Have you ever sucked your own plums?
It's a great feeling, to munch on something you've grown yourself. Even better when it's effortless, because I do nothing beyond light pruning to that plum tree and it's actually bending under the weight of plums this year. Tomatoes involve some work, but not much, and those reached the roof of the greenhouse a while ago. If all the flowers turn to tomatoes I'll be making my own ketchup. Chilli plants are huge and covered with green chillis but there's been too little sunshine to turn them red this year. Even the tomatoes have to be taken indoors to turn red. i will have to try that with the chillis.
Soon I hope to be smoking home grown tobacco too. I've seen a wide range of curing options, from simply dunking the dried leaves in boiling water and re-drying them, to some bizarre ritual involving boiling them for an hour with brown sugar, honey and glycerine followed by pressing in a purpose-bought device. Sod that. The entire point of this exercise was to see if it could save money and if I have to buy in a load of gear, I might as well just buy my tobacco in Tesco.
I'm not likely to end up with much smokeable baccy after this. My garden is too small for more than a few plants although there is a large area of waste ground behind the house and if seeds were to accidentally blow over there, well it's not my fault...
At the moment, I break even if I make two ounces and looking at the leaves I have drying, if they all dry properly I'll be quids in. Even if half of them go mouldy I'm still in profit. Plus, of course, next year I'll have learned from the blunders I made this year and I won't have to buy buckets and trays so my starting costs will be much lower.
None of this would ever have happened if not for the antismoking lobby and the refusal of either the tobacco industry or the pub industry to speak up for their customers. I'm an outcast, and outcasts learn to look after themselves. I spend no money in pubs and if this comes off, I eventually won't even be spending money with Man with a Van. Especially not when plain packaging arrives.
Once tobacco comes in plain packaging, it will be pretty much impossible to spot the fakes. You won't know if you're buying something that's twenty percent real tobacco and eighty percent dried lawn clippings. Not even if you buy it in a shop. If a smoker can't see the difference in the packets - indeed, can't even see the packets before buying - how would a non-smoking shopkeeper know if he's stocking the genuine product or a criminal's fake?
So growing tobacco is not just an affectation. It could soon reach the day where the only tobacco I can trust will be that I've grown myself.
The tobacco companies ignored us whenever the tax went up. They ignored us when we were thrown out of practically everywhere. They cut supplies to the cheaper countries we could buy from. They have taken no interest in the losses incurred by those robbed by UKBA. Now, all of a sudden, they are battling plain packaging. For the sake of their customers? No, because the counterfeiters will find it easy to fake plain packets and this is the only thing that will affect tobacco company profits. Don't imagine those companies care about their customers. They are not your friends.
When UKBA steal a legitimate shopper's tobacco, the tobacco companies don't mind at all. They know the smoker will just have to buy more and they've already banked the profit on the stolen goods. To hell with them. Tobacco is not at all hard to grow. I have six-foot plants on my first try, and I live north of Aberdeen. Unfortunately the wind mashed a few of them and the slugs have a liking for chewing tobacco but there were bound to be mistakes on the first go. There will be mistakes in the curing process too, but I'll get the hang of it.
We can't even rely on the tobacco companies when it comes to battling the Nazis. And yes, Nazis is the correct term. You can stuff your Godwin where the sun don't shine. Take a look at the thought processes described in Dick Puddlecote's latest offering:
Linda Bauld, professor of socio-management at Stirling University's Institute for Social Marketing, says she was unprepared for the scale of the personal attacks aimed at discrediting her work on smoking behaviour and anti-smoking legislation.
I believe, absolutely, that she is telling the truth. She genuinely did not expect anyone to get angry, she thought she could just lie and everyone would be calm and accept her lies as truth. Really. She is not pretending here. I've had dealings with this kind of creature in the past and doublethink doesn't even come close to describing their minds.
It is exactly the same mindset that could not understand why anyone would be upset about the gassing of Jews. They are only Jews/smokers/fat people/burger eaters/drinkers/salt addicts. It's not as if they are real people. What's everyone getting so upset about? That is the mindset we are dealing with.
It is unpalatable, yes. Hard to believe, yes. If I wrote such a character into one of my scary stories you'd all scoff and say I'd gone beyond the bounds of credibility. This is not a story. They are real. These are the real bogeymen, the real monsters, and Hollywood could never come close to putting them on screen.
Linda Bauld really, genuinely and absolutely did not expect anyone to get at all upset when she called for the denormalisation of one set of human beings just because she disapproves of the way they live. The antismoker comments you see on blogs, forums and newspapers are the same mindset. They are the reason Hitler came to power, the reason Vlad the Impaler could get so many sharpened poles, the reason the Spanish Inquisition grew to such strength, the reason homosexuals are hung from cranes and rape victims are stoned to death in other countries to this day.
It's that mindset that goes beyond 'I don't approve of that' and into 'People who do that are not human, therefore real humans are certain to support me when I want them gone'. Linda Bauld is shocked at death threats. Read the papers. Read the comments. Smokers and fat people get death threats every day. Linda's sort don't see a problem with that. They really and honestly don't expect any backlash at all.
Nazism is only the most recent official incarnation of this mindset. It has always been there. It always will be. It's here again and it will be back in the future. I call them the Righteous for a reason.
They absolutely, genuinely believe they are doing this for our own good. They absolutely, genuinely believe that only they know the correct way to live and the rest of us will thank them for forcing us onto the one true path. They simply cannot understand why we would object to being ordered to live our one and only life the way they want to live theirs.
It is, I know, difficult to comprehend. It took me quite some time. The difference between us and them is that it is possible for us to comprehend their minds (even though it's disgusting) but they will never consider any viewpoint other than their own.
That's why they always fall. Our enemy is entirely predictable and cannot pass for long as one of us. Their enemy is adaptable and can pass for a long time as one of them (ASH still haven't found me in their midst). Even with it explained to them, they cannot and will not see it. How can they be wrong? They are perfect.
The next fall looks like it will happen within my lifetime. Cracks are showing, fortresses are crumbling, the indoctrinated have been pushed to the brink and are about to topple over it. As my favourite fictional character, the Joker, once said: "All it takes is a little push". The Righteous don't see it and never will. They never have. Once again, they will fall.
Unfortunately, they will always rise again.
As for allies in this, forget the tobacco companies. To them, smokers are the same milk cows the taxman sees. Back to nature. Grow your own.
Isn't that the mantra these days?