Showdown in Stony Stratford

I had hoped, last weekend, to be able to make it to the flashsmoking event in London to mark the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban. In the event, I never found out where it was going to take place, and it seemed to have been cancelled a couple of days beforehand when its principal organiser had to back out.

It was a bit of a relief in some ways. It was going to be rather expensive to take a train all the way to London, just to smoke a couple of cigarettes. They would have been the most expensive cigarettes I’ve ever smoked.

But today I discovered that Stony Stratford, where Dick Puddlecote has at short notice arranged some sort of meeting to protest plans by a local councillor to introduce an outdoor smoking ban, is much nearer than I’d thought it was. It’ll be no trouble at all to drive there and back. It’ll make a perfect day trip.

Apart from Dick Puddlecote, Dave Atherton (whom I met last year) should also be there, as well as Forest’s Simon Clark, and at least 15 others (according to the Facebook page). It seems to be gathering a bit of momentum. I think the idea is to meet up at a pub (The Vaults, opposite the church, between 12pm and 1pm after 11am on Saturday 16th July), and listen to various speeches, have a few beers, smoke a few cigarettes, and maybe wave some placards.

I was rather touched to read that Tom Paine, the author of The Last Ditch blog, was going to drive up from London:

“I have never been a cigarette smoker, but I cannot abide the continuing demonisation of fellow-citizens pursuing a legal activity. If you feel the same, smoker or not, please consider making the effort.”

I felt similar sentiments after reading Patrick Hayes in the newly-launched UK version of the Huffington Post:

“Even if, like me, you don’t smoke, there are important reasons to oppose the smoking ban and attempts to further expand it. The smoking ban is just one example of an increasing trend by the state to interfere in our private choices and restrict the freedom of public spaces. We are perfectly able to make decisions for ourselves and negotiate relationships without the need for laws to do this for us. People should be free to smoke in public spaces, but the government’s nasty habit of creeping petty authoritarianism needs to be stubbed out completely.”

More and more non-smokers – including ones who actually detest smoking – seem to be speaking up for smokers. With smokers in a minority, they’ll need the support of such people if they are to reverse the rising tide of antismoking discrimination.

I’ve never made a placard. Any advice on this (as well as suggestions as to what to write on it) would be very welcome.

Anyway, it’ll all help to keep awakening the swarm. There are well over 1 billion smokers on this planet. That’s about the same as the number of Muslims in the world. Except us smokers are, as everyone knows, homicidal drug addicts whose very touch is lethal, and thus the very last people anyone in their right minds would want to mess with.

About Frank Davis

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8 Responses to Showdown in Stony Stratford

  1. Frank, re placards: Remember you’re making them largely for a TV screen. 3 to 5 big words is best! 6 to 10 on a larger placard MIGHT be acceptable if you think the message is such that passersby will read it before their eyes skip to the purty gal standing next to you or the TV cams will actually focus in on it to say “According to one of the loony demonstrators’ signs, “Deborah Arnott Is a Big Fat Evil Rhymes With Witch!” along with an appropriate graphic.

    But the 3 to 5 words is best! And if you’ve got the materials, makea couple extra with different things on them for the folks who won’t have any. Lots of placards always make an event look larger and better supported, and a variety of home-made signs drive home the point that this is not a Big Tobacco Corporate Event.

    Finally, pay attention to whatever kooky rules they’ve got about how big the signs can be, what they can be made of, etc etc: no point putting effort into things that’ll get yanked from you by the police. Have funz ‘n best o’ luck! I’ll be widdye in spirit!


    • alanx says:

      How about putting the slogan LEGALISE FREEDOM on a placard?

      First heard of it mentioned being seen painted on a wall in Paris.

  2. Ed says:

    How about:-


    The SS being Stony Stratford.

    • Frank Davis says:

      So far as I know, there’s just one councillor who wants this ban. So it’s him who’s the nazi round there at the moment. So in my view, only if Stony Stratford council votes it through would it become appropriate to refer to SS that way (although The Last Ditch already has, more or less).

  3. Gary K. says:

    How about:

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  4. Rose says:

    I have to say that our High Street is spotless.

    The council took the opportunity to redesign the street and line it with cast iron litter bins painted in glossy black to match the new crossing railings, with a shiny chromed cigarette stubber on the top and a gilded crest on the side, for the benefit of the shop keepers and their staff.
    No matter how much the previous government may have tried, we don’t do public humiliation round here.

    It’s almost impossible to park there any more, but take the thought for the deed.

    • churchmouse says:

      Hello, Rose — Congrats to your local council!! They have smoker-friendly litter bins in France, too — everyone uses them. I saw very few dog-ends on the streets. Of course, France does have the street-cleaners out promptly every morning between 6 and 7 a.m. They also sweep and wash down the pavements … Meanwhile, our council has the £75 fine notice placard on our recycling lorries now (the fine for dropping a cigarette on the pavement) but we have few cigarette grates on the litter bins.

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