How to say something without saying it

I have nothing against Travelers, or Tinkers or Knackers of Pikeys or whatever the fuck is their current Politically Correct name.

If they don't bother me, then I won't bother them.  They have their lifestyle and I have mine, and ne'er the twain shall meet.  If they call to the door to tell me they are "doing a job for my neighbours" and have some spare tarmac over and would I like my drive done, I tell 'em to piss off and check around the side of the house to make sure no one is trying to break in while I'm at the front door.  I know the way they do things.

Some years ago the council built a little estate of about twenty houses in the village, and a couple of those are occupied by Knackers.  You can tell which ones by the fancy caravans parked in the front gardens [doubtless housing a few more families].  We call the estate "The Court" because that's where some of the residents usually end up.  

As it happened, I had some business in The Court, trying to retrieve some tools that a pal had "borrowed" a year or so ago and I wanted them back.  It was a lovely sunny day so I walked the dog down and headed for the pal's house.

"Hey YOU!"

I wasn't sure whether the shout was directed at me, but I did glance over my shoulder and sure enough there was a little Snot Gobbler Knacker staring at me.  He was about fifty feet away, sitting on a bike he had probably robbed out of someone's garden.  He was only about five or six so I ignored him.

My pal gave me my tools and a mug of tea and eventually it was time to walk home again.

The little Gobbler was still there, waiting patiently for my return.  Fair play to him for his patience.

"Hey YOU!" he yelled again.

I realised I had to pass him on the way out and ignored him again.  I wasn't going to shout.

"Wass your name?" he demanded.

My name is something very personal and precious to me and I don't hand it out lightly to strangers or police.  It's just a little quirk of mine.

"Fred" I told him.

He looked at me somewhat suspiciously presumably trying to work out if I looked like a Fred.

"Are you a Pikey?" he demanded somewhat aggressively.

"I might be and I might not" I replied, wishing he'd go away.

He thought about this for another moment.


"No" I replied, "but I will if you want me to."

He thought about this for another while and suddenly without warning he fucked off without so much as a "goodbye" or a "Cheerio".

I pondered over our little chat as I made my way home.  I had to admire him, taking on a bloke who's well over six foot and ten times his age, not to mention the fact that I had a dog and an armful of heave steel tools.  I also realised that by giving him a noncommittal response to his question I had in effect told him to fuck off even though I hadn't actually told him to fuck off, if you get my drift.

Smart kid.


The New Religion

After the posts and comments of the last couple of days, I have been thinking.

We often hear of the Nanny Staters referred to as "fanatical" and "zealots" and relying on faith over substance, which when you think about it are terms more usually applied to religion.  So my question [to myself] is just how close is the health fanaticism become an actual religion?

For a start, both Puritanism and Religion have the concept of eternal life in common.  While Religion applies this to spiritual eternity, the Puritans seem to believe in physical eternity.  Religion promises that if we obey the tenets of the belief that we will live forever in Heaven, while the Puritans tell us constantly that by not obeying their tenets, we will die physically, often with painful and debilitating consequences which presumably is their concept of Hell.

Religion relies on pure faith.  There is no scientific proof that God exists but equally there is no scientific proof that he doesn't.  Puritanism however is dealing with more physical aspects of life and here they have a problem – people can see smokers, drinkers and the overweight and as physical entities and thus they are subject to examination.  Their way around this little problem is to create a perception in the public's mind that they are the experts and that by providing their own "proofs" they convince the public that theirs is the Devine Word.

The modern version of Puritanism started simply enough.  A small group with a personal distaste for smoking started spreading the word that it was evil.  As soon as they convinced people that it was a "killer" then other acolytes easily joined the movement [“my father died of a heart attack and he smoked so the smoking must have killed him.”  The fact that Dad wes 20 stone overweight was irrelevant].  As the movement grew, so did the power of the Puritans to the point where the science became almost irrelevant and faith alone was sufficient to get people to conform.  The "science" they issue forth these days bears no resemblance to real science but this is irrelevant as the faithful will believe, no matter how ludicrous the "reports".

The success of the Puritans is visible everywhere.  It is impossible to open a magazine these days without seeing someone promoting their own "healthy lifestyle".  Food is advertised as a "healthy alternative".  Joggers and cyclists are everywhere.  Health really is the new religion

Like any religion, once it has gained a sufficient following it can spread its wings.  The problem now is where it is heading.  Having already demonised [and I use the word advisedly] tobacco and is encroaching heavily into the areas of food and drink, what will be next on the target list?  Are we to see compulsory physical exercise?  Will game consoles be outlawed [promoting laziness and God knows what they do the minds of cheeeldren?].  Will they go for the Big One and call for the abolition of the internal combustion engine?

Will they ultimately decide they are a de facto religion and join forces with the Amish so we live without electricity and drive horse and buggies everywhere, promising eternal life in this world and the next?

Thank God I won't be around then!


Avoiding the Naughty Step


Now they are whinging about the poor humble potato.

Everyone knows chips are a dietary no-no. But now experts are warning that eating too much of the humble potato in any form – baked, boiled or as mash – could potentially be bad for our health. Research claims that eating potatoes four times a week could be harmful and contribute to the condition that causes strokes and heart attacks, Britain’s biggest killers.

Chips are a no-no?  Doesn't that expression conjure up fond memories of childhood where Mammy wags the fingers sternly?  "You know performing operations on your sister's dollies is a no-no?  Off to the naughty step with you now."  But then I suppose it's right that if they treat us as kids that we should be spoken to in the same manner?

I'm not particularly pushed about potatoes and certainly can't tell a Rooster from a King George.  As chief cook and bottle-washer here in the Manor I can state with authority that I very rarely cook spuds.  Chips yes, on a fairly regular basis, but the ony time I tend to use spuds is in a stew.  I can also say with complete authority [without any “could” or “potentially”] that I have every intention of forgetting the above pathetic little bit of arse dribble as soon as I press the Publish button.

I often wonder at the public reaction to these "studies".  Are there people who are so gullible and insecure that they actually suck up all this rubbish?  Do they frantically scan the morning papers and keep a ledger of all the things they must or must not eat?  Potatoes allowed only four times a week?  Dolmio sauce allowed ony once a week?  No sugar?   No salt?  Must use more Hummus?  Oh no – careful of the Hummus because it may contain salt?  Can't touch breakfast cereals as they contain half a ton of sugar?  A decent fry fo breakfast is a HUGE no-no because of all those cancers lurking under the rashers?

Life must be pretty miserable for them.  Every day their eating habits are becoming more and more restricted.  No alcohol or tobacco.  Can't use the car because everyone knows that you'll be killed in the first half mile.  Kids aren't allowed out in case they are kidnapped, raped or murdered.  Can't go out themselves in case someone is smoking in the adjoining street.  Can't stay in because there is a mobile phone mast only three miles away and God knows what that's doing to their brains. 

Life must be a constant turmoil of anxiety, not knowing what could be harmful and contribute to the condition that causes strokes and heart attacks?

All that stress can't be good for the heart?

It could lead to a stroke or heart attack.


Finian McGrath and the House of Cards

It's funny how one thing leads to another.

I was scanning around all the articles about Finian McGrath and his call for a drop of tolerance and reason in a world gone crazy over health. 

One fascinating fact that emerged from all my reading was that according to the Irish Cancer Society, 4,000 lives have been "saved" since 2004.  Now this figure rang a little bell of familiarity so I delved into history.  Sure enough I discovered that back in 2013, 3,726 lives had been saved since 2004.  A remarkably close match?  So either the smoking ban no longer works, or else they are making up the figures?  That couldn't possibly be the case, could it?

I started researching this interesting phenomenon and accidentally put the wrong search terms into the Google thingy and it gushed forth the figures for the numbers killed by passive smoking.  According to the sites I found, 3000 seems to be the favourite figure, be it the old U S of A, France or Czechoslovakia.  I can only assume we are killing 3000 a year here also?

Anyhows, back to McGrath.

The comments naturally were mostly of the "I wish all smokers would burn in hell" type as they a egged each other into a frenzy of smoker hating.  A poll in The Journal says that three quarters of respondents are against ant easing which I suppose is to be expected [I wonder how many of them frequent their pub?].

I have to [almost] admire the Anti-Smokers for their invention of Second Hand Smoke.  It is a stroke of mad genius to be able to turn three quarters of society against the minority on the basis of an imaginary threat?  And the "lives saved" line is equally ingenious as no one can disprove it.  It's akin to my saying I haven't killed ten people today – utterly meaningless but with an underlying hint that I kill ten people every other day? 

One of these days [though I doubt it will be in my lifetime alas], people are going to wake up to the scam.  And when they do, the entire house of cards will come crashing down.  If secondary smoke is harmless then the only argument for the ban is to make people's clothes smell better.

As soon as I heard about it, I knew McGrath's quest for a modicum of tolerance was a waste of breath.  The Anti-Smokers have turned normally rational people into a rabid mob who see smoking as the greatest threat to their precious lives.  They have created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred and that isn't going to end any time soon, so McGrath might as well save his breath.

But at least he gave me something to write about?



Expanding the debate

I had an interesting conversation yesterday.

It would properly have been called a debate, but it was on Twitter and I quickly discovered that Twitter is fuck all use for debating, as well as everything else.  How the hell can you expand on a topic when you are hamstrung to 140 letters?

It all started when a chap who follows me [and I follow him] posted a Tweet about Finian McGrath and his call for designated smoking areas in pubs and bars.  Unfortunately the article was behind a paywall, but it was soon picked up by the Irish Times

My friend [I’ll call him Bob for the sake of the exercise] said:

"Daft, dangerous and irresponsible".

Now I'm not the argumentative sort and I am absolutely crap at debating but in a fit of madness I replied:

"As distinct from sensible, tolerant and giving adults the right to choose?"

The reply when it came surprised me a bit:

"right to choose what ? Country is better since smoking ban came in. And will be better as smoking eliminated."

Now here is where the limitations of Twitter come into play.  The concept of a whole country being better intrigued me but naturally had to reply in shorthand:

"How is country better? The ban hasn't changed a thing apart from many pub closures and forcing many into isolation?"

Now Bob chose to deflect that slightly but that is his prerogative:

"becomes socially less acceptable to smoke. Leads to less smoking. Name a person who'd EVER want their child to smoke".

Which doesn't really answer why the country should be better off and just raises the question as to why being "less acceptable" should be a good thing.  I was frankly a bit disappointed at the "cheeeldren" card being played so early in the game and decided to ignore it as doubtless it would be played again.  I replied:

"Who determines what is "acceptable"? Smacks of gross intolerance to a minority."

The reply was prompt enough:

"jaysus intolerance to a minority. You can still smoke. You just can't poison other people"

Wow!  I can still smoke?  Yes I can, provided I pay massive taxes and stand out in the rain?  That's akin to saying that immigrants are welcome provided they live in tents on Achill Island.  And as for the "poisoning other people" bit, I could write essays on that, but once again my hands are tied by Twitters limitations.  I decided to throw a wobbler:

"Grew up in an age of tolerance where smoking was rife. No one died from SHS. That's a scam to scare non-smokers."

Again I got a swift response:

"grew up in an age where had to put up with smoking. Glad its over. Lot less first hand smokers now too. Thats also a good thing"

In my early days people didn't "have to put up with" anything.  They hadn't been taught to hate smokers so they accepted it as a perfectly normal thing.  But there is a new question here – why should a non-smoker [I’m taking a wild guess that Bob is a non-smoker?] be "glad it's over"?  Why would he be glad that there are a lot less non-smokers?  Could it be that he is glad that people are being forced into his viewpoint?  Could it be that he is delighted that people who chose a lifestyle different from his should be forced against their will to conform to his ideology?  I decided to address that little question head on:

"Why is it a good thing for me to quit? [for example]"

Sadly he didn't answer that one which is a great pity.  He played he "cheeeldren" card instead:

"have grandkids? Do you want them to smoke ?"

Now that card pisses me off.  They love to use the kids as moral hostages and he still hadn't answered my question so I replied:

"Daughter smokes. Her choice as an adult. Up to her to bring up her kids. Why do you want me to quit?"

The reply:

"I don't really care if you quit. I just don't want other people to start a dangerous addictive habit. Fewer that do the better"

So he is delighted that people are quitting but doesn't care if I do?  I find that a bit strange?  And why does he care?  Why is he so concerned about what other people do?  Why is it any of his business?  I didn't want to be rude so I decided not to ask the last question directy but to hit it in a roundabout way:

"What about other "dangerous" things such as sports? Are they acceptable?"

I was saddened by his reply as it missed the point entirely:

"never seen swimming or tennis as that dangerous"

Before I could reply, I got another:

"and 90% of people begin smoking before they're adults so there's that too"

In fact a lot of people die from drowning each year and while tennis is relatively safe, I would like to know his opinion on Rugby or Boxing for example, but here again I am retrained by Twitter's limitations.  Anyway, we are back on the cheeeldren card again, are we?  I can only assume that Bob's distaste for smoking is to prevent kids from taking it up?  I replied

"But the law already says they are not allowed so what's point of new laws? And sports injuries are a big thing."

He replied:

"because they've brought smoking down from 30% of population to 20% of population since 2003. And thats a good thing."

Now he still doesn't explain why this is a "good thing".  I really wanted to know why he cares so much.  He sneers at the suggestion of intolerance to a minority yet is delighted when that minority is forced into the majority viewpoint.

I had one last shot at reason:

"Smoking was in decline anyway. No law since 2003 has changed the rate of decline."

He never replied so presumably he was getting tired of me.  That was fine by me as I was getting tired of me too.

I would love to have expanded further.  I would love to have debated the Enstrom & Kabat study.  I would loved to have discussed the Nanny State Index, and how the worst nannying has no bearing on smoking rates.  I would love to have asked him how the gubmint would make up the enormous shortfall if they lost all tobacco revenue. 

Most of all though, I would love to know why one person apparently hates smokers so much.