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Home > Culture and Society

Last night a beermat saved my life

28 December 2003

'The [Home Office's] Good2BeSecure campaign, fronted by David Dickinson, whose BBC One show Bargain Hunt has become a cult hit among the young, offers students "top tips" on how to protect their property from burglars. Beer-mats have been distributed to student pubs around the country, warning: "Don't let them bag your booty! Nearly half of all burglaries are through an open door or window."' - BBCi

We can't say we've seen the beermats in question, but the information that burglars can get in through open doors and windows comes as something of a shock. [NOTE TO SELVES: Stop leaving house without closing doors and windows.]

However, according to the BBC, there have actually been quite a few beermat campaigns. These include:

- One by East Northamptonshire Council to try to make people more interested in local elections. Slogan: ‘XXXX - it's not a dirty word. Vote 1st May 2003.'

- Another by the 'health promotion division' of some local government department in Wales promoting safe sex. Slogan: ‘Protect your prop forward!' with a picture of a man in his underpants holding a condom.

- One by Macmillan Cancer Relief, aimed at informing people of the symptoms of lung cancer, featuring shots of a man's chest and a woman's cleavage, with the slogan: ‘CHECK 'EM OUT‘.


There's something breathtakingly awful about these feeble efforts at informing the dreaded Young People. In no particular order:

1) The message they're putting across tends to be blindingly obvious, eg. make sure your home is reasonably secure, voting is a good thing to do, wear a condom, smoking gives you cancer. Perhaps we need beermats saying things like:

- Stop pushing broken glass up your arse!

- Don‘t lick high voltage cables!

- don't have children with your sister!

2) The naff, lad-and-ladette yewth-speak created by some middle-class advertising wanker in Soho. It's exactly the same patronising crap so ably parodied by the Day Today, when Steve Coogan, as Alan Partridge, tried to encourage road safety with an endless array of photos of car accidents, asking ‘Is this cool? Is THIS cool? IS THIS COOL?...'

3) The fact that town hall apparatchiks and their equivalents in charities really believe they can change people's behaviour with beermat campaigns. Not shutting your doors and windows when you go out is just moronic, but the reason people don't wear condoms, and don't think they'll ever get cancer, or don't vote, is because this is what they choose (not) to. They may not be right to do this, but it's going to take more than a beermat to make an 18-year-old who's out on the razz take an interest in local government or stop the spread of AIDS.

N.B: David Dickinson was jailed in the 1960s for fraud.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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