Thursday, 17 February 2011

Darth Smoker.

I had the annual visit from Coupon Man today. Every year he comes around selling a book of coupons for local businesses. Twenty quid a book but you can save far more than that if you make extensive use of the coupons.

Some years ago, I bought one. I saved more than it cost. Discounts in pubs, cafes and restaurants, some of them very impressive discounts too. I haven't bought another one for years.

Today I explained why. 'You can save money at all these places,' he said.

'I never go to those places any more,' I said.

'Well, you could have a cheap night out at this fancy restaurant...'

'They don't want my business.'

'Huh?' He probably thought I'd been banned for being raucous and uncouth. That's never happened. I was once banned in absentia from a nightclub for lending my membership card to someone else but that's it. I am not a raucous drinker.

I explained that, as a smoker, I'd have to stand outside all these places so there really was no point in me visiting them at all. I could just go there and stand outside for free, so why pay anything? Once again, I had to hear the smug denouncement of my terrible addiction with 'Oh, but you can enjoy yourself without smoking, can't you?'

Yes, I can. I enjoy gardening. I might stop for a smoke but I don't smoke while I'm doing it. I build intricate models, and can't smoke at the same time. I enjoy many other things apart from smoking but I also enjoy a smoke.

It's really very simple. If I'm on a bus, train, plane, or even in a non-smoker's car, I don't smoke. That is no hardship. I am in those machines because I am at point A, I want to be at point B and this is the easiest and quickest way to do it. I am not in the machines for pleasure, I don't actually like travelling and if someone invented teleports, I'd be delighted.

If I'm having a relaxing evening in a pub, smoking is part of that relaxation. Take away the smoking and the evening is pointless. I get on a bus to get somewhere, not to enjoy the experience. I go to a pub to enjoy myself and if I cannot, then there is no point in being there.

It has nothing to do with the price of drinks in pubs. Make the drinks free and I still won't go. There is nothing to enjoy there. I'll still have to smoke out in the rain and the cold. I don't care how much discount I can get in a place that is going to make me feel unwelcome the moment I go through the door. It's like offering me a discount membership to the Women's Institute. They don't want me in there, so saving money on the way in is futile.

I could not make Coupon Man see that 'going to the pub' is not an enjoyable way to spend an evening because I can't smoke inside and unless the pub has a beer garden, I can't drink outside. No, it is not that 'I cannot enjoy myself without smoking'. I enjoy many things which don't involve smoking. How can I be expected to enjoy seeing signs that say 'We don't want your sort in here. Spend your money then get lost'.

So I didn't buy the coupons. Coupon Man went away, no doubt convinced that I am too addicted to be of help supporting those local businesses but I no longer care at all. I can care no more than I would if any local club stated it did not want me as a member, then closed down because they wouldn't let anyone else join either. Why would I support a business that despises me and puts up signs to say so?

Sure, the pubs don't have a choice, but they did. They could have fought the ban, could do so even now. Still they insist that it is supermarket prices that are driving customers away. The supermarket prices, that had no effect on their custom at all before the ban, are now the sole reason smokers don't visit any more. The pubs didn't fight and still don't. Instead they insisted the ban be extended to private clubs. Thanks to the pubs, smokers have nowhere at all to go and we are supposed to support them now?

I haven't been in a pub for a very long time. What I have noticed though, is a decline in the numbers standing outside. It has been extremely cold this winter and last, and the last two summers have been wet. Those smokers who persisted, who were willing to pay premium prices to stand in the rain, are giving up on the pubs. Several local ones are closed on midweek evenings now. I was one of the midweek visitors. I was probably one of the first to say 'The hell with this' and start up Smoky-Drinky evenings. I am certainly not the last.

The ban has had no effect on smoking. It has killed pubs and continues to do so. There is nothing smokers can do about it because we are excluded. We cannot support the pubs. The pubs won't let us in. The pubs won't even admit that the smoking ban has affected their trade at all. How can smokers be expected to help a business that denies our very existence?

Let them die. New Smoky-Drinky 'pubs' are already taking their place. They are not open to the public and cannot be as long as the ban stands. Nevertheless, smoking is not in decline because of the cowering quislings of the pub trade (with far too few exceptions). Smoking is as vibrant as ever. The pubs are disappearing, not the smokers.

The trembling wretches who are frightened of the shadow of a smoker are to be pitied, but smokers didn't do that to them. They did it to themselves with gullibility and stupidity. I will not announce myself as a smoker until I have shaken hands with them because I will enjoy explaining that only undiluted bleach can remove the contamination from their skin. If they don't read the bottle, that's their problem.

I look forward to those adverts from companies who will not employ smokers. I won't work for them and I will not buy from them either. I have no Apple products for that reason - they have declared that they will not honour service agreements with smokers in case we poison the machine. Fine with me. I won't buy any.

Make me a pariah. Make me a criminal. Make me an Angel of Death whose mere passing will kill your firstborn. I will revel in it all and I will be what you expect of me to the best of my ability. You want to be frightened? I am happy to oblige. You want to hear how and when you will die? I will treat you to a discourse more logical and convincing than anything you have heard from any antismoking campaign, and you will die as directed.

Tell me smokers are ugly. Tell me it's the smokers who are stupid. Tell me I stink even though you won't realise that until you know I smoke. I once spent an entire day in the company of a non-smoking business associate whose son was involved in the early Electrofags. He said 'Of course, you wouldn't be interested since you don't smoke'. He had never seen me smoke. He didn't know. Apparently the stench must have been muted by the fact that he had pet dogs, or some other excuse.

Right, antismokers. You cannot tell who I am or where I am. You believe all the lies you are fed and you believe you can smell me a mile away. You cannot smell me when I am next to you. You cannot see me nor can you hear me. I will stroke your child's head and then tell you I am a smoker and I will delight in your palpitations and panic. I will hold a sweet in my hand and give it to your child and not tell you about my smoking until the child has swallowed it. You can scream and wail but it's too late. Third hand smoke is in them now. Think of the money you'll save on birthday presents.

You want callous. So I give you callous. You want subhuman. I give you subhuman. You want evil. Here it comes. You want terror. It's my middle name. I did not choose to be this way. You antismokers chose it for me. Nothing I do produces any real danger but you believe it is there and it will, in some cases literally, scare you to death. Watch me not care. Think of me as Darwin's angel, sent to remove the useless from the species.

I cannot respect the stupid. I cannot care about the shrieking harpies. I cannot empathise with the brainless. Really, antismokers, what do you expect me to feel for people who wish death on me? Send me your gullible drones. I will send them back broken. I am not interested in breaking your lies any more, it's more fun to expand on them, to take them to heights your pitiful imaginations can never reach.

I am not interested in compromise. I am not one of those smokers who says maybe we can live together. We cannot. You antismokers have proved this to me. You made me. All I ever wanted was a smoke and a pint and to be left alone. You would not allow that. Now, I am your Frankenstein and I am ready to lead you onto the ice. You believe I can kill your children with my mere presence, I am happy to oblige. You believe you will die if you touch me, I will convince you that you will die if you look at me. You think you are contaminated if I live next door, I will show you how to be frightened if I live in the next street.

Who am I? Am I your postman, your milkman, your doctor, your father or your brother? I could be anyone. I might be your social worker or your Meals on Wheels visitor. Perhaps I am the midwife who delivered your child or the waiter who served your meal. I might be the barman or the one handing out leaflets on the corner. You might have touched that third hand smoke a hundred times today and not realised it. Did you sit on a bus, train or plane seat? In a doctor or dentist's waiting room? Who sat there before you? Was it one of us?

You don't buy second hand for your precious one in case it's contaminated so you buy new. Who handed it to you? Was it me? Did you touch the box at the same place as I did? Did you?

Ah, and money. I pay cash. Every penny that passes through my hands bears the mark of the Nicotine Beast. Where does it go? Did you get change today? Did you give your child pocket money, in cash, that might once have been mine? Oh, the abuse you will be guilty of is beyond compare. How can you live with yourselves?

I play the antismoker game. I do not expect to ever be allowed back into pubs, cafes or restaurants, so I have nothing to lose. You antismokers will not give an inch, you will never let up, you will never let me have my peaceful smoke and a drink ever again. You have ruined my relaxation time and I do not believe it will be back within my lifetime. So I will hurt you. I will scare you. I will boost your blood pressure and break your hearts. No, there is nothing to discuss. No compromise to be had. You will never allow it. You want a cruel, evil subhuman and you have it.

And you know, I will not apologise. You're mine for the taking.

I'll make it a career of evil.


PT Barnum said...

Pedant's corner - Frankenstein was the scientist, his creature (insofar as he had any name) was called Adam.

And never mind Darth wotnot, that penultimate paragraph was worthy of Caliban-meets-Iago, the sorely wronged taking terrible vengeance.

Anonymous said...

It is maddening having to explain the difference between a bus and a pub to someone who insists he (or more usually she) knows better than anyone else how pubs work.

They're ususally the same people who hold Weatherspoons up as the exemplar of all things pubby, which is okay. Everyone's entitled to their preference. My preference would be for them to all FOAD, but perhaps that's just being churlish?

Anonymous said...

'I haven't been in a pub for a very long time. What I have noticed though, is a decline in the numbers standing outside'.

Yep, because many are empty, soulless, and smelly (believe it or not).
I went out a few days ago and walked in and out several pubs.
Nearly all were either empty or just one of two people inside, one reeked of sewerage and all had the feeling of a graveyard.
Still years on only one had made an effort with a half decent smoking area, that was the one with most people in.
I had a couple of pints in that one and every single customer, bar-staff and the owner went out for a fag.
No hordes of non smokers enjoying the 'fresh' air, nothing. How blood sad this Country has got.

Anonymous said...

For non-smokers who want to join in the fun, may I suggest Tobacco Absolute?

"Tobacco absolute is often employed as a base note in perfumery, adding its touch in 'dry' or 'masculine' scented perfumes. "

"The finest Bulgarian Tobacco Absolute, chiefly used by perfumers and those wanting to enjoy the very sweet and very strong scent Tobacco Absolute exudes."

It can be horribly expensive, but you can buy a much cheaper dilution from the vapers.

Just a dab on the wrist and you too can join LI's reign of terror.


Anonymous said...

Once again Mr Pete Robinson tells them the truth.

Once again they will probably ignore it.
Pubs are a thing of the past ,gone for good.
Yes they are not worth visiting anymore,there boring.
Like the few antismokers inside ,boring.

Road_Hog said...

I think cost is a very big factor in the decline of pubs. When I moved into the village where I live now, it was £2.20 for a pint of Stella, by the end of 2010 it was £3.50. In 8 years my salary didn't increase by 60%.

For the price of a pint (£3.50) I can go to the local shop and pick up 4 x 500ml chilled cans of Stella.

Sure, Friday nights etc, when it's busy, the pub is the winner, but during the week, £3.50 or £14, it's not a hard decision to make.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"I pay cash. Every penny that passes through my hands bears the mark of the Nicotine Beast"

I remember going through a phase of writing 'Smoker's Money' on all notes I received before spending them. Perhaps it might be worth revisiting that one in light of the thirdhand smoke nonsense. ;)

Soapy said...

Reading that piece made me more excited than I have done for a long time !!

I shall delight is repeating your phrases and terrifying the puritans.

I feel quite invigorated at strangely evil. Well, they told me that I am evil, so here we go !!

Mongo said...

Hi LI,

I`ve been told I`m evil more than a few times, and berated for my cigar smoking.

I`ll develop a new strategy for the anti-smokers, f**k off you c**t was getting a bit old hat, although a violent assault is still my favourite.

Anonymous said...

Now THERE is an excellent idea!

Someone make up a rubber stamp that says "Smoker's Money" so one can rubber stamp all the bills. Get enough of it in circulation and it will make the point loud and clear.

Good idea there Mr. Puddlecat.

Anonymous said...

No doubt “coupon man” is a non-smoker, and his predictable retort is an indication that, even now, non-smokers just don’t “get it” do they? I guess it boils down to the fact that until you’ve experienced being at the sharp end of prejudice then, no matter how sympathetic or supportive you are, you just don’t “get it.” For myself, and for many other smokers I know, not going out unless you’re absolutely obliged to is as much about the principle as it is about the “not enjoying yourself.”

How dare restaurants and pubs and bars (and countless other venues) assume that our erstwhile loyal custom can be re-purchased for a few measly pounds off a microwaved meal? How dare they think that we’re happy to go back to places which have given us such an insulting smack in the eye just because we’re going to save a fiver? And how very dare they assume for a second that our values and priorities in any way equate to those of the penny-pinching, hand-rubbing, money-obsessed, anti-smoking scrooges who will go anywhere and suffer any indignity and unpleasantness, just so that they can take advantage of a pifflingly tiny “bargain.”

It’ll take a darned sight more than a couple of quid off a meal - which usually has to be ordered at a time before most people have even left work - to tempt the smoking community to spend their money in what are now such soulless, unfriendly and unwelcoming venues again.

Ed P said...

I agree with Anon @ 10:16 above: pubs are smelly places nowadays. Before, the smoky smell masked the BO. My local has four extract fans left over from when it was the smokiest pub around, but they are never running. I've pleaded with the landlord for some fresh air, but he says he cannot afford the extra cost of heating now his trade has dropped.
I don't smoke, but I'd prefer it the way it was.

Anonymous said...

This ban has effected non smokers too, I gave up over 30yrs ago but have stopped going to the pubs due to the smoking ban. One time my mates and I all sat in the pub, them smoking and me happily sitting with them but not smoking. Last time I went to a pub it was sit inside by myself or sit outside with my friends so I`m not wanted in pubs either. Bugger em got a nice bottle of black label at the mo so quite happy

Francis Urquhart said...

Could there perhaps be a groundswell in favour of my government repealing the smoking laws?

Leg-iron said...

PT Barnum - well, okay, but I'm not the actual monster. That will be in their heads. I'm just going to put it there.

Leg-iron said...

Rose - I wonder how many are already wearing essence of tobacco in aftershaves and perfumes, and don't know?

It's something that could be dropped into casual conversation, I think ;)

Leg-iron said...

Road Hog - I used to visit the pub at least once a week, my preference was for midweek when it was quiet enough to have a conversation. The weekends I left to others.

Yes, it was expensive even then, but that just meant I didn't overdo it. the drink was only part of the whole experience, the main attraction was the socialising. That doesn't work so well when you're out in the cold and the rain.

All that's left in the pub is the drink, and that's cheaper in the supermarket.

Leg-iron said...

Dick - that's a good idea.

Custom rubber stamps aren't expensive either. One saying 'Handled by Smokers' could be fun.

Leg-iron said...

Francis U - the government won't even consider an amendment. They insist we keep paying them to persecute us, all the same.

Anonymous said...

"Rose - I wonder how many are already wearing essence of tobacco in aftershaves and perfumes, and don't know?"

A great many I'd guess.
As far as I know, perfumers don't have to be ideologically sound.
They create, and creatives, as you know, have a natural exemption.

My favourite is Coenzyme Q10 anti-aging face cream.
How many female antismokers spout their malice through a face smeared with ubiquinone extracted from tobacco leaves?


Bill Sticker said...

The fall of the bars and pubs, the rise of the private 'smokey drinky' are quite predictable. You didn't have to be a genius to see where a ban would eventually lead.

Ah, I'm sure the good old days of prohibition will soon be with us again.

SadButMadLad said...

The private 'smokey drinkey' is the new speakeasy/blind pig.

Anytime regulation is increased and costs are increased for law abiding business it becomes more profitable to take illegal actions by avoiding the regulations.

During prohibition the quality of alcohol was very dubious (because there was no regulation of it) and it led to an increase in medical problems.

Smokey drinkeys will have the same effect, no regulation of extractor fans so even worse health risks for customers and staff, no regulation of fire escapes so potential for a major disaster, no regulation of working hours or wages leading to abuse of staff, etc.

Robert the Biker said...

I just bought Herself an electrofag and she is over the moon at the prospect of 'lighting up' in company again and then telling all the po faced harridans to fuck off as its not real.

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