Feeling the pinch when I raise a pint

What price football with friends? Last time I checked, it was priceless. But today, if it's World Cup football and beer, I will have to flick on the calculator because, quite honestly, it can cost you that mug-raising arm and a leg.

And to think I was just getting used to the idea of this being MY kind of year. You know, with the Budget promising to take good care of the silver-haired brigade and so on.

Alas, the spoilsports had to ruin the moment. An increase in excise duty on beer means retailers can charge us more for the froth.

My neighbourhood pub tweaked its price skywards and, to kill all hangovers, so did the kopitiam across the road.

"Can die," I heard my friends murmur.

Poor chaps. I know the feeling. That dryness in the throat. That burp that just won't come.

"Don't worry, be happy," I told them. "Just drink less and, come June, you will forget about the price of beer as we enjoy the taste of Brazeeel!"

How, in the name of barley, hops and yeast, was I to know that the telcos would mess with our heads - and, in the process, hurt us where it hurts most - in the pocket.

That they did last Wednesday, when they made it known to die-hard football uncles in Singapore that, on top of having to pay more for beer, they also have to cough up a princely sum just to watch the World Cup.

It was like being kicked in the, well, nether region ­- with steel-tipped boots. It pained us no end.

Then we heard that we're paying top dollar for the "show".

Much more than fans in Britain, China and Australia. Those hit hardest are regular blokes - retirees, pioneers, your favourite uncle - who looked forward to the World Cup the way their kids and grandchildren looked forward to the June holidays.

As least the young ones will still get to do whatever today's kids do.

Not so my drinking buddies.

Sure, those with loose change stashed away in some Milo tin will cough up the cash for a live feed. I'm ashamed to admit I will be caving in.

I will cut back on the booze, but I will pay the ransom just so I will be able to enjoy taking in the exploits of Neymar, Ronaldo, Rooney and van Persie.

But it still sucks. It really does. Where's the goodwill?

CONSOLATION

One great consolation is the timing of the matches. Unless you are one of those who can keep your eyes open at some God-forsaken hour of the morning, you won't miss out on the frothy stuff.

After all, most matches will be played outside of "Happy Hour". More like "sup kambing" supper time. Yes, at around midnight, with some kicking off at prata hour - 5am.

Still, and since most of us enjoy toasting goals with grog, no matter what the time, come June, we will surely feel the pinch when we sit down for that beer, be it in that swanky lounge, the neighbourhood pub or the humble coffee shop.

Indeed, and because of the price hike in beer prices, I see that nightly tipple becoming a trickle.

And the timing couldn't have been worse - what with the news that we will have to dig deep just to enjoy this once-every-four-years festival of football.

My friends say it is a double whammy. Not fair.

I am with them, 100 per cent. I would drink to it but, frankly, I can't afford it.


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