The Functional Minimum

As I was writing last night about pill poppers, I remembered a conversation I’d once had with my father many, many years ago.

We were living in the Gambia in West Africa. And I was six years old. And we were talking about food, and I’d just declared that in the future food would come in the form of tablets. And my father asked if I was really sure about that.

“Wouldn’t you like there to be big plates of eggs and bacon and sausages and beans and toast?” he asked, conjuring up the image of a sumptuous dish.

“No!” I replied very firmly, shaking my head vigorously. And my father looked surprised and disappointed. Because my father loved food, and he particularly loved eggs and bacon.

But then for me, at age six, eating was just a chore. I had better things to do than sit at a table eating, particularly if a lot of the food consisted of vegetables that I didn’t like: I had important games to play outside in the garden with my battleship fleets.

For me, eating was something that had to be done, and the sooner it could be got over and done with, the better. And in many ways, 62 years later, my attitude to food remains much the same. I want fast food. And if I’m cooking for myself, I want the cooking done in 15 – 20 minutes or less. I’m no sort of gourmand. I don’t linger over my food, savouring each mouthful, or anything like that.

And I was thinking last night, after I’d posted up The Pill Poppers, that maybe antismokers had a similar attitude. They didn’t enjoy food. And they didn’t enjoy drink. And maybe they didn’t enjoy anything. When they went to a restaurant they just wanted a plate of edible food placed in front of them as quickly as possible, for them to eat as quickly as possible, so that they could leave as quickly as possible. And they didn’t want to have to endure music tinkling in the background, or anyone’s conversation, or (least of all) anyone’s smoke. And they had the same attitude to any bar or cafe. They went there to get something non-alcoholic to drink, and they wanted it as quickly as possible, so that they could drink it as quickly as possible, and leave as quickly as possible. For them restaurants should just sell food, and bars should just sell drink, and that’s all they should do.

But when I go to a bar, I usually want to stay as long as possible. I want to listen to the music, and hear snatches of conversation, and catch the odours of food and perfume and smoke. And I’ll linger as long as I possibly can over a beer and a few cigarettes (or at least I used to). And I won’t want to leave. Because I don’t actually go to bars to drink. I can do that at home. I go for the companionship and the conversation and the music and the pool games and everything else. The drink is almost irrelevant.

In many ways, what the antis are doing is to strip pubs and restaurants down to their functional minimum. Once they’ve got smoking banned, they’ll next want alcohol banned, and music banned, and conversation banned. They’ll ban everything which is irrelevant to the core function of pubs and restaurants – selling food and drink. In one essay by Michael Siegel, years ago, he mounted exactly this argument against smoking in bars and restaurants. The core function of a bar or restaurant, he wrote, wasn’t to provide a smoky atmosphere, so why should it be allowed? At the time I remember thinking that the core function didn’t include music or candles or conversation or newspapers or chess games, so why should they be allowed either? But he was solely fixed on smoking.

The antis strip away the unnecessary. And that’s why modern architecture is devoid of ornament. It’s not part of the core function of a building to have caryatid columns or elaborate friezes showing prancing horses and gods and heroes – so it’s all stripped away by the architectural modernist antis, who’ve been in command for 100 years.

But when all the inessentials have been stripped away, the end result may be strictly functional, but it’s usually also cold and barren and heartless. Maybe there isn’t any “core function” of anything? Maybe everything is multi-functional? Or has no “function” at all?

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to The Functional Minimum

  1. garyk30 says:

    Nor do they want any sense of nationality or culture.

    All must be formless and everyone must be void of any individual character.

    Joyless conformity will be their norm.

    This is not the sort of future to face without a lot of alcohol.

    I should send them a thank you note for driving me to drink.

  2. Just picturing the functional minimum of government: having all the congresscritters ‘n parliamentripuppies locked in a basement shoveling money into a huge burning furnace…..

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      With over 8 gazillion dollars worth of debt in the derivatives market you can well bet burning won’t even get rid of it all!

  3. cherie79 says:

    Such a shame that the current generation will never know the fun of meeting new people and having such great conversations in a local pub over a drink and cigarette. When my husband was alive we met so many interesting people from a Cambridge professor to an alcoholic and had some superb conversations covering everything and anything. I am never in pubs now except for a meal and that only the summer when I can sit outside. Makes me sad for a lost world but glad at least I enjoyed it.

  4. Timothy Goodacre says:

    We must defy all smoking bans. ASH et al hate pubs. We smokers love them.

  5. waltc says:

    The gourmets complain that the whiff of cigarette smoke ruins the subtle and divine commingling of garlic and pesto with a soupcon of thyme.

    The bar scene here is mostly the very or slightly-aging young in search of a fast hookup, no conversation needed–or even possible–in the din of the blaring music, tho by the looks of it, none of them have very much to say. Partly, I suppose, that’s generational, but partly too because smokers are talkers and the smoking bars are gone. No smoking bars are also, it seems, no talking bars. I too recall the smoky, sawdusty places where friendships or at least acquaintances were made overbsecond and third rounds, and the dark. quiet, candle-lit restaurants where we talked our way cleverly into somebody’s bedroom or maybe somebody’s life.

    • garyk30 says:

      I doubt that most ‘gourmands’ can cook and they most likely think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

  6. garyk30 says:

    Amusing how nannies go to so much excessive time and effort to achieve their goal of there being so little.

  7. garyk30 says:

    And, of course, there must be total conformity of actions and speech.
    That is, all must be ‘politically correct’.

    But, what does that term mean?

    Seems to me, that would mean what words and actions are correct for politicians.

    Well, most people trust few politicians and admire then even less.

    That being true, why are politicians actions and speech being used as a standard for the rest of us?

    If anything, we should strive to not be like politicians in word and deed.

  8. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    “The drink is almost irrelevant”

    That ties in nicely with an adage of Grandpa’s (a publican of note) that I have posted over on Mudgie’s blog a couple of times: “the publican who thinks his business is selling beer, deserves to go tits up. Breweries and Off licences sell beer, public houses (the clue is in the name) sell ‘houseness’ ” ie they sell that feeling you describe of wanting to be there, or ‘at home’.

  9. smokingscot says:

    I’m not sure if they enjoy them, but they do seem to pamper themselves gastronomically whenever they have one of their conferences – and they have an awful lot of those.

    Some time back one of your commentators posted the menu for their COP in Moscow and it was designed to flatter, to impress and – perhaps – to reinforce their belief that they are extremely important people.

    Mr. Puddlecote brought to our notice that Mr. Black is going to attend a tobacco control conference in Turkmenistan. I suspect (as he normally does) he’ll be flying first class and while the portion sizes are quite modest in that class, there are usually four courses at least.

    Of course these banquets have more to do with being seen, for networking and exchanging business cards. And they do go on for such a very long time. However there does seem to be an attempt by each host country to try to outdo each other, with the very best of local cuisine on offer to their honoured guests.

    And let’s be candid about it, the post of head of the WHO does still command respect. The lady concerned may be thoroughly incompetent, however she’s there in part because of Political Correctness – (basically the Chinese pretty well demanded she get the job). So yes it does help to pander to the Lady and her assembled groupies.

    She does have a significant budget and Turkmenistan would love for her to use her clout to upgrade facilities organise exchanges and of course to arrange for suitable contracts to go to the right people. She’s pretty good at that sort of thing. Actually she just loves being fussed over.

    Anyway her Ladyship’s tenure as boss lady of the WHO comes to an end next year, so best to suck up to her while there’s time to line pockets.

    (not a live link as 3’s too many, so copy & paste)

    My casual observations lead me to believe the Tobacco Control lot do rather enjoy this sort of shindig. And it is so terribly important to have a photo of yourself in close proximity to Margaret Chan or whomsoever happens to be the doyen of Tobacco Control at the time. It doth so impress the peasants.

    In that sense Mr. Black will undoubtedly be the one who is sought out by the smaller bit players, seeing as the United Kingdom has won accolades for several years for their “progress” in reducing the amount of tobacco sold through legitimate sources.

    Yes they do rather value these little things. And the medals they award each other. In fact Stephen Williams was gifted one a couple of years back on account of his valiant efforts to ban tobacco displays.

    But the very best of all has to be an MBE! By the use of said Stephen as well as a whole bunch of Lords, Ladies, Peers and such, Andrea Crossfield & Fiona Andrews were awarded them toward the end of 2014.

    Anyway I’m reasonably sure one or more of them will tweet or facebook the menu for the next COP to be held in New Delhi. I await the decadence, self-indulgence, conspicuous consumption and the wanton waste that will be there for the chosen few.

    • Rose says:

      “The Sunday Express can reveal the dinner gala, held last Monday, offered delegates Salmon carpaccio with cucumber tartar, Salmon as the main course, Vitello Tonnato beef with tuna fish sauce, Red caviar, Scallop with white wine sauce, a fish late of smoked halibut, smoked sturgeon, eel mix; Smoked eel, and Salmon under white syrup with flying fish caviar.”

      • smokingscot says:

        “Flying Fish Caviar”. As I say:

        decadence, self-indulgence, conspicuous consumption and the wanton waste

        (how many flying fish does one have to kill to get a decent spoon full of the creatures’ eggs?)

  10. Clicky says:

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    “History of Smoking Bans;”
    1575-1973, and “Bans And Restrictions in Nazi Germany”'s+All+Light+Up!

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    ‘World No Tobacco Day’, first ‘celebrated’ by the World Health Organization in 1987 is “intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe.” (Wiki)

    Presumably because tobacco smoking is bad for you.

    But is it really?

    Certainly, it is not for everyone. And yet, in the face of outlandish claims by ‘health experts’ since the second half of the 20th century, many enjoy smoking and have benefited from it.

    So let’s get the facts straight.

    The alleged dangers of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) are entirely fictional.

    Smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is even some anecdotal evidence that it protects against lung cancer.

    Smoking can protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and it can reduce the psychiatric, cognitive, sensory, and physical effects of schizophrenia.

    And the children? One study conducted in Sweden observed two generations of Swedish children and found that children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, eczema, and food allergies.

    In fact, the health benefits of smoking tobacco appear to extend way beyond all that.

    A search of the database brings up more evidence, evidence that is either misunderstood because most researchers begin from the inculcated belief that smoking is evil (how scientific!), or because it is simply ignored when it doesn’t fit into their perception of the world.

    When we connect the dots through medicine, science, history, psychology and sociology, the truth emerges plain as day: the all-out global propaganda campaign against tobacco is part of the same push for ‘full-spectrum dominance’ over humanity in all other spheres. The targets and victims of the fake ‘War on Terror’ are the same targets of the war against tobacco. We are expected to believe that our wonderful ‘leaders’ encourage us to eat poisonous GMO food yet are oh, so concerned about the alleged health effects from smoking? Give us a break!

    And so, in the spirit of resistance against the psychopaths’ war on humanity, liberty and true health… Let’s All Light Up!

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