It’s bad news for the drinks industry but it’s mainly bad news for people who think each generation is more feckless than the last: the number of drinkers among 16- to 24-year-olds has dropped sharply.
All kinds of drinkers are dying out: the steady drinkers – the binge drinkers – the drinkers-in-training – the social drinkers the bus stop drinkers – the lot.
In a study by the ONS less than half of young people reported drinking anything at all in the previous week compared with two-thirds of 45- to 64-year-olds – many of whom are in all likelihood under medical advice to please cut it out or at least do the nation the favour of lying about it in surveys.
Various theories are floated: changes in religion and ethnicity – changes wrought by social media – student loans – which we’ll return to.
But a report compiled by the Demos thinktank last year found health to be the most common reason given for this abstemiousness.
Health has got to them all – like a cult: they are also less likely to smoke and the evidence of our own five senses gives us young people in hordes – jogging – climbing – journeying eternally from one institution of wellness to another – serious-faced in Lycra – taking responsibility – counting footsteps – living the dream.
They must look at previous generations – the lad and ladette (read ‘beer’) culture of the 90s and wonder who on earth we thought we were.
There’s plenty to apologise for about the fin de siècle and it can’t all be blamed on Tony Blair whatever his biographers tell you.
It was the end of ideology – the decade sincerity died.
Feminists went underground – too postmodern (also in fairness too drunk) to explain that just because Margaret Thatcher was a woman it didn’t mean she was a passionate advocate of gender equality and ‘girl power’ was a poor substitute for female emancipation.
The legions of the ‘post-ironic’ never had to account for their vapid agenda or explain the meaning of the term since it would have been deeply passé to expect one.
I say ‘their’; I mean ‘our’: there must have been postmodernism refuseniks but I wasn’t one of them.
It was a creed of puckish underachievement – personal debt – slacking and loafing – with authenticity rejected in favour of acerbic cynicism.
The epic hangovers of its breakfast show DJs made national news..