AL Murray’s comedy creation, the Pub Landlord, starts his shows by insisting that it’s ‘a pint for the gentleman, glass of white wine or fruit-based beverage for the lady. Those are the rules.’ He then asks the audience where we would be if we didn’t have rules, to which they reply (quite rightly) ‘France’; and if we had too many rules? ‘Germany!’ Before some readers get in a lather, accusing me of peddling outmoded nationalistic stereotypes or a pro-Brexit (ooh, my spellchecker doesn’t like that word – I’d better get Nigel Farage on the case) agenda, let me please reassure you that I, like most rational people, see that as just a bit of banter. It follows in the traditions of Dad’s Army and ‘Allo ‘Allo!, and it’s a damn sight better that we have a few chuckles about our perceived quirks rather than all-out war.

As well as mocking our chums on the European mainland, cricket fan (proof that he’s a good egg) Murray is also highlighting our own national obsession with rules and what we perceive as fair play. We hate it when people are seen to be flouting the laws of the land with impunity, as when a group of travellers was accused last week of trashing Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn, causing an estimated £100k of damage. There was an “aggressive stand-off” after which Lancashire Police negotiated with the travellers to encourage them to move on and after “co-operation from those on site”, the travellers moved off. No arrests were made. Now, I appreciate that there are two sides to every story but, from what I’ve read, it doesn’t seem very fair.

Then people complain when there are too many rules and regulations. It smacks of a nanny state and undermines, so they claim, their basic liberties. Many objected when Barbara Castle, one of the more effective Labour politicians of the post-Attlee era, introduced seatbelts and breathalysers; but how many lives have these changes saved? Of course, nobody knows, but I’d bet my bottom dollar it’s plenty of thousands. And it’s only a few of self-proclaimed libertarians who object to these laws now; most of us accept them as a positive.

Health and safety often gets a bad press too but surely those concepts are better than their logical opposite – sickness and danger? Like many, I could do with losing a fair bit of weight but a gutful of campylobacter, salmonella or Escherichia coli is not the best way to achieve that. Have you seen the footage of John Noakes climbing Nelson’s Column that’s been doing the rounds on the Internet recently? He’s climbing up it, in flares, no safety harness on a rickety old collection of ladders that has to be seen to be believed. Sure, it makes for great telly but it’s good that we’ve moved on.

In an ideal world, we would be an anarchic society, in its true sense of an absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual. But that would rely on everyone doing what is ‘right’ and following the ‘rules’; all too many appear unable – or unwilling – to do that.

I guess we have been a little anarchic at Devizes Beer Festival. We turned a blind eye to a few people bringing their own alcohol, so long as they were discreet and didn’t make a nuisance of themselves. It worked for a few years but then more and more people took diabolical liberties. Picnic tables bearing more bottles of wine than beer that had been bought at the festival, people swigging from bottles of spirits, others turning up with slabs of generic Eurofizz. Well, enough is enough.

This year no one will be allowed to bring their own alcohol onto the site. If they do manage to do it, they will have to leave. No exceptions.

As Al Murray says, those are the rules. Spread the word.