A few thoughts on a pint costing £13.40, cars without drivers and driverless governments…

IT’S early Saturday morning and thoughts about thoughts are bumping around in my mind, like balloons on a ceiling.

Thoughts about thoughts aren’t, well, thoughts exactly, but they’ll have to do. I have just read that a pub in Borough Market charges £13.40 for a pint of beer. That’s not so much a thought as a liquid scandal, but that’s London for you.

Funnily enough, the offensively expensive pint comes from Manchester, where it surely won’t cost quite that much. Perhaps it’s a Mancunian joke at the expense of Londoners. Cloudwater North West Double IPA is a weighty 8.2% ABV. I may be wrong but think those letters stand for “absolutely bloody vulgar”. A glance at an online slang Thesaurus leads me to conclude that such a pint is fancy-pants spendy.

The owners of the Rake bar blame the suppliers, but point out that the beer sells out whenever they stock it. Perhaps you can just charge anything in London. Or maybe the more expensive something is, the greater its allure. When the Sun newspaper sent a reporter to try a pint, there was none left to sup.

I can’t see many Yorkshire drinkers handing over quite so much for a pint. If you don’t live in London, and chances are that you won’t, my recommendation is for a limited-edition beer that is 2% weaker than that London disgrace. High Tea by Roosters is a Jasmine green tea IPA made in collaboration with coffee and tea suppliers Taylors of Harrogate. I know – sounds like a ponce beer, but it was lovely and for a short while sent my brain to a pleasantly unsteady place.

I forget the price in York for a pint of that and a smaller glass of something less brain bewildering for my wife, but it didn’t amount to even half the cost of that London pint.

Here’s another thought bouncing off a thought. Driverless cars are in the news often nowadays, nudging us into the future. An item on the BBC news yesterday asked who will be to blame when driverless cars crash. Is it the driver or the computer? Here’s another thing: will you be allowed to be drunk in charge of a driverless car? Not that I want to be or anything, but it’s a question. If so, the phrase ‘driving me to drink’ might take on a whole new meaning.

Here’s another mental pause: will you need a driving licence or take a test? Anyone who has spent a lifetime manually driving themselves around is going to be lost in this brave new world. That’s if it ever happens.

The driverless cars were forming an orderly queue in the headlines alongside driverless lorries. The trucks aren’t entirely without drivers, but travel in convoy with only the first lorry having a human occupant. The others are linked by wi-fi or something. When I read about this experiment, I thought of our wavering wi-fi at home and began to worry. What is the driverless truck version of that spinning circle you get when the TV freezes? It’s not a comforting thought.

Driverless vehicles suggest other unpiloted things, such as Mrs Maybe’s government on its plotless skid towards that big wall marked Brexit. Do driverless governments have brakes and does anyone know now to use them?

I love it that the UK has been accused by the European Union of “magical thinking” over plans to create an invisible border in Ireland after Brexit. The EU seems to have its finger on where we are driving ourselves, even if we don’t. Magical thinking is not confined to the border between North and South in Ireland – it basically sums up the government’s whole approach to leaving Europe. Magical thinking and crossed fingers.

And here’s a thought to end these thoughts – if a driverless government crashes in the wall of calamity, who’s to blame? Who you gonna call, as that Ghostbusters film once said? And whose ghost will need busting when it all comes down on our heads?

Is it time for a beer? Ah, no – it’s 7.50am, I’ve not yet had breakfast and work starts in two-and-half hours. See you later.

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