Management consultant Jackie Slater is over fifty and wanted to buy two bottles of wine when she was stopped at a store counter in England. The Morrisons clerk told her that she could not purchase wine because she was accompanied by her 17-year-old daughter Emily. In a London library, Lorna Watts, 26, asked to borrow some scissors and was refused by a librarian who explained that she “might stab a member of staff”. These are stories from what many of our English cousins are calling the evolution of a “nanny state” where the government and companies dictate an ever-widening range of rules for citizens who are treated as little more than errant children.
In Slater’s case, the clerk explained that, if she had been alone, she would not have been stopped. Moreover, if her daughter was a bit younger, the store probably would not have objected. But the store now requires everyone “of a certain age” to produce identification. The store management stands behind the ridiculous rule, stating “[u]nder current licensing laws, stores are unable to sell an alcoholic product to a customer they believe could be buying for a minor or for someone who is unable to prove their age.”
It is a uniquely moronic policy since anyone who is buying booze for minors would be unlikely to walk in with them. It also creates this vague standard where clerk decided whether a child is sufficiently young so as not to be a concern. The store admits that, if Emily were twelve, they would not have objected because “no one would buy wine for a 12-year-old”.
However, being twelve may not be enough to allow a parent out of a store. A week earlier, Gill Power was stopped at an Asda store because her twelve-year-old son was carrying a bag with a bottle of wine in it. The store took back the wine and said that a twelve-year-old could not carry alcohol even in a shopping bag. It is not clear if he can ride in a car containing such a bottle. While Asda stated later that it will allow kids to carry groceries, this nanny problem appears to go beyond weekend shopping.
Lorna Watts, 26, is a self-employed dressmaker who asked to borrow some scissors at the Holborn Library in central London. She was refused on the basis that she “might stab a member of staff.” Notably, there was no apparent concern over a crazed dressmaker stabbing patrons, just staff.
When Watts pressed the point, she was told “they are sharp, you might stab me.” Now here is the kicker. Watts then visited three other libraries and was refused at each one on the basis of a policy not to lend “sharp implements.” Rather than proceed to beat a clerk to death with a heavy leather-bound book, Watts went to the media.
This cannot be the same people who produced Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill. Benny Hill, yes, but not Winston Churchill.
For the scissor story, click here.
For the wine story, click here.