be clear, this is not a dig at the organisers that I thought all considered put on an excellent event and the ‘Conditions of Entry’ to venues along with the role that stewards played when people were leaving meant that this was policed as well as any event of its kind I've ever attended. However, to quote Jurassic Park… ‘life will find a way’, and lets face it, its no big deal to have a quick can between venues, right? Especially if you've paid for the privilege. I mean its your weekend, you've earned it- your a tax payer!
Im not sure, the government guidelines on alcohol consumption is 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women daily, it doesn't mention if wearing a wristband makes any difference. According to the Alcohol Concern website ‘Only people over 18 can drink in public, except in areas of towns where Designated Public Place Orders (DPPOs) (1) are in place. DPPOs give police officers special powers to order a person to stop drinking alcohol in public and confiscate it from them. Even outside of these areas, the police can take away alcohol or move on under 18s if they have been drinking. The police can also fine or arrest under 18s drinking in public places (2).’ again no mention of wristbands. In the 1976–77 season, Abdul-Jabbar had another strong season. He led the league in field goal percentage, finished second in rebounds and blocked shots, and third in points per game. He helped lead the Lakers to the best record in the NBA, and he won his record-tying fifth MVP award. Again no mention of wristbands, but I know he wore them all the time, did he drink in the street as well? I only know that he wore wristbands because as a youngster I was pretty good at basketball and had posters and films about the sport and my hero’s who played it, I also remember seeing the parades of when the teams won the championships, going out into the street, celebrating with the fans and getting very merry on the finest champagne (the sponsors) money can buy. The other thing I remember about the sport at that time was the money involved, I can remember once seeing an article about the fact that a small number of top NBA players paid more in tax one year than Premier League players earned that same season. All disgusting, however the point is, he paid tax, he’d earned it-so whats the big deal?
So the issue is probably not wristbands, its tax? If you pay it, you should be allowed to reap the rewards, right? Beer duty in the uk currently sits at 8.1p per litre for each percentage of alcohol, for drinks up to 2.8% abv. That rises to 18.37p for up to 7.5% and 23.85p for more than 7.5%. The stronger the beer, the more duty you pay. Add to that VAT and there is quite a lot of tax on having a bevy or two.
It does make me think again these days, when people complain about street drinkers on a daily basis, the argument that it is illegal is nonsense, we have already learnt that wristbands have very little to do with it, and it now looks like the tax issue is rubbish as well, It appears to me that as street drinkers in sheffield pay more tax when drinking in the street than millionaire sports stars and Tramlines revellers, so do they not have more of a right to do it than us?
Ok, this is not supposed to be a compelling and conclusive argument, just something to get the conversation next time your in the local with your mates, and one of them gets a bit smug and starts thinking that they are in some way different or better than other people. We are all human, all silly and daft at times, all angry and sad sometimes and all capable of love and humour sometimes. Maybe next time your avoiding speaking to someone asking for help you could consider that?