A pint with Mr Orwell*

By God – the TV is working this morning, so for the first time in ages I got to see the BBC Breakfast News. I’ve tried other alternatives while our SKY Box has been playing up, but they’ve all been... well, let’s just say that I’ve tried them, OK? No point in hurting people’s feelings for the sake of it.

There was a story today about how five pubs and clubs in Yeovil, Summerset are installing fingerprint scanners. You turn up for a pint, you get your fingerprint scanned, you get your photo taken, then some personal details, and in you go. Unless you’re on the club’s ‘naughty people’ list. Then you get a swift kicking round the back of the bins**.

This will make drinking a safer thing, says the spokesperson on the news this morning. Well, maybe... OK I can see that it’s a good thing to exclude known troublemakers from pubs and clubs – leaving aside the whole they’ll just go to an off-licence and get bladdered on cheap, extra strong lager then go make trouble in the streets debate – but is Yeovil such a bustling metropolis that it’s got too many drunken arseholes for the bouncers to recognise by sight? And do we really need to go for a pint with Big Brother in tow the whole time?

Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m a privacy nut.

What’s next – supermarket fingerprinting? Biometric scans every time you go to the toilet?

Mind you, this could all become a moot point soon. Today the government tries to push through the whole ID card thing. Which I’m not looking forward to either. When I did the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year someone in the audience stood up and asked, “Would having ID cards have made it easier for the police to catch the killer in your book?” He was a bit tweedy-looking, but he bought a copy afterwards, so he must have been all right. My response: “Only if he’d dropped it at the scene.” I can’t really buy into the whole ‘it’ll prevent terrorism’ argument either. What, you’re going to issue someone with a ‘dodgy terrorist bastard’ card? If they’re that dodgy, arrest the fucker. Do something about it. Don’t sod about.

And I have to laugh when the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke stands up and with a straight face tells us that the computer system and these cards are going to be 100% secure... Ahem... Now I might be generalising a bit here, but in my humble recollection every computer system developed by this and every other UK government*** has been a complete and utter disaster. How long do we really think it’s going to take for someone to hack their way round this 100% security? Couple of weeks, a month?

Mind you, maybe it’s just me. Perhaps this marks the dawning of a new utopia. But somehow I bloody doubt it.

* In which your humble bearded narrator gets all political on your ass...
** Which is a very sore place to get kicked.
*** Yup, I’m not partisan for any party; I think they’re all a bunch of self-serving, amoral, sleazy bastards.