According to the latest exit polls, the Scottish No vote won by 54% to 46%. But I’ve been thinking about the missing ‘atmosphere’ in pubs since the smoking ban.

When I was about 10 years old, my school was on the top of a hill in Hampshire overlooking Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. On a clear day they were perfectly visible. But on winter days mist would often completely obscure the view, and you couldn’t even see the perimeter fence around the school’s grounds.

And on some days – very rare days – the mist would be so dense that it had become a fog through which you could see barely five yards.

I used to love those foggy days, because when you went out onto the school’s wide lawn, you could get lost in the fog after taking just a few steps into it. And as you wandered around in it, you occupied an intimate, private space all of your own, invisible to anyone, even though you were in the middle of the lawn.

And if one of your school chums should by chance come walking out of the fog, perhaps to ask you where the hell we were, there’d be just the two of you together in that intimate, private space. And the closer you stood together, the more clearly you could see the other’s face, because a yard or two further away they’d become misty outlines.

But if the fog had suddenly lifted, and you could see all the way to Portsmouth again, then all the intimacy and privacy would have vanished.

And I think that this is how the smoky atmosphere in a pub or party or dinner serves to create an intimate and private and cosy atmosphere, and why the fun went out of it all when smoking was banned. As Jax wrote a few days ago:

many of my non-smoking friends have now stopped giving parties at all because (and I quote them here, not my own opinion) “They just don’t seem to be as much fun as they used to be,” before waxing lyrical about how great they used to be, whilst failing completely to put two and two together to draw the obvious conclusion.

It’s not an illusion. It’s a physical effect. Mist or smoke or fog in the air reduces visibility almost as effectively as walls and curtains, and creates cosy, intimate, private spaces. The same sort of thing happens when there’s loud music or conversation. And it serves to push people together, so that you find yourself enjoying the thrill of speaking into the ear of some hot blonde, just to get heard at all.

And it’s probably precisely this intimacy that antismokers don’t like. They don’t want to be pushed together with other people. They want to stay far apart. They want the kind of clear air through which they can see Portsmouth. Because when the fog closes in, they get nervous.

I used to visit Barcelona before the Spanish smoking ban was introduced, and in the district in which I stayed, of about thirty bars and restaurants, just three were non-smoking (and also largely empty of people). And it was probably no accident that all three had entirely banished not just smoking, but also intimacy and privacy. Because they all had huge floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows that rendered them completely transparent to the outside world. And they all had the same brightly-lit open-plan interiors, devoid of private areas or kiosks.

Antismokers don’t seem to like intimacy and privacy, and they don’t want you to have any. Which is why they’ll not just ban smoking in public places, but also private spaces like private cars or homes. Next they’ll want people’s houses to have plate glass walls, and be brightly lit inside. For nothing must be private, and everything must be public.

About Frank Davis

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11 Responses to Fog

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Hey Frank when I hit Rota back in 87 as a Navy Cop the bar owners would send their girls out to snatch us guys up off duty and give us all the free beer and wine we could drink. They did it because they wanted well off duty security in case they had trouble with military folks and the like.

    I gues you could call it a bribe in a way but everybody did for security police much like restaraunts here in the states give free coffee and donuts to cops so they drop in regularly……….its just good business practice.

    But the Bars in Rota were always packed save maybe Monday and Tuesday nites…………..

    OMG I so remember my favorite GF a bartender platinum blonde built like a battleship and ready for action…………….Spanish babes are SWEET!


    • Hello.

      I was a friend and neighbor of the late, great, Harleyrider. He was a good soul that lad, Alas, I knew him well.

      Fortunately, in today’s modern age, and through a little-known loophole in America’s Obamacare system, we have diverted the morgue wagon over to an underground Smoketorium facility where he is currently undergoing intensive Hyperbarismoke therapy. If all goes well he will soon return to his old self and rejoin the battle!

      Smoke On Harley!

      (‘n give thet Spanish gal a kiss fer me!)


      • harleyrider1978 says:

        How do you get a carton of smokes out of your anal cavity……………..your wife lites em off and burns em out!

        Women can be pretty cruel at times.

  2. Back in the 1990s there were a few of those bars in Philly, although most of them still allowed smoking. Us pub regulars called them “fern bars” and joked that the yuppies would try to convert ALL the good ol’ smoky stanky beer dens into their clones.

    Some joke, eh?


  3. beobrigitte says:

    Antismokers don’t seem to like intimacy and privacy, and they don’t want you to have any. Which is why they’ll not just ban smoking in public places, but also private spaces like private cars or homes.

    And after they found that people no longer enjoyed going out, they decided to ‘allow’ (which is something that makes me wonder WHO is in power; the party elected or a bunch of people with rather weird ideas who were too scared to ask the public if it WANTS these weird ideas made law) ‘artificial’ smoke to entice people back?
    A government losing tax income taking measures to recover this lost tax from something else is not going to be very popular.

    Yesterday, for the first time ever, an ?older, pretty much overweight, man with a walking stick shuffled past me to comment that my smoking ‘will put me into hospital’. I smiled and asked : “old age doesn’t?”
    He shuffled off. As I ran past him to catch the train, I gave him a HUGE smile.
    The anti-smoking brigade must be out in full force again?

    I will try and find the time for the translation of Prof. Griesshaber’s blog post – apologies if it takes some time…..

  4. marieengling says:

    And they want a house with a view over the sea …

  5. prog says:

    I think the almost complete loss of atmosphere and fewer regulars is largely down to two factors – smokers were generally more sociable before the ban and, perhaps just as important, non-smokers no longer get a second-hand nicotine hit. Yes, a pub garden full of smokers (and non smoking pals) is better than nothing, but on the rare occasion when all are back inside the buzz dissipates.

    • Yes, the atmosphere is certainly quite different: more of a formal dinner atmosphere than a pub where people might get up to various scurrilous and fun activities leading to later gleeful sinfulness.


      – MJM

  6. Edgar says:

    “Isle of White”? Snowy day, was it … ?

  7. caprizchka says:

    The inability to understand boundaries–personal space, privacy, etc–is, according to the theory of “attachment disorder” an effect of missing or inadequate mother and father figures. In other words, the state is a poor substitute for a mother or father and neither is the intrusive, progressive “church”. Meanwhile, I imagine that the cameras being installed everywhere along with facial recognition software are more effective when there isn’t any smoke even if the atmosphere resembles nothing more than a television advertisement for “fun.” Instead of professional actors, however, the actors are paying for the privilege of pretending to enjoy themselves.

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