Monday, April 03, 2006

Goodnight from Sydney

Tonight's photo: A highway between the Royal Botanical Gardens on the left, and The Domain and State Library, on the right. In the background are the historic areas of Woolloomooloo and Kings Cross

Can you tell the difference between milk-based alcoholic drinks and milkshakes? If you can, then that's a lot more than Australian teenagers are able to do.

A recent study by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, reveals that most teenagers cannot distinguish between the two.

Lead author of the report, Jan Copeland, said "We were particularly concerned with the under-16s - they rated the Vodka Mudshake the same as chocolate milk".

The study involving 350 people aged 12 to 30 also found the ready-to-drink or pre-mixed alcoholic drinks were the most common first drink for teenagers.

Whatever happened to Worthington E and Babycham!

I should point out participants were only allowed to smell and taste the drinks, not swallow them.

The survey also found that Fifty-six per cent of 12- to 13-year-olds and 73 per cent of 14- to 15-year-olds felt the pre-mixed Bacardi Breezer drinks were marketed to them.

Of course, this has sparked calls for a ban on milk-based alcoholic drinks and a rethink on pre-mixing vodka with soft drink. Some milk based drinks have already been banned. Moo Joose, a milk drink with an alcohol content of 5.3 per cent, was banned in New South Wales in 2003 because of concerns that it was aimed at young people. With a name like that, it would hardly be targeting the old money brigade would it!

In Britain, Mudshake-branded condoms were banned last year because they "directly associated the alcoholic drinks with sexual success".

Which in a round about way, brings me to a story of my schooldays.

I was 15 and on a School trip to Worcester to see Worcester Cathedral. We were allowed to wear casual clothes and have free time to ourselves. In other words, the teachers wanted to go to the pub. While the other kids explored the town (which is a diplomatic way of saying they ran amok) I invited Cathy Davies for a three course Chinese lunchtime special.

Of course I wanted to impress Cathy, though for the life of me I can't now remember why. After we had ordered the meal, I asked to see the wine waiter - like they do on the telly:).

"Sorry, we do not have a wine waiter. What would you like to drink?"

Trying to look and sound 18, I nonchalantly replied,

"A half bottle of house white"

The waiter shook his head.

"Sorry, we only have carafes"

Not to be deterred, I looked him in they eye and confidently told him...

"OK, I'll have half a bottle of that"!

Poor Cathy didn't have much luck with boys. The following year I discovered my friend Nigel, "fancied" her. Nigel however, was shy. If he were in an American kiddies movie, he would be the one in the grey V neck sweater, and glasses with sticking plaster on the arms.

Nigel liked soccer and so did Cathy. I suggested he ask her to see Cardiff City play the following Saturday. He thought this was a great idea and Cathy agreed. So far so good.

Nigel had a season ticket with a reserved seat, Cathy of course did not.

The two young lovers watched the match with Nigel in Block B and Cathy in Block D!

Wherever you may be - be safe!