Friday, 3 February 2012

Living with denormalisation.

Tomorrow, or rather later today since it's already Friday, there is a smoky-drinky. It's occurred to me that it's been some time since I hosted one of these events, but what the hell. The local smoky-drinky has sort of settled into one guy's house. I wonder if that's how pubs started?

He hasn't started brewing his own beer yet but there have been noises made about that possibility. Naturally he can't charge for it because that would constitute a 'business' and that would mean we can't smoke in there but we'd all chip in for the equipment and the kits and all help out with the brewing. I've done it from raw ingredients in the past and it's better than any kit - although by 'raw' I mean I did buy pre-malted barley and dried hops. Not quite first principles.

At the moment smoky-drinky is mainly a whisky event but as Prohibition spreads out from York, that might change things. Assuming it manages to break the natural barrier in Glasgow, that is.

The leisure industry and CAMRA will not stop the Puritans because they are still addicted to smoker-hating and have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the idea that anything but the smoking ban is causing the pubs to close. In the comments at the Curmudgeonly Bar, the blame for closing pubs is actually laid at the feet of the smokers. Pubs are closing because we smokers stopped going to places that didn't want our custom. Because we didn't want to freeze to death in an exposed 'shelter' you'd be jailed for keeping a pig in. It's currently -6C outside. Is it so surprising that I'm not planning on visiting the pub?

It's not some kind of 'smoker attack on pubs'. I haven't been inside a cinema or a restaurant since the ban came in and soon stopped using cafes too. It's not relaxing to be made unwelcome, so why on Earth would I pay extra for it? I drink my tea and coffee at home too, and bought an espresso machine a few years back as a direct result of the smoking ban. It's a Gaggia Cubika and it's excellent.

No, smokers did not 'crawl into the gutter and whisper disquiet'. We made alternative arrangements. Some now buy all their tobacco abroad, some from Man with a Van, some of us are even trying our hands at growing the stuff. We set up our own smoky-drinkies which cannot be clubs because that would invoke the smoking ban. They cannot be open to the general public because that would invoke the ban. No business can be conducted there because that would invoke the ban. We meet up, smoke, drink and talk just as we used to in the pub, and nobody is forced to go outside. So no, we don't need sympathy, we don't need pity, we don't care what the antismokers think and we don't need the pubs.

If the ban was repealed we are not likely to rush back to the pubs (if there are any left by then), but it's probable we would trickle back. We do, after all, quite like pubs. We didn't 'desert' them, we were thrown out.

However, if the day comes that we have a Government with a spine, and the insane eugenics-driven agenda is at last cast aside, all those smoky-drinkies will be ready to open for business. Probably as ale-houses first of all, offering home-brewed beers for pennies a pint. Which is where the pubs started.

It has been suggested that we all stop smoking so we can go to pubs again but a smoke and a drink go together for us. You might as well suggest we wear ear muffs in the cinema or only eat half of whatever we are served in a restaurant. A drink without a smoke is half the experience and yet you want us to pay extra for it?

It has been suggested that smokers should fight the ban by determinedly lighting up in pubs, but that would get us jail time and get the pub fined into bankruptcy. How does that help support the pubs? Besides, it would most likely be a CAMRA member who reported us and who caused the closure of that pub. We have no allies. Fat people sneer at us, people who like salt on their chips sneer at us, people who like sugar in their tea sneer at us, none of them can look past their smoker-hate to see the same thing coming their way even when it's already arrived. They'll just have to deal with denormalisation on their own. We have, and we're doing okay, thanks. You want help when the eugenics juggernaut hits you? No. We are non-persons and you antismokers did that to us. Find your own ways to cope.

Even the tobacco companies are no use at all. They are only now waking up to what 'plain packaging' actually means, when they could have been supporting their customers from the beginning. Screw the tobacco companies. They don't care about their customers. They only react when their profits are threatened. Tobacco grows in Scotland even in these inexpert hands so it'll grow almost anywhere.

I'm still planning to 'lose' some seeds this year but that won't work too early because of frost. I'm considering 'dropping' a few established plants into holes that 'just appeared' in waste ground to give them a better start. Further south, where the frost window closes earlier, wild tobacco is a real possibility. Here there is a saying 'Ne'er cast a clout till May is out' - which roughly translated means that anything planted outside before the end of May is likely to freeze to death.

Wild tobacco in Scotland is not likely to do that well. Since I have enough seed to plant half of Scotland I'm going to try anyway. If I visit Wales this year I'll be suggesting we take a drive over those empty, wild mountains.

So no, anonymous commenter, we did not 'crawl into the gutter and whisper disquiet'. We have been active, we just haven't bothered to tell anyone what we've been up to.

Why would we, when nobody listens to us anyway?


Thomas said...

I think the idea of quietly planting tobacco seed all over the countryside and having it hopefully spread out on its own is an excellent idea. If enough people began doing it, pretty soon it might become a solid staple plant adapting to the climate and be showing up everywhere as indigenous. Why some of that seed might even find itself scattering into city parklands, gardens and glassed in conservatories in time. It would be another perfect protest of the smoking ban idea.

Belinda Cunnison said...

anti-smokers would probably call it 'eco-terrorism'.

Conan_the_Librarian said...

Perhaps in many years time you will be known as "Tobacco Leggy"...

Beehive said...

"Pubs are closing because we smokers stopped going to places that didn't want our custom."

So what happened to all the people who were supposed to be flocking to the pub once the smoking ban came in?  You know, the ones who hadn't been goingause of the 'fuggy atmosphere' in the bar?

Junican said...

It would be interesting to find out whether or not there are hardy varieties of tobacco plant. The thing is that, at the moment, we are obliged to cultivate annuals because, in the parts of the world where conditions are best, annuals produce the greatest crop. I seem to remember Rose finding some historical references to tobacco plants growing wild along river banks in Indian territory in the USA. In the past, tobacco plants MUST have at least self-seeded, otherwise they would never have been available at all.

Might be worth investigating - when I get time.

I used to take the kids blackberrying when the were young. It would be a nice twist if I could take the grandkids 'tobaccoing' instead! 

Matt said...

I was always told May referred to the Hawthorn being in bloom.  A better indicator than sticking to a calendar

Jay said...

"They are only now waking up to what 'plain packaging' actually means, when they could have been supporting their customers from the beginning."

I can assure you that this is not the case (e.g. see:   This is BAT's site, but you could visit any tobacco company's site and see something similar).  The threat of plain packaging has been around for about ten years now, but much more actively in the past 5 to 6 years at the inception of the smoking ban here in the UK.  Tobacco companies have spent a great deal of money, time and effort to prevent the ban and plain packaging laws.  But if we really want things to improve, then it is going to have to be us, the consumers, who take action. 

The real problem is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that in part aims to keep governments from having any meaningful dialogue with tobacco companies and vice versa.  The only way "in," so to speak, is through tobacco retailers and alliances, which are roundly ignored anyway.  FOREST does its best to lobby on both the consumers' and in some ways the tobacco companies' behalf, but it has limited influence and even more limited funds. At least it has a voice, and we should support them vigorously.

Leg-Iron, I get that you're angry.  You should be angry.  You should be fucking livid. I know I am.  But you need to direct all of that anger at the "fASHists" and slimy-ass politicians and the mainstream media who don't give only flying shit about you. It is these people who are ruining everything -- it is these people who are attempting to control your life and your lifestyle.  It is their profits you need to consider.

The tobacco companies are not your enemy.  They are, unfortunately, marginalised in this debate, and the reason you haven't heard from them is because no media outlet will go near them.  You think they really don't care?  They do their best to let you know, but their best is hindered by every bullshit law out there.  If you want to find something out, you are forced to go their web sites and find it for yourself.  That's what the anti-smoker laws have done...

Maybe it's time for all of us to go out there and make a difference for ourselves.  If we want our lifestyles back, we're going to have fight to get them back.  But who amongst us is willing to do that?  I mean, what exactly are all of you willing to do? How far would you go? What would you sacrifice for others?  Smokey-drinkeys are awesome, but they are merely a plaster on the sore that is tobacco control.  The antis are gearing up to make smokey-drinkeys illegal, too.  Expect it.  It's coming.  We need to stop them.  We need to take action now.

Woodsy42 said...

The casting clouts after May is out refers to the may blossom or hawthorn - nature's indicator of spring and the end of frosts apparently.

Lou said...

I agree with all you say about the tobacco companies being made mute. From a commercial standpoint much of what's going on is terrifying and I suspect some companies are put off from investing because it's spread - even to aviation.

Blogs on the other hand are doing their bit to spread the word, as Stephen Williams discovered. Just because they're officially ignored, don't think the news and ideas they put forth are so much chaff; reporters and politicians do check in from time to time.

Don't ignore individuals like Chris Carter whom Nurse Pat tells us has escaped jail through our efforts.

What LI and a heck of a lot of smokers are doing is screwing up their statistics on the numbers of smokers and denying the government millions in revenue. Irrespective of claims to the contrary, the number of active smokers is on the rise.

If you want to get out there and do something, then join Pat when she has her stroll through London.

Jay said...

Thanks for your comments, Lou.  I haven't ignored anyone.  Honest.  And trust me, I am doing something.  That said, may I have a link to Pat's stroll in London page, please? 

Lou said...

Jay said...


David Davis said...

It'' be interesting to see exactly when we suddenyl can't buy nicotiana seeds any more, in garden centres and suchlike.

Legiron said...

It's possible they could become hardy over time. If enough seeds go out, there's always a chance that some later-germinating ones will bypass the worst of the frosts and go on to produce a hardy annual variety that can self-seed.

Legiron said...

 It's already happened. Nothing legal about it, but some have reported strange responses when asking garden centres about seeds. They think it's illegal already.

Legiron said...

 I see your point. The antis use 'divide and rule' to separate suppliers from their customers.

But look at it from the viewpoint of the smoker-in-the-street. All they see are the controls, the abuse and the Government-sponsored hate. Most don't read blogs. Many don't even use the internet at all. You can't get them active if they a) don't know  you're there and b) believe they have been abandoned by the tobacco companies.

Yes, we know they will come for the smoky-drinkies as well as the individual tobacco, booze and food items, the internet, all of it and we are planning ahead. We will be made illegal, but what the hell, we are treated as if we are illegal already.

So how to get the message out? Internet? Forget it, it has too small a base among smokers so far and even if those have internet don't know where to look. Word of mouth? Yes, but it's slow, and if you're talking to people in pubs they won't remember details. Handing them a FOREST and/or F2C flyer can help - as long as they remember to take it home.

Soon the tobacco companies won't be able to put anything on the outside of packets other than Government-mandated hate-porn and a name-label.

But what about the insides of those packets?

The company details should surely be available on any product. Including a website address.

Perhaps a generic 'smoker's club' kind of website run by all the companies?

How could the antis object? Nobody can see that website address unless they've bought a plain packet from behind the armoured screen, unwrapped it and opened it. No non-smoker need ever know it's there. Hardly any smokers would even notice.

But you know what? If the tobacco companies did that, ASH would have that web address in every newspaper in every country by the following morning. Better make sure it has plenty of bandwidth ;)

Slam Lander said...

A little off-topic but I thought I'd point you to this:

You are on blogger. It may soon be time for a move, methinks.

Legiron said...

Anticipated and already under way ;)

Google have been getting dodgier lately so I've been busy in the background. When it's ready I'll only have to port comments over and leave a 'moved' notice.

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