From Taking Liberties, where Simon Clark describes how he came to call a Pembrokeshire beach smoking ban as “idiotic” and “bonkers”:
The funny thing is that while the sentiment is 100 per cent accurate, “idiotic” and “bonkers” were put in my mouth by an agency journalist who rang me, listened for 30 seconds, then asked: “Would you say the decision is silly or bonkers?”
I laughed because I knew exactly what he wanted.
And so it came to pass that “bonkers” (not a word I often use) became Forest’s considered response to yet another ban on smoking in the open air.
In truth my private reaction is much stronger but – to answer those who want me to use words like “thugs” and “bullies” – I am of the opinion that overtly aggressive language rarely plays well in the mainstream media. In fact I can almost guarantee Forest wouldn’t get quoted at all if we went down that path.
Nor does it generate support from middle England (or Wales or Scotland). To get people – non-smokers especially – on our side we have to laugh at the absurdity of these petty rules and regulations which are not supported by scientific evidence.
We have to hold them up, not to abuse but to scorn and ridicule.
Calling our opponents “thugs” or worse is unhelpful. They may be wrong, in our eyes, but many tobacco campaigners and politicians are genuinely well-meaning and sincere. (Others aren’t but we’ll deal with them separately.)
The wrong language makes us appear the aggressor, and that’s counter-productive.
I guess it depends who your intended audience is. I’m not writing for the mainstream media; I’m writing for a bunch of angry smokers, most of whom think that these people really are “thugs” and “bullies” (and worse). So thugs and bullies (and worse) they will remain round here.
As for them being “well-meaning and sincere”, I’m sure that most Nazi concentration camp guards sincerely believed they were doing something necessary (and therefore good). But that didn’t detract from the fact that they were actually just thugs and bullies.
I think we are in a state of war with these thugs and bullies. I’m not interested in any dialogue with them. The only thing I’m interested in doing is defeating them, by helping build an opposition that starts with the understanding that these people are thugs and bullies, and need to be stopped.
Anyway, a day or two back, I received a new toy in the form of a Transcend DrivePro 200 dashcam. This morning I mounted on my car windscreen, connected it to my cigarette lighter socket (which has never had a cigarette lighter in it), and took it for a spin. And then uploaded one minute of the journey (to a country pub) to YouTube. It was all very easy.
I went out again at midnight to see if it could see stars in the night sky. It couldn’t.
It can record over two hours of 1080p 30fps footage like the stuff above, and includes a primitive mic. I’m going to get a battery pack, so if I go visit an interesting place (like a castle), I can unmount the dashcam from the windscreen, and wander round with it. Or find a river or pond that I can sit beside for hours (which is the sort of thing I like to do).