Wednesday, 10 August 2011

OK! I Surrender

At the age of 63 and a life long non-smoker, I have finally given in to the welter of government and health pressure group hectoring and I have finally taken up smoking.

The build up has been a long time coming with many stages, but the final straw came tonight with the local news saying that the local authority in Cumbria was going to ban smoking in public parks.

Let’s face it, Cumbria isn’t anything other than a public park is it? A county that depends entirely on tourism wants to tell visitors that they cannot have a fag in the big open spaces of the lake district. Brilliant. Of course it is all dressed up as a campaign to make it socially unacceptable to smoke in the presence of children, but the objective is abundantly clear. The aim is to stop anybody smoking anywhere.

Prohibition of alcohol failed catastrophically in the United States. When alcohol was prohibited in 1919 it immediately resulted in illegal brewing and distilling being taken over by organised crime and the law had to be abandoned in 1933. The crime syndicates born out of the ban on alcohol did not die with abandonment of prohibition, they just moved on to protection, prostitution and drugs.

The hair shirt fanatics in the UK have learned lessons from history. Instead of trying to get an absolute ban in a single law they have sought to make smoking and drinking gradually more expensive and difficult over a period of time. This has now got to the position where we are being told that we cannot smoke in the open air of the wide open spaces of the lakes and fells.

Never being a person to do anything by halves, on hearing the news of the proposed new smoking restriction I set out for the nearest tobacco retailer and bought a pack of cigars. Knowing nothing about them I bought the largest and most expensive ones on the basis that they would be most likely to be particularly offensive to the antis.

Such has been my dislike of smoking that in my student years I used to take my cannabis in cakes or by chewing resin rather than puffing on a joint. Well, I am a lot older now and I have sucked on a few spliffs in the intervening years so I thought it would be OK to join the dwindling ranks of the smokers.

I settled in to the front terrace of a nice wine bar with a large glass of red, assured myself that the ash trays were an indicator that smoking was permissible and guiltily lit up. It is utterly absurd for a man in his 60′s, but I felt really naughty lighting up this cigar in a public place. I think that my wife was rather pleased that I was showing some signs of being a normal human being, but I am not sure that she is the best person to judge.

Anyway, I rather enjoyed it. I am now going to sample some different brands and take my new habit to other parts of town. I may even go to Stony Stratford to ostentatiously smoke in their streets. I doubt whether I will ever take cigar use to the levels enjoyed by Bill Clinton, but thanks to the nanny state I am looking forward to a new area of enjoyment in my retirement.

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