Too long in the tooth

I stand condemned by my own memory.  I have just spent 15 minutes searching through all my applications for the blogging software I use—I could not remember what it was called.  So I have obviously been away from blogging too long.  For reference, it was called Qumana, and there was a very good reason I couldn’t find it—I decided, many moons ago, to uninstall it in favour of ScribeFire.

But why the mention of teeth?  Well, I have now lived half of my allotted threescore years and ten.  My legs are grey.  My ears are gnarled.  My eyes are old and bent.  So you will empathise with my utter embogglement when I say that I was asked for proof of age just yesterday when I tried to buy some wine.  I have not been asked for proof of age for seventeen years.

I went back with my driving licence, though I bitterly resented having to show it.  This feels like the thin end of the identity card wedge.  I thought that there were proof of age cards available that didn’t serve as identity cards, but a cursory search online revealed none.  After all, why would we have such a thing?  The alleged clamp-down on under-age drinking serves no real purpose in the public interest.  Children who are determined to drink will continue to obtain alcohol, just as easily as they obtain illegal drugs.  The identity card that is supposed to prove your age will also prove your name, your exact date of birth, and probably your address.

In case you remain unconvinced of the lunacy of this situation, consider the following actual proofs of age: my wedding band that has formed a groove in my burgeoning ring finger over five years of marriage; my wife by my side; my company ID card; my two credit cards; my thinning hair; my greying stubble; and my three wisdom teeth.  Apart from the teeth, all of these were available for inspection, but the shop assistant would not accept any of these as proof of age.  She had already been brainwashed into an unthinking automaton in this increasingly Orwellian society.


  1. Gareth said

    A really good point, I’d never considered proof of age generally requiring you to reveal all sorts of other information. What about a card that reveals nothing externally but stick it in a machine and it allows you to share a specific bit of information with whoever is asking, only if you want to. Or are we just worrying too much?

    • Joe said

      Interesting idea, Gareth! How would you sell it to shops that already grab customer information whenever they can (loyalty card, payment card tracking, etc.)? It seems like quite a hard sell—“Buy my machine to help your customers maintain their privacy.”

      As for worrying too much, let me refer you to Joseph Heller:
      “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

  2. Alasdair said

    You make an interesting point. In this case a proof of age card just needs a photo and your date of birth, the proof of age card I have also has my name, which is unnecessary.

    On the other hand having worked selling alcohol I found it, at times, hard to determine some peoples age. People are then upset when you ask for proof of age. Also because the law holds the person who sold the alcohol legally culpable. The result of this is you either card everyone, at which point no one can get upset because it is fair, or you get shouted at when you card one or two people you think are too young.


  3. Joe said

    It must be the vegan diet that has restored my youth so comprehensively that I look like a child (with grey hair).

    The shop assistant actually suggested I try another shop up the road. So somehow it’s ok for someone in another shop to re-assess my age, but her manager—his barely concealed grin showed that he didn’t think I looked under-age—could not simply bring some common sense to bear.

    I can see that the law places pressure on shop assistants to be sure they do not sell alcohol to children. But what makes them suspend their common sense and their critical faculties?

  4. armandine2 said

    I still remember though more than 17 years ago, going into my nat west bank and being told that I hadn’t given them the correct date of birth when challenged to confirm my identity by this manner. I responded that I very well new my own birthday. As all selfish children do of course. And stared down an otherwise intimidating bank clerk. When challenged for proof of age in the states, I was then 21, I showed my passport which the bartender scrutinised and decided to give me, reluctantly, the benefit of the doubt over whether it said Mar…or May. Since it was only a small budweiser I left him to drink it.

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