Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 23/9/2005I've had second thoughts about the Don't Get Shot In London kit I described yesterday, following a trip home last night on the midnight Piccadilly Line. I wore the hat, which appeared to work, but as encouraged by my betters I kept my eyes open at all times and closely scrutinised my fellow travellers and the general surroundings.

Friday 23/9/2005

I've had second thoughts about the Don't Get Shot In London kit I described yesterday, following a trip home last night on the midnight Piccadilly Line. I wore the hat, which appeared to work, but as encouraged by my betters I kept my eyes open at all times and closely scrutinised my fellow travellers and the general surroundings. Although there were any number of people exhibiting inappropriate jacketry, openly reading papers and even fiddling with their phones, I felt curiously certain that they weren't suicide bombers. I could know this because of one factor: they were steaming drunk. Yes, that Blairite bogey monster of the Binge Drinker strode among us — well, staggered, slumped and simpered. Oddly absent from the picture was violence or other gross misbehaviour, but then it was a good North London middle class mix. Couldn't be that binge drinking is shorthand for scary working class youth, could it?

Anyway, without seeking to perpetrate stereotypes it is clearly the case that the sort of people who decide to blow themselves up on public transport are not the kind who like their pint — or if they do, not the sort to give in to that temptation. While it can certainly be argued that there were many among the IRA who did enjoy the odd jar, they tended to consider it a good idea not to be strapped to the bomb when it went off — a far saner and more sporting idea. They certainly didn't get tanked up before going on a job: effective terrorism requires discipline. And suicide bombers absolutely cannot risk the loss of coordination or the chance of drunken changes of heart.

And so I have the answer. We don't need bomb scanners and intrusive policing to protect us on the Underground: we merely need to make sure that everyone who travels is pig-whimperingly plastered at all times. Breathalysers connected to the automatic gates should ensure this, together with platform-level whisky dispensers for those who find themselves coming out of the safety zone. Those who seem to act with sobriety will be given the choice of knocking back three treble vodkas and sent on their way, or being hauled off for a quick David.

This will of course mean sacrifice, not least on a Monday morning at 7am when we prepare for our morning commute. It's surprisingly hard work to get properly pished in ten minutes over breakfast. It may be easier for all London to be totally drunk at all times — not for the first time in our history, fellow citizens, and not for the last: in fact, we live in curiously abstemious times, no matter what the politicians say.

It may be a very great thing to ask of ourselves.

But what price freedom?