It was an extended, small-hours smoky-drinky evening last night and there was much discussed but for some unfathomable reason, I can't seem to remember it too clearly.
Stolen child remains stolen, parents' marriage is cracking under the strain but Antisocial Services aren't worried about that. This child wasn't even overweight. I don't think the parents are likely to get the lad back unless they win the lottery and hire people to steal him back.
Last night's host has arthritis and last night was the worst I'd seen him in a long time. Lucky we were in his house because he wasn't going to be walking very far. Still managed to put away a good belt of whisky, but as he says, it doesn't stop the pain. It just means he doesn't fret about it. He'd take several minutes to get out of his chair and then stand for several more until the pain subsided enough to try to move. He is not classed as disabled by the caring profession so gets no benefits for that.
Arthritis hit him in his teens. Doctors told him he'd be in a wheelchair in his twenties. He's nearly fifty and no wheelchair to be seen. Never mind the placebo effect, this is something medical science has never considered - the bloody-mindedness effect. You want him in a wheelchair, you'll have to superglue him to it.
The smoking pensioner hasn't taken to Electrofag which isn't good, because she has shadows on both lungs. Could be an infection which antibiotics can deal with, could be a lot worse, we don't know yet. She still has Electrofag, maybe she'll give it a go, but then seventy-year-olds are hard beasts to change.
If you have lung problems, stop smoking until it clears up. That's not antismoking propaganda. If you had RSI (wanker's wrist) I'd advise you to lay off typing and bishop-bashing until you'd recovered. If you sprained an ankle, I'd suggest maybe reconsidering that marathon entry for this year. If some part of your body is damaged, leave it alone and let it heal. I have certainly laid off the tobacco in the past when I've had bad colds or flu. Straight back to it when I've recovered. That was long before Electrofag which produces steam that might actually help a sore throat. Next time I get one, I'll try it.
[Apocrypha - I have only once had laryngitis. Someone phoned to ask how I was. I hung up and sent an intemperate Email. Don't phone people who can't speak. It just annoys them.]
Another is interested in Electrofag, mostly because he's worked out he spends more on smoking (readymades) than he does on rent. He's working so I gave him links rather than let him take a battery and cartridge away. I'm not made of Electrofags, you know! An Electrofag starter set costs no more than five packs of readymades so trying it isn't a big financial risk for a readymade smoker. It makes a bigger impact on a rollie smoker. Even so, although I use it more in winter when it's horrible outside, over the year it does save money.
The message 'would the Jews vote for Hitler?' is going down well among smoky-drinkers. Next stage is to drop that line outside a few pubs. Catchy, isn't it? Oh, if you're thinking of typing the phrase 'Godwin's Law', read this first. If you still want to invoke Godwin's law afterwards, be aware that I am just going to laugh at you. Also, be aware that most of those standing outside pubs have neither heard of it, nor will care about it.
They are, however, likely to be interested to hear how much of their council tax is spent on persecuting them. Via Email (I'm not going to reveal the source unless he wants me to, and he didn't say) came a link to a response for an FOI request as to how much Norwich City Council spent on enforcing the smoking ban. Some highlights:
How much has the council spent on salaries, staff training, equipment and publicity (including leaflets, 'no-smoking' signs, advertisements and awareness activities)?
£63000 was paid by central government to Norwich City Council and this was spent on the above expenses. Much of the officer time was also spent on other work but it is not possible to provide information on how much time was spent on each issue.
There was a phrase, long ago, that applied when someone asked a very pertinent question to which nobody knew the answer. 'Ah, that's the sixty-four thousand dollar question'. Here, it seems, we have the sixty-three thousand pound answer. In Norwich, that's how much they spend on harassing smokers for no other reason than that some people get all weepy about a bit of a pong. Sixty three grand could buy a couple of nurses to look after old, pickled smokers, rather than harassing them when they're not ill.
Look how many complaints the council received in one year;
6 complaints that were referred to us by the National Smokefree Compliance Line
That's the Spiteful Harridan Hotline. You know, the one where someone who is totally unaffected by someone else smoking can call in and whine anyway.
I have to wonder if there was one from the sewage farm, you know? Or maybe the local battery-hen box or the piggery? It would not surprise me in the slightest to find that people who work in environments that make your eyes water would be upset at a little bit of tobacco smoke.
So, a hundred and twenty-seven complaints. That must have brought in some fine revenue.
Between the period of 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2010, Norwich City Council have received a total of £220 for breaches of the smoking ban.
I'm no accountant but to me, that is not a good return on investment. if I set up something that cost me sixty-three grand and my return was £220, I would stop doing it at once. Losing 62,780 in one year is Very Bad Business. But hey, citizens of Norwich, it's not their money they are losing. It's yours.
It's a fairly safe bet that every council would return similar figures. All over the country, that council tax paid by smokers and non-smokers alike is being poured away to demonise a group of people that you non-smokers used to be quite happy to have around. Antismokers were always Righteous Nazis anyway, but their ideology has spread and is costing you non-smokers now. You'd spend less if you took up smoking yourselves instead.
Antismokers like to shout 'Smokers cost the NHS money'. Well, the fact is that the smoking ban is costing YOU money. Not the NHS, and God alone knows how much of your taxes they also spend on this demonisation exercise before we even start on the fat and salt and drink etc programmes YOU are paying for. All that smoker hatred is expensive, and the bill lands on your doorstep. That cost is not because we smoke. That cost is entirely due to your hatred of smokers. Did you think hate was free?
The best part is that the FOI response comes with the warning that if you want to do anything with this information (such as send it to a rabid smoking blogger) you have to talk to the council first. Freedom is a relative term in our brave new world and is variably defined depending on what the council want it to be. Freedom of information is defined as 'don't tell anyone else but...' and everyone but the Council drones know where that leads.
The letter is signed by Chris Lambert who is Norwich Council's 'Democratic Services officer'.
Democratic Services officer. My ghast has never been so flabbered.
I need a drink and a smoke. Fortunately I have both to hand.