The last few elections here, the one for Holyrood and the one to send a trougher to the EU, came with voting slips that looked like ancient Roman scrolls. They were huge, and listed all kinds of strange and wonderful options. That EU one, especially, was just mad.
So where are they all now?
My choice for this general election is as follows:
That's it. No independents. No UKIP. There is only one party in there that does not actively despise me simply because I smoke. I cannot campaign for the BNP, I just can't. Yet I cannot support any party that has stated it hates me, and all the rest have made that very clear.
Perhaps I should have thrown my hat in the ring after all. It's a heavy hat and it might have taken down a candidate or two on the way.
The BNP won't win here because there is a general perception that they are an essentially English party and this lot won't vote English. For much the same reason, the Tory candidate is not likely to win. Which is a pity because, via Longrider, I see they might not be a bad option after all. They won't let me have a pub or a club to smoke in but they will make a start on rolling back Labour's Stasi state so there is hope that they might, one day, see sense.
The Greens will still make me smoke outside with one difference. The pub won't be allowed to provide any form of outside heating. The Greens will make things much worse so they can forget it.
Labour... never in a million years. Not going to happen. I would have to cut off my own hand afterwards.
The realistic battle here is between SNP and Lib Dem. It wasn't always so, but this year it certainly looks that way. I don't want either of them to win but can't stop it. The lesser evil is SNP because they will at least support the disposal of ID cards and databases. Yet they hate me, and have put 'no smoking' signs even in one-panel bus shelters in the middle of nowhere. Yes, even though you can't see a house from some of those bus stops and they are open to the elements and the dual-carriageway traffic fumes on three sides, you have to stand out in the rain to smoke. How can I possibly vote for more of that? Then there is their war on drink and their dictation on diet. I don't think I can do it.
Maybe I'll put an X in every box except Labour's. A small message, but it would at least amuse me. I can't just not vote. I'll have to do something.
So, I'll have to look at individual candidates. On party policies, the only option for a smoker here is the BNP and as I said, they won't win here. I know, there are those who say the smoking ban is not an issue and I should concern myself with bigger things - but that ban is most certainly an issue. For a great many people. Real, live people who have been devastated not by smoking but by this evil social control that every one of the main parties support. Don't tell me about 'big issues' when every single one of those parties is happy to destroy the social lives of millions and call it 'progress'.
Just because they don't like the smell. Past comments here have established, beyond doubt, that that is the only reason for this ban and for the continued harassment of people who happen to like a smoke. "I don't like it so you can't have it." Anyone remember the saying 'like a bitch with a bone'? All those old sayings are fading away and yet many of them have never been more relevant.
The economy means little to me because it is totally buggered and whoever gets in is going to have to do some dreadful things to fix it. What matters to me is those little things that affect everyday existence, parts of life that no government has any business controlling but none of them will just leave me alone. There is, to me, no point living in a 'rich' country if I am treated like something a high-and-mighty politician might have stepped in. There is more to life than money. Another of those sayings from my past. Was I the only one there? Sometimes it feels like it.
There is no money for pensions yet they all want us to live longer. Why? Surely if we smokers, drinkers, salties and fatties want to enjoy ourselves to death and save many years of pension costs, it's nobody else's business. Yes, we might die younger but we will at least have enjoyed our short stay. An extra ten years with no smoke, booze, salt or fat is not life. It's a sentence. And at the end of it, what? Lying in a hospital bed, dying of nothing?
I can discount Labour and Green as possible votes. They really, really hate me. I will not vote Lib Dem because that level of indecision is scary - and they hate me too. They might win anyway but I'm not going to help.
That leaves Tory, SNP or BNP. Tories have done well here in the past but haven't won, and since the SNP came on the scene, Oily Al has steadily pushed the Tory vote down. I don't understand it - the SNP is not a natural home for Tories. I can see them stealing most of the Labour vote but not the Tories. Perhaps Tory voters are just not bothering?
The Tory candidate is local, which should appease many of those who think 'Tory' means 'English'. He has a real job in the private sector and has past form of increasing Tory vote share (but not winning) in another constituency. I have no idea how he feels about the smoking ban, whether he cares at all or whether he is happy to watch those local pubs shut down and to treat smokers as filth. I have a few days to find out. The Tories at least offer some respite from the Stasi state even though they don't like me.
The SNP guy once had a real job but is now a career politician. He lives in Edinburgh. That will not go down well here and it looks like a big mistake by Oily Al, who is backing a non-local candidate in an area that is the Scottish version of Royston Vasey. I've lived in various bits of it for over 20 years and I am still not 'local' and never will be. He has no past parliamentary form so I have no idea whether he, personally, despises smokers or whether he can be reasoned with. An unknown, and not likely to convince me.
The BNP have a local wench, same age as me but better looking (it's not difficult). She has worked in real jobs, both public and private sector. The quandary I have is that the BNP have a central policy of removing the smoking ban but they also have a central policy of removing a lot of other things too, including some people I count as friends. They are not 'local' either. It takes generations to be 'local' in these parts but a matter of days to be 'accepted'. In fact, thinking about it, the local people actually implement BNP policy already! They are happy for we 'guffies' to stay but they won't let us be 'locals'.
So. Tories and BNP have local candidates with real life experience but have little hope of winning the seat. SNP have a career politico from Edinburgh and would probably have walked it if it had been a local candidate, but they might just win anyway.
Only the BNP promise any respite for smokers, escape from the EU money-draining machine and pulling our troops out wars we shouldn't be in. However, they will not win here and they still, for me, link to skinheads and racism. It might be unfair but I'm of the age that recalls the skinhead gangs very clearly and I don't want them back.
The Tories offer some removal of the Stasi state but not, so far, enough. I hope they are saving the good stuff until the closing rounds. They are very unlikely to win because their main voters seem to have given up here. Labour have filled the area with benefit-trapped chavs and Entitled wasters but that is going to work better for the SNP than for Labour this time. They can have their benefits and still kick the Gorgon in the teeth. Hey, Gorgon, they are your creation. Didn't you read 'Frankenstein'?
My choice then, is between a party that will remove the smoking ban but also some of my friends, which is a very high price to pay, or a party that won't help me out but will at least cut back the databases.
So, like Bomb 20, I have to consider the matter further. Then, most likely, explode.
By the way, take a look at what Sgt. Pinback is doing in the control room of a very expensive deep-space spaceship.
Nowadays he'd have to float around outside.