Back in the olden days, the Salvation Army – and other temperance campaigners – used to frequent public houses and music halls, trying to tempt imbibers away from over-indulging in the demon drink. Temperance advocates even wrote alternative popular songs as part of these campaigns, such as Sell No More Drink to My Father and Lips That Touch Liquor Will Never Touch Mine. With their jolly marching bands, the Sally Army’s idea was to advertise a better alternative to getting sozzled.

Perhaps the latter-day temperance crusaders should now bring their endeavours not to pubs – which are closing down at a rate of knots – but to airports, where arrests for drunkenness have increased by 50 per cent over the past year.

Airline passengers are getting legless, getting into fights, being chucked off planes, assaulting the airline staff and generally behaving in a lewd and abusive manner. Last year 18 separate police forces had to make arrests of various sloshed members of the public at airports throughout Britain.

And although I don’t drink alcohol myself these days, I have some sympathy for the flying public resorting to strong liquor. Airports today are among the most unfriendly and uncomfortable environments in which to dally.

There is seldom anywhere comfortable to sit down. Actually, they don’t want you to sit down – they want you to move around, spending money. There is nowhere quiet and comfortable in which to repose – unless you pay 20 or 30 quid for a first-class lounge. You have to queue for everything.

I suggest that air passengers are sometimes driven to drink by the inhospitable conditions of a modern airport.

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