Tonight marked a couple of big lasts for me. It was the last night I would be working a smoking venue, and it was the last I would be in a smoky bar in my homeland.
The first is actually quite a big one: I’ve either lived above or worked in a smoking establishment for all of my life (bar about six months at the very start). Nigh on twenty six years of it. And in all honesty, I don’t think I minded that much. When I lived above a bar, I quite enjoyed the smoky atmosphere, because it was an essential part of the atmosphere. Especially the pipe smoke; the smell of a lit pipe is brilliant. And when the involvement became work based, I didn’t mind it either. Sure, I’d grown up with worse.
As to the being in a smoky bar, that’s more of the same. I’ll confess to not liking the feel of clothing in the morning after, and I’m not fond of people deliberately blowing smoke in my face, but the smoke is part of the atmosphere. A lot of pubs/clubs have no-smoking areas, and I’ve been known to frequent them if I was feeling any ill effects, so it all worked out quite nicely.
From Sunday, however, it won’t be the same. No more smoking in bars, no more swirling drifts casting shadows. Because the nannies won this one, and decided that they knew far better than the rest of us; that they could and should limit the property rights of people; and that they should be using this sledgehammer to crack anything vaguely nut like.
I’ve been against the smoking ban from the start. Governments are saying that they’re making the hard decisions in the interest of public health, but they’re not. They’re balancing the needs of the Treasury against public health, and ignoring the civil liberty aspect of their decisions altogether. If they banned tobacco sales entirely, they’d be acting in the interests of public health, but they won’t because they’re addicted to the income as much as a smoker is addicted to the nicotine. Instead, they’re dictating what can be done in private homes1, they’re saying truck drivers can’t smoke in their own trucks2 and they’re saying that perfectly legal activities cannot be carried out in licensed premises.
All that annoys me. But it’s not what annoys me the most. What annoys, and scares, me the most is this:
I’m pretty sure I’ll quite like the outcome: less smoke in my clothes and my lungs.
Why does this annoy and scare me? Because of something best said by PJ O’Rourke:
Whenever Iâ€™m in the middle of conformity, surrounded by oneness of mind with people oozing concurrence on every side, I get scared. And when I find myself agreeing with everybody, too, I get terrified.
And, beyond that, because I’m still confident that the nannies won’t stop here. They’ve seen that they’ve won this one; it may have taken them twenty years, but they managed to make what was once an activity enjoyed by tens of millions of people and make it dirty; they’ve managed to take something that was enjoyed everywhere and limit it to a tiny fraction of people’s day; they’ve managed to bend the will of everyone in the land to their will.
It may take another twenty years, it may take longer, but their attention will move elsewhere. There will be something else that is perfectly acceptable now, and loved by all, that will, in time, become worse than killing children with piano string nooses.
They’ve started with alcohol. I don’t expect it to end there. Chocolate is bad for you; salt is bad for you, sugar is bad for you. I wouldn’t be surprised if any (or all) of these was subjected to the same constant pressure, resulting in banning.
In fact, life is bad for you: nobody has survived it yet. Maybe it will be the end target. Because this line in the sand has been crossed. And I can’t see any more where a fighting defence could be successful.
We’ve caved in; where now do we stop the nannies from destroying our lives in the cause of keeping us alive3?
1 – A private home becomes a workplace any time two employees discuss their work in that home.
2 – Since trucks need annual testing with another person in the cab, it falls under the ban, even for the other 364 days of the year.
3 – Because living and staying alive are two very different things. Some in a PVS is staying alive, but I don’t know that you would call it living.