The death of a trade

I little while ago I mentioned a bit about my misspent youth.

Actually, I mentioned it over six years ago.  Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

Basically the gist of my reminiscences was that I drank quite a lot.  Weekends had but one function and that was to down the pints.  Great craic.

I remember [most of] those weekends well, and they all had one thing in common – the packed pubs.  The order of the day was to start drinking early or you had fuck all chance of getting a seat let alone a table and a few chairs where a group could sit.  If you were a regular then ordering a round was easy.  You just waited to catch the barman's eye and that was that.  If you weren't a regular you had to fight your way to the bar and then wait patiently while the barman served everyone else but you.

I mentioned that I was in a pub last Friday.  I mentioned it wasn't my regular, which is small and friendly and shunned by a lot of the village.  This pub is more your modern Irish pub with televisions everywhere, piped music, no smoking, dark and full of chrome and glass.

We arrived there around nine.  It's a big place and was full of empty seats.  I would say there were around ten people at the most.  We went out the back where they generously provide very uncomfortable steel chairs for those of us who like a pipe with our pint.

At intervals, I went back into the pub for an order or a piss.  Two people!  Not the same two people [they must take shifts?] but from around ten 'til midnight there was never more than two people in the entire vast lounge.  And this was a Friday night?

I went back the next evening to see if my pipe had turned up [it hadn’t] and once again the place was almost empty – no more than ten at the most and the staff were just hanging around, picking their fingernails and staring at the silent flickering television screens.  And this was now Saturday night?  The traditional night for a pint?

Pints haven't increased that much since the seventies, relatively speaking.  They still cost an arm and a leg so there's nothing new there.  Some will blame cheap drink from the supermarkets, but unless you like gnat's piss beer the prices aren't that hectically cheap, and anyway drinking at home isn't for those who like to socialise.  Others will say it's the clamp down on drink driving.  Possibly that would deter some but not an entire pubfull?  Still more will blame the recession, but that's a load of bollox.  The decline started before the peak of the boom years.

It's strange though how the massive decline in pubs started at a particular time?  It started in early 2004, long before the crash of '08.

I wonder what the hell happened to cause that?



Inside the mind of a psychotic

I came across a website a day or two ago.

It gave me a good laugh and I played with it for a long time – at least ten seconds – before getting bored with it.

Now we are all familiar with the concept of searching for a shop that sells an item which we wish to purchase.  The Interweb is awash with sites that will find your desired item and point you to the nearest and/or cheapest retailer.

The site I came across does the opposite.

This site tells you where you can’t buy something, namely tobacco.

The site is interesting from two different aspects.

If I want to buy a packet of cornflakes for example, where do I go?  I go to a shop that sells cornflakes presumably.  It doesn’t matter a damn to me if they also sell butter as I don’t need butter and I shall just pass by that aisle.  So why on earth would I go online to find a shop that specifically sells cornflakes but not butter? 

The most interesting aspect of the site though is that it gives a glimpse into the twisted deluded mind of the Anti-Smoker Fanatic.

I would hazard a guess that 99.99% of the worlds’ population doesn’t give a flying fuck about smoking, cigarettes of tobacco.  They either smoke or they don’t and the only time anyone actually turns his or her mind to the subject is when he or she is about to light up.  The Fanatics are doing their best to remind everyone of the subject by plastering signs everywhere but they are now so ubiquitous that I doubt anyone even notices them these days.  They are also doing their best to indoctrinate kids with their fanaticism which will indeed increase awareness and more than likely will have the opposite to the intended effect – make kids aware of something and they’ll want to try it out of pure curiosity.

Our Fanatic though seems to spend every waking moment obsessing on the subject and is under the insane illusion that everyone else thinks the same way.

How many people are going to use this site?  How many sane rational people are going to actually go to the trouble to find a shop that doesn’t sell a particular item?

I presume the concept is that shops will suddenly discover a drastic fall off in trade due solely to this website and that they will close their tobacco section in order to reclaim their lost trade?  For this to happen, virtually the entire customer base would have to play the game and by using the website would transfer their shopping elsewhere. 

These people are certifiably insane if they really seriously think that people in their thousands are going to go out of their way to avoid a shop simply because it sells tobacco products.  If the shop down the road sells what you are looking for, are you seriously going to travel to another far less convenient shop just on the basis of a deluded principle?

These people really seriously need some professional help.

What they need is a nice quiet little room with nice soft padded walls. 

Maybe a little tablet or two?

And a cigarette to calm their nerves?

The lost weekend

Every now and then something happens that really pisses me off.

The story of the latest pisser offer started last Friday.  I said I would meet a friend for a few scoops in a pub.

It was not my normal choice of pub and was one of those that doesn’t allow smoking.  So I met my friend and we had several nice pints sitting outside on a little terrace under a warm starry sky, while he talked and I puffed my pipe.  Very pleasant and relaxing.

The daughter said she would give us a lift home and that was just grand.  I sent her a text and packed up my pipe and baccy into my coat pocket.  We brought our empties into the bar and headed outside.  The daughter picked us up, deposited my friend off and then dropped me at my gate.  All fine and dandy.

I let myself in, greeted the dog and Herself and sat down.  Then I realised I had left my pipe in my coat pocket so I went out to the lobby to get it.

No pipe.  No baccy.

My coat pockets were empty and my pipe and baccy pouch had vamoosed.

Now I distinctly remember packing the pouch and pipe in my pocket, but just to be on the safe side I called back to the pub the next morning.  The bloke who had served me wasn’t on duty but they checked behind the bar while I checked the terrace out back.  No pipe.  No baccy.

Later that day I called back and Yer Man was back on duty.  No.  He had cleared up the terrace after we left all right, but no pipe.  No baccy.

I turned the daughters car inside out.  No pipe.  No baccy.

I examined the ground from the gate to the door.  I even checked inside the rubbish bins and under my car.  No pipe.  No baccy.

I have searched everywhere.  They have to be somewhere, unless of course they had accidentally met with an anti-matter pipe and baccy and had mutually annihilated each other but I think I would have noticed that.

I am really pissed off.  That was my favourite pipe, and now I have to send off to France for a replacement, and seeing as the pipes are individually hand made I know the new one won’t be like the lost one.  They are fucking expensive too [but worth the money].  I also have to send off for a replacement pouch.

The worst part about the whole affair is that I am now spending my day examining the floor as I walk.  I know it’s unlikely the pipe could be lying on the floor and that I have stepped over it many times without seeing it, but you can’t be too careful?  I still have that funny feeling though that they will turn up somehow, and they will be somewhere really strange and I shall wonder how the fuck they ended up there.  That has happened before.

The other alternative is that I give up the pipe.


That’ll never happen.




The realistic anarchist

I read a piece over at The Foggy Mirror today.

The piece is well worth a read, and if you are a Tobacco Control Freak it might even provide some good masturbatory material.

However the bit that got me thinking was the Heinlein quote at the end [sorry Mac!] –

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

This more or less sums up my philosophy in a nutshell.

When it comes to the law and rules, there are two main groups out there.

There are those who know that rules can have a sensible place in society [if it were left to the individual to decide which side of the road to drive on, things could get complicated?] and will generally follow the rules.  When those rules become laws than those same people tend to become somewhat more rebellious.  A rule is advice, whereas a law is a command, and as a general rule [!] people of reasonable intelligence don’t like to be ordered around especially when any sane person can see that the rule/law is idiotic and unreasonable.  Or to put it another way, Laws are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.

The other group in society [populated almost exclusively by sheeple] is the group that believes that all rules and laws are there to be obeyed to the letter.  They are the people who for example will wait patiently for the little green man to light up before crossing the road even though there isn’t a car in sight.  It they want to be dictated to by a light bulb then that’s fine, but it isn’t for me.

I remember a couple of incidents a few years ago that happened around the same time.

We were travelling to France on the old Oscar Wilde ferry which, though the pride of Irish Ferries had seen better days.  It was a very windy crossing and at one stage a group of us collected together to go out on deck for a smoke [they had just introduced their Nanny Laws].  There was no way anyone could light a match out in the wind, so we all lit up inside the door and went to go out.  Before we could do so a little Hitler in uniform turned up and started screaming at us that we couldn’t light up inside the ship.  He screamed [no exaggeration] that we were to get outside immediately and no one was to even attempt to light up inside the doorway as that was THE LAW.  I patiently pointed out to him that there were passengers littering the floor lying in sleeping bags, some of whom were lying across the stairs, and that this constituted a real and far greater danger to passengers than a whiff of smoke.  This confused him for a second but he decided that the rules advised people to be careful where they set out their beds but the law said no smoking. We outnumbered him by about twenty to one so we told him to fuck off and had our smokes anyway.

The second incident was on the same ship on the same journey.  I went into the shop the following morning and bought myself ten packs of baccy [they were half price compared to home].  At the checkout, the girl informed me that there was a rule that passengers could only buy two packs at a time.  I asked why, and she said it was just the rule.  I looked at her and she looked at me.  She grinned.  She rang through two packs and I paid.  She rang through two more and I paid.  We did that five times and I got my baccy despite their idiotic fucking rules. 

I contacted Irish Ferries after as I was intrigued by this “two pack” rule.  The response was that it was the rule because it was the rule and that the girl never should have done what she did.  The little twerp never gave an explanation for the rule and was obviously going to apply it even if he didn’t know why, which to my mind is a fairly good definition of a sheep.

The older I get, the fewer laws I obey.  Particularly on the road, I shall drive at a speed which I think is safe and shall park wherever I won’t create an obstruction.  If I want to burn a tree or two in my garden I shall, provided the smoke is blowing away from the neighbours [I’m really quite considerate].  The only reason I won’t smoke in a strange pub is that I don’t want the owner to get into trouble.  Even though I am surrounded by signs telling me to do that or not to do that I ignore them all to the point where they have ceased to register in my consciousness.

When I analyse myself and my philosophies I am a little surprised to discover that I have become quite an anarchist.  I don’t advocate violence [well, not yet anyway] but I no longer recognise the authority of those who would try to impose their laws and standards on me.

It really is very liberating.

Red faces

I have always been a believer in logic with a healthy portion of intuition.

I see these studies cropping up in the meeja and there are times when their findings defy all logic and intuitively I know they are wrong.

Take for example the “studies” which have been flowing out for the last year or so on the topic of e-cigarettes.  Study after study stated that they were “dangerous”, “full of carcinogens” and in some cases were ten times more dangerous than ordinary cigarettes.  We were told that kids were using them and then going on to smoke fags. We were told that they were ineffective for quitting smoking and that the only true path to salvation was through Big Pharma.

Logic and intuition told me that all of this was a steaming pile of bullshit.

Now the Department of Public Health in the UK has come up with the results of their own study.  They have basically spent a fortune discovering what any reasonably intelligent person knew all along.

E-cigarettes are at least 95% “safer” than ordinary cigarettes.

Kids don’t use them as a “gateway” to ordinary smoking.

They have discovered to their horror though that 22% of the population think that electrofags are more dangerous than smoking!  Now how could this possibly be?  How can something harmless be perceived to be so dangerous?  Could it possibly be that that 22% believed all the lies and propaganda that Public Health has been screaming for the last year or so?

I [and many others] have been saying for years that the Tobacco Control Industry has been pumping out lies, obfuscation and propaganda to suit its own ends without regard for the truth or indeed people’s health.  It is a juggernaut that has destroyed so many businesses and in many cases ruined people’s social lives.  It has caused divisions in society and has attempted to stigmatise a fair portion of the public.

My bet is that suddenly we will hear no more “studies” into the harm of e-cigarettes.  All the previous ones will be quietly forgotten.  There will be a lot of backtracking and a lot of “I never said that” or “That’s not what I really meant”.

They were given the rope and they hung themselves.

But why the big turnaround?

Could it be that they realised that their claims sounded foolish in the face of millions of anecdotal stories?  Could it be that they realised that logic and intuition were stacked against their lies “theories”?

Or could it be that they just want e-cigarettes on their side so they can claim the credit for the reductions in smoking?