Saturday, 30 April 2011

I am Toxic Man!

I have just read through 97,000 words in one session. It's the only way to catch blunders in a book, and there was a big one. Worse, it must be done sober. So I'm knackered and dry. I'll have to run through it again tomorrow and then it's ready to send.

There was nothing in the news today except some wedding or other so there's not much to say tonight. I'm going to have to brush up on my French though, so I can read what this says. I tried the online translation thingies but they come up with something that reads like an Ikea manual.

I remember enough to get the gist of it. The 'Leg-iron' moniker has been misunderstood again. Oh well. I should have put more thought into it.

No, I do not have a problem with smoking any more than I have a problem with eating, which I also do every day. These days it seems that if you do something once, decide you like it and then do it again, you must be addicted to it. Oddly enough, this always comes from someone who doesn't like doing it, whatever it is. If you like salt, someone who doesn't like salt will brand you a salt addict. Pick your pleasure, whatever it is, and someone out there will call you an addict.

Refuse to stop doing something you enjoy and that immediately becomes an inability to stop. There's no point arguing. If you don't stop, it's because you can't and not because you don't want to. The concept of 'Yes, I know it's not good for me but I like it anyway' is simply never considered.

What do you want from life? Do you want a fancy car or a private plane or a yacht or a swimming pool? Want to travel the world? Want to be one of the first space tourists? Fine, work towards getting those things. I will do nothing at all to stop you. I don't want any of them but I will not interfere in your life.

What I want from life is a quiet drink and a smoke. Too many people have decided that those things are bad for me and have decided that I must stop doing what I like doing. This (they say) will make my life longer but (they never admit) also miserable. Unfortunately, 'living longer' is more important than 'living happy' these days.

Look. I know smoking is not good for me. I know that there are risks that would be less (but not zero) if I didn't smoke. I know about these risks just as a racing driver, mountaineer or bungee jumper know the risks they take. Just because my preferred relaxation method doesn't fit the James Bond lifestyle does not mean it's not enjoyable. Spending most evenings in front of the TV has risks. Balance the risk against the enjoyment and make your choice. Your own choice. Not someone else's.

Put this in perspective. After my first degree, my first job involved fractionating carcinogenic materials from oil spillages in the radioactive lab. Nobody ever visited me in there. In those days we could still smoke in the coffee room and my bet is that those visits to the coffee room involved far less risk of cancer than when I was in the lab and not smoking. Would anyone claim I was addicted to fractionating oils in a radioactive room? Why not? It was dangerous and I did it every day. Why does it not fit the definition?

I have worked with large farm animals. The chance of being squashed by a cow or savaged by a boar is rather more immediate than the risk of maybe getting ill from smoking one day. And if you think sheep are harmless, go out into the fields when they have lambs. Again, it was dangerous and I did it every day, so was I addicted to cows?

Now I work with deadly bacteria. Am I addicted to deadly bacteria? I write stories. Am I some kind of weird fiction addict?

I know, the argument will be 'you do those things because you get paid, so it's different'. Yes, it is. They are not time off, not relaxing hobbies (the writing used to be) but I don't have to work with dangerous things. I could work with diatoms or lichens and take no risk at all. So it comes back to - am I addicted to whatever dangerous job I'm doing at the moment?

Why is it that what I choose to do for relaxation must be an addiction? Why is it that what I do for enjoyment is a 'problem' when I do far more dangerous things at work and that's not a problem? Why, if I am a smoking addict, have I chosen a profession where any hand-to-mouth action (smoking, drinking, eating, even picking your teeth) at work or even immediately after work carries such grave risks of infection?

My problem is not with smoking. It's with other people trying to run my life for me.

I have a simple outlook on life. All I really want is to be left alone.

Why is that such a problem for so many?


JuliaM said...

"I have a simple outlook on life. All I really want is to be left alone."

That's the 'hobby' that the NuPuritans fear the most. Not smoking, drinking, fatty foods.

That hobby says to them they're irrelevant, and they hate that...

Antipholus Papps said...

Fantastic stuff! If you don't mind, I might print some of this out and distribute it around the Brave New World of downtown Vancouver? There's a reason that Canada doesn't have to be quite so authoritarian, and that's because they're more brainwashed. We're banned from smoking within 6 metres of patios, windows, parks and beaches. And nobody thinks it odd. It's all settled science.

Anonymous said...

Bill in SD again. Wear a Guy Fawkes Mask; they won't catch you. I see this in your movies.

The right to be left along is supreme, and in fact, in America, it rarely will triumph in court. Under Force majure, it is the one right that trancends all others. A sad and decadent world approaches and we talk but still wait, silently like growing grass, as the sythe swings overhead...

smokervoter said...

I had a Business teacher who lectured that stifled new business formation on the part of the western world due to risk avoidance was setting the stage for its downfall. He often cited the destruction of the tobacco industry by the legal profession as a catalyst.

It seems to me that the growing economies of the world do focus more on making things and less on eradicating all risk from life. I'm not suggesting that we can smoke our way to prosperity, but China is one of the few nations with a rising rate of tobacco use.

Zaphod said...

I read your blog regularly, but I seldom comment.

You're always an inspiration, and never boring. But commenting is only really enjoyable when I can disagree!

Keep it up, please. :-)

Frank Davis said...

No need to brush up on your French. The French thing is a translation of one of your pieces. So there's no need to translate it back into English. You can just read the original thing you wrote.

The only things that need translating are the italic interjections ('brun') throughout the translation, and the further non-italic remarks at the end of the translation.

But I think I understand what it means when they say "Dommage pour Leg-iron de ne pas lire le Francais". It means "Too bad Leg-iron can't read French."

Woodsy42 said...

" The 'Leg-iron' moniker has been misunderstood again."

Yes, what does it mean?

Is it like a 'fire-iron', but you kick things with it rather than poke them :-)

timbone said...

I suddenly remembered something tonight, one of those random memories which occur once in a while. In 1968 my Dad was steward at a club, you know, ran the place. He had a customer with TB. The guy could not sit in the main bar because the smoke irritated his condition. Now I am going to say something which some would not like to hear. Because of one feckin guy, a very nice guy may I add, who had a condition which did not tolerate a smoky atmosphere, the whole feckin world has to give up smoking!!!

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