The Dispossessed

I experienced the smoking ban, when it came, as dispossession. Once (in fact the day before) my local pub had been mine, and I was greeted by name every day, very often with a pint of lager waiting on the bar for me as I walked in. I even had my own table, where I was accustomed to sit, newspaper spread before me.

And then one day I was dispossessed. The pub ceased to be my pub, and became other people’s, although the other people never came. Thereafter I always sat outside, like a man dispossessed of his house, but still sitting on its doorstep.

And, ten years later, I still feel as dispossessed as I did on the day that first found myself sitting outside my local pub.

But this sort of dispossession must be a very common experience. One day you’re the owner of a house, and the next day someone else is living in it. One day you’re a trusted manager in some company, and the next day you’re fired. One day you’re the president or prime minister of some country, and the next day you’ve been ousted. It happens all the time.

Brexit was a dispossession. The EU was dispossessed of Britain, and many Britons felt dispossessed from the EU. But it was also a repossession. “They took back their country,” said Donald Trump approvingly, as he watched from Scotland. And that was also quite true.

It’s the same now in the USA. Donald Trump no doubt sees himself as repossessing America for the Americans. But at the same time the US left-liberal establishment has felt dispossessed. Particularly since they thought it was their country, and that Hillary Clinton was going to be its next President. It was “her turn,” just like Bill Clinton said. She fully expected to be President. She felt entitled to the Presidency.

Half of America is feeling just like I did on 1 July 2007, sitting outside the River: dispossessed.

There’s another dispossession about to take place, I believe. And that is that alarmist climate scientists are about to be dispossessed of NASA, the EPA, and other organisations which they took ownership of some 20 or 30 years ago. They’re all going to find themselves sitting outside, dispossessed. They’ll complain just as bitterly as any of the other dispossessed. They’ll say it’s the beginning of a dark age in which Science has been subverted.

I suspect that one day the healthists and antismokers in the medical profession will also find that they have been dispossessed of their status. They took over the profession in the 1980s or 1990s, and they no doubt think that they own it. But one day they’ll find that their desks have been cleared, and the contents stuffed in cardboard boxes, and left outside the door for them to collect. And as pubs and restaurants fill up again with smokers, they’ll complain that it’s the Death of Medicine.

Pablo Picasso was Spanish, but after the Spanish civil war he never returned to Spain. He lived for most of his life in the south of France, not far from Spain. And most likely he felt dispossessed, as did many of his fellow countrymen. They had become exiles from their home country. There are exiles of this sort all over the world, exiled from one country or other, very often with old flags of a lost country hung above the hearth, surrounded by mementos of a lost era.

Most likely, every time any political party loses power, the losers always feel dispossessed. And the winners are the dispossessed who are gleefully repossessing their rightful possessions. For in the matter of possession, someone is always being dispossessed as someone else repossesses. For every winner, there is a loser. Or for every loser, there’s a winner.

Except in the case of smoking bans, the dispossessed smokers were not replaced by a new breed of non-smokers gleefully repossessing what they had once been dispossessed of. The River’s smoking clientele were not replaced by a non-smoking clientele. The River instead became a restaurant, with its bars and stools as surplus to requirement as the altars and chapels in a church which has been converted into stables.  It may as well have become a bowling alley or a snooker club.

All life is perhaps a cycle of dispossession and repossession. One day one flag is raised on the flagpole, the next day another.

There used to be a time when English football ruled the world. But it’s been 50 years since England won the World Cup, and England’s flag waved above the stadium. 50 years on, England fans still feel dispossessed.

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About Frank Davis

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36 Responses to The Dispossessed

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Dispossessed ya I’ve felt that way for the last 20 years since Clinton.

    We grew up with real country music confederate flag waving NASCAR
    Smoking everywhere . We took our guns any place in the back window of our trucks

    Yet nobody ever got shot well much compared to today it’s literally dodge city
    In every big city in America but today you carry a gun for self protection as much as the simple fact it’s your right, yet we still don’t go around shooting people!

    We joked about everything happy go lucky until one day we wake up and find
    Smoking outlawed us kicked to the curb, us the law abiding element of the fabric of society suddenly criminals for no reason and when we heard the reason everyone laughed!

    So began the 10 year long fight against them those who tried the world order
    Those who took our freedom and created a sector of society who hate simply to hate.

    If their the complete losers then Great because I want us to be complete winners/ processors again and these losers/dispocessed can go hide again for another
    One hundred years! Now where’s my gun and smokes!

  2. Frank, interesting you speak of ‘depossession’ , when the Verbot came I didn’t feel depossessed, at least not in that sense-my feeling of depossession came later. I felt ANGER at the spinelessness of the Pub trade and deep bemusement that any businessman might think pissing off a large chunk of his clientèle was a sound move. But your comment ties in with something Granddad Dwarf used to say.
    I have said elsewhere, Mudgie’s gaff I think, that Granddad Dwarf was a publican of some note , whom the breweries would parachute in to save/turn around failing Pubs. Yes even back then some pubs failed but back then Big Beer was less inclined to ditch a failing pub and Tescos hadn’t yet started it’s conquest of British retail. An isolated crossroads country pub who had lost it’s vibrant passing trade after they built an actual proper ‘A’ road, the London dock pub beset with all the problems of the closure of the docks.
    Granddad Dwarf was wont to say :” The publican who thinks his business is selling beer, deserves to go bankrupt! Breweries sell beer, supermarkets sell beer, Offies sell beer. Public Houses-the clue is in the name, in the word ‘house’ , young Dwarf- sell ‘homeliness’ ” . He meant a feeling of being ‘at home’, of feeling comfortable (not the same as ‘sitting in comfort’) , of belonging. Or as you put it ‘of having a stake, ‘ownership’ of the place.
    As to my own feeling of ‘depossession’ that came later and was a feeling of having been ‘decitizenized’. The country of my youth had exiled me. Not to the out doors- having married a ‘smoking allows demons to enter your soul’ anti-smoking Xian I have always smoked outside the flat- but that THEY had taken away my ‘Heimat’ (that’s a German word which doesn’t translate into English but means something like ‘home land’).
    When I first went to live in Germany at the end of the 80s , one of the first differences I noticed was that England ran on , what I understand to be, “Common Law”. The premise that if something isn’t expressly forbidden then it is allowed. Germany was a ‘Norman’ or ‘Roman’ Law place and the exact opposite, that unless a thing is expressly allowed then it is forbidden. The other big difference was the concept of the State’s power ending at the front door. As an Englishman my home was my castle- there’s that word again ‘home’. BY introducing the smoking ban, by taking away the rights of Publicans to run their homes as they saw fit ,Blair not only dispossessed you of your ‘home from home’ but me of the tolerantish, liberalish country I was born in (actually i don’t think the British were ever a more ‘tolerant’ race than,say, Continentals- we just have better manners …and, so long as it doesn’t scare the horses or sour the milk, generally couldn’t give a rat’s arse what someone else does in their shed).

    Maybe that’s also why i feel so strongly that smoking Brexiteurs have betrayed me and all other smokers. A final betrayal -when the betrayed start to betray their fellow betrayed.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Dispossessed, not ‘depossessed’. I don’t think there’s any such word as that.

      a feeling of having been ‘decitizenized’.

      Yes, I felt that too, of course. But, as I have said, I remain English. I’m just no longer part of ‘their’ society.

      I don’t think that smoking Brexiters betrayed me. Yes, maybe tobacco will be more expensive outside the EU, but the price of tobacco isn’t my primary concern. My opinion is pretty much like Junican’s: there is no way to change EU legislation, but it is possible to change UK legislation. Only if we get our country back will we be able to repeal the smoking ban. But we’ll also have to quit the WHO and withdraw from the FCTC and maybe a few other things as well. Then we might have a chance.

      I don’t feel terribly betrayed by other smokers. I think they’re a pretty apathetic bunch, who don’t think there’s anything they can do about the smoking ban (mostly because there is actually very little they can do). The people I feel betrayed by are the Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted for it, and whom I’ll never forgive.

      I remain convinced (and always have been) that we’ll get our pubs back one day. I’m just not sure whether I’ll live to see it.

      • Dispossessed, not ‘depossessed’ Now i feel betrayed… by Spellcheck!
        but the price of tobacco isn’t my primary concern.
        Nor is it mine, it is just one of many measures an UK Government ‘freed’ from EU oversight will introduce, and probably start off the new anti-smoker campaign. Taking away the kids of smokers, having to have a smoking licence etc will all follow.

    • Tony says:

      Here is a specific example of the anti-smoking nature of the EU. Definitely something everyone should be aware of:
      The 1st World Conference Against Prohibition: “Smoking Bans and Lies” was prohibited by the EU.
      http://www.antiprohibition.org/ticap_pages.php?q=6

      • Tony, one doesn’t have to go very far, nor back that far, to find examples of Brussel’s anti-smoker stance. Don’t think i have ever claimed that the EU was pro-smoker rights. It isn’t and chances are will never be. However the rest of 27 Sovereign nations seem to be far more relaxed than us about imposing the draconian measures that the British government already has. Was it only last month or so that the country, or part of it, formerly known as Czechoslovakia finally passed a smoking ban?

        However, that isn’t the point, the ‘EU’ or rather the ECHR etc are very pro Human Rights as Mistress May found to her cost when she tried to get that Hook Handed nutjob sent back whence he came.
        There was a smoker, whose name escapes me atm, who was trying to take the yUK Government to the ECHR for loss of his social life since the ban. Whilst i doubt he would have gotten very far, the fact he felt he could speaks volumes.
        When UK Social Services remove the first child from Smoking parents, for smoking within a 2 mile radius of said child (or in Social Worker jargon “Child Abuse”) then the one place the parents might, just might, have found justice would have been the ECHR.
        BTW if you think i’m exaggerating the danger post Brexit there was a finding in Scotland recently that basically said one of the hallmarks of abusive parents was they smoked in front of the child.

        • jaxthefirst says:

          To be honest, BD, both the UK and EU parliaments are so stuffed to the gills with swivel-eyed anti-smokers, almost to a man, that I honestly can’t see the EU ever standing up on behalf of smokers against any restrictions proposed by the UK government (or any other European government, for that matter), even were we to stay in. They certainly haven’t done it in the past, and there’s no reason to think that they’d do it in the future. It’s perhaps the only thing that, Brexit or no Brexit, they remain in complete agreement on! Smokers and smoking remains the “blind spot” that no-one in the corridors of power in either the UK or the EU will admit to having, precisely because that blind spot is there deliberately. It isn’t that they can’t see the way smokers’ rights are being contravened on a daily basis or the way that the anti-smoking movement has morphed into a mass-bullying exercise – they don’t want to see it. The words “except for smokers” is never stated, but it’s always there, whenever any Big Cheese – whether of the British or European variety – talks about “everyone” or “all of society” or “the community” or any other such all-encompassing soundbite.

          Ditto with European (and UK) legislation. For sure, there are EU safeguards for all sorts of things that many minorities may feel we could lose by leaving, and they may well be right, but although in theory some of those safeguards could be used to protect the rights of people who choose to smoke tobacco, we all know that in practice they never will be, because from the point of view of those who run both the EU and the UK political machines, smokers are the useful, but nonetheless unspoken, “exceptions” to every rule. Courts at every level have been left in no doubt that “finding for the smoker” in any case connected with smoking isn’t allowed, regardless of what the law says, so that every smoker in the land knows full well that it’s pointless to try, because laws designed to protect everyone else won’t be applied to them. I’d put good money on the fact that the man you cite who intended to appeal to the ECHR has given up all hope of pursuing such a case because he has been advised by his lawyers that as a smoker, he hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning, precisely because that is how the courts, including, no doubt the ECHR, have been – err – “advised” to operate. It’s unfair, of course, and it makes a mockery of the inclusion of the word “justice” in the legal system, but that’s the way it is.

          It’s notable, for example that the recently-imposed ban on smoking in private vehicles – supposedly exempted from Health Act in 2006 as a nod to the EHRA’s clause on “the right to private and family life” – has gone utterly unchallenged by the EU. As has the ban in prisons or secure mental hospitals, also both deemed, previously, to be an individual’s “home,” albeit not necessarily one of their own choosing. Blatantly in contravention of the Act though these are, what have the EU done in response? Nothing. Not a squeak. Not a stern look. Not even a sharp, disapproving intake of breath has been heard from across the Channel. The silence has been deafening. So, in that sense there’s no difference whether we’re in or out. As far as smokers are concerned, our Government (and indeed any other European government) can do precisely what they want, as long as it follows the anti-smoking agenda, and the EU won’t do a single damned thing to stop them.

          So yes, coming out of the EU may not offer much chance of positive change for smokers, but neither does staying in!

        • nisakiman says:

          Well said, Jax. You’re absolutely right. Smokers have now been declared global untermenschen, and as such have no rights anywhere.

        • So yes, coming out of the EU may not offer much chance of positive change for smokers, but neither does staying in
          I think coming out offers no chance of change (at least not within Frank’s lifetime) and staying in little but one of the few things even the most socioEUpathic Brexiteurs and Remoaners will agree on is that IF the EU is to survive then it MUST change, no ifs or buts . My personal feeling is Trump will be more of a catalyst for that change than Brexit ever will. The day after the brexit plebiscide i tried explaining that ‘Brussels’ attitude was ‘good riddance’ & I’m pleased to note that even the more rabid brexiteurs now realise that is the case. Trump and the upcoming elections in France and Germany. Siggy’s recent trip to the White House was illuminating.

  3. Timothy Goodacre says:

    After 2007 in my area many pubs have just closed. Some are still just hanging on. A few have turned into eateries populated by raucous parents and ghastly spoilt children.
    All down to losing their smoking regulars. One wonders why pub owners gave in to economic suicide so willingly ?

    • We, as smokers, should really celebrate every pub closure. Every new Tesco Express is a small step towards victory. There was one proper tobacconist left in North Norfolk, it closed (having been there since at least the Boer War to my certain knowledge) last year. I smiled.

      • nisakiman says:

        We still have specialist tobacconists here in Greece; everything they sell proudly on display so you can browse at your leisure. Most of them now also sell e-cigs and accoutrements also. They are veritable Aladdin’s Caves for the serious smoker.

        I think I mentioned it here once before, but I have a coffee bar / tobacconist just up the road who will deliver coffees and smokes to your door on a phone call.

        Now that’s what I call civilised.

        • Timothy Goodacre says:

          And does it sell George Karelias Virginia Plain Ovals Nisakiman ? If so Heaven because we can’t get them in England. However we do have good specialist tobacconists left. I buy from My Smoking Shop who provide an excellent service.

        • They are veritable Aladdin’s Caves for the serious smoker.

        • nisakiman says:

          @ TG

          I would imagine that most of them would sell the Karelias that you like if they still make them, since Karelias is one of the largest cigarette makers here, and have a lot of brands. But I haven’t actually looked, so I can’t be sure.

          Personally, I’m not wild about most Greek cigs – I find the tobacco blends a little bland, and anyway, I’m a roll-ups man.

          I remember the first time I was in Greece in 1967, I used to buy the cheapest brand, called ‘Teleion’ (no longer available, sadly, although a few of my Greek friends remember them). They were actually rather nice. Very strong, plain (unfiltered) oval cigs in a flat lidded box. I think they cost 2½ Drachma a pack. In those days there were about 70 Drachma to the pound, so (off the top of my head), about 8d old money (maybe 4p new money), per pack. That was less than half the price of a pack of twenty in the UK at that time.

      • Frank Davis says:

        I’m not going to celebrate. I don’t want them to close. Every closure is the destruction of a community and a culture. And that’s what they want to destroy.

    • Rose says:

      “One wonders why pub owners gave in to economic suicide so willingly ?”

      Because they’d been scared into compliance by experts, previously.

      ASH and Thompsons’ Tell Employers:
      Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned Over Secondhand Smoke
      2004

      “The hospitality trade faces a rising threat of legal action from employees whose health is damaged by secondhand smoke, after a new tie-up between health campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the UK’s largest personal injury and trade union law firm Thompsons was announced today.

      ASH has sent a registered letter to all the UK’s leading hospitality trade employers, warning them that the “date of guilty knowledge” under the Health and Safety at Work Act is now past, and that employers should therefore know of the risks of exposing their staff to secondhand smoke. Employers who continue to permit smoking in the workplace are therefore likely to be held liable by the courts for any health damage caused. ASH and Thompsons intend to use the letters in any future court cases as evidence that employers have been fully informed of the issue.

      ASH and Thompsons are also planning further steps to encourage employees who believe their health has been harmed by smoking in the workplace to seek legal advice on making a claim for compensation. These will be announced shortly.”
      http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/ash-and-thompsons-tell-employers-dont-say-you-werent-warned-over-secondhand-smoke/

      • Yes, I’ve noted ASH’s legal bullying along these lines for a while. Of the tens of millions of potential cases out there I don’t think they’ve managed to actually scare up more than a half dozen or so Cippilonies(?) who’ve actually been able to attack ex-employers (with any degree of success? Or not??) But the professionally crafted warnings they send out ARE intimidating and unfortunately I think most employers have bought into them.

        :/
        MJM

  4. And every tobacconist that stays open is a sign that there is still quiet resistance.
    There is an argument to be made that a lot of pubs have closed for reasons other than the smoking ban-not that i think those arguments hold much water or beer for that matter. However does anyone really believe the closure of every town’s tobacconist is anything but a result of the anti-smoker laws and regulations brought in , and this must be stressed time and time again, by the sovereign Uk Government and local councils? AKA “The Enemy”

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Thew sooner the antismokers and tobacco control elite are disposed the better. Every act of resistance brings that day closer.

    • Every act of resistance brings that day closer.
      I couldn’t agree more! In the first 30 odd days of this new year I have had to buy perhaps a carton of UK Duty Paid cigarettes or around 10 packs out of a consumption of 90. I feel guilty about that. I am not joking. I am only to aware of that every pack purchased from a licenced UK retailer is infact not only an Qui -acet-Consentire-Videturesque acceptance of my own denormalization at the hands of the State but also my funding it!
      However i console myself with the thought that in the last year I went into a UK Pub only twice , both times to drink coffee (I’m a dry alcoholic) with the Landlady- no not the mine hostess of the joint, i mean THE Landlady.
      The genuine Smoker maquisard never goes into a UK Pub, they didn’t want his custom so he will whistle when they go to the wall. The Real Resistance never buys a pack UK Duty Paid.

      • Rose says:

        they didn’t want his custom so he will whistle when they go to the wall

        Then he would be wrong.on both counts. Never underestimate the Machiavellian nature of ASH

        ASH Political Bulletin 2004

        Letter to the Publican

        Managing Director of The Massive Pub Company
        “The only ultimate provision and safety for us will be a smoking ban.
        We all need to be forwarned that the next growth area for the legal system will be prosecutions of publicans for not protecting staff from the dangers of ETS.Since April 27 cases have been taken on – this is the start of a tidal wave – in my view.

        The industry, through the various trade bodies is looking for a voluntary ban with 80% of premises having smoke free areas by 2007.
        Having attended the conference I am of the clear view that far too many of us could be fighting legal battles by then, and perhaps we will be preferring a total national ban.

        We need to take a very close look at what is happening elsewhere and learn from their experiences.The clearest message from this conference is that on health and legal grounds a ban is an absolute must and an absolute certainty.
        That frightens us and requires us to change will, ultimately, be irrelevant.

        I would strongly recommend that every trade body and industry representative invites some of the speakers from this conference, or workshop.
        At least that way acknowledge of the dangers of ETS and to our livelihoods and businesses will be more widely available.”
        https://web.archive.org/web/20150326131553/http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_405.pdf

        I don’t go to the pub knowing full well that they were frightened into submission.

        • There is no danger I will ever underestimate the undiluted evil (not a word i use lightly btw) of ASH et al, although I do think that many smokers don’t yet realise what is coming down the post-Brexit line (why do I keep mentioning bloody Brexit? It is actually of very little interest to me).
          It also matters little to me if the quislings of the pub trade were frightened into their grovelling submission. They submitted, that’s all that counts. There were a few notable , even brave, exceptions; men prepared to put everything on the line. Imagine if there had been not one Hogan but a 1000…
          ” Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.
          Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.” -Brecht

        • nisakiman says:

          What I don’t understand, Rose, is why the pubcos and the drinks industry didn’t contest the bans in court. Because let’s admit it, the evidence of SHS harm is very shaky to say the least, and a good legal team would have been able to tear it to shreds.

          TC’s claims only stand if they’re not held up to the light of scientific scrutiny.

          In terms of the research that has been done (Think Enstrom / Kabat, Boffetta et al), the evidence falls overwhelmingly on the side of null hypothesis.

          ASH and their ambulance chasing lawyers could have threatened all they like, but if the courts found their case to be based on unverifiable junk science, it would have been over for them. They lost the McTear case on the lack of provability, despite their array of ‘experts’ testifying; and they had, I would venture, a much stronger case there than they would have defending their stance on SHS.

        • waltc says:

          @Nisakiman. Unfortunately, using the real science of shs doesn’t work either–at least it didn’t work under the rules of the US judicial system. It was tried in Clash’s case against NYC in the wake of the first total indoor ban. And no matter how voluminously cited our facts were, they were basically deemed irrelevant, and besides, we were told, who were we to oppose the Expert “science” of the likes of the Surgeon General, the FDA, the CDC and the NYC Health Dept. upon whose word the legislature had based the ban.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Science has become Whatever The Experts Say.

        • waltc says:

          Oops. Meant EPA

      • “The Real Resistance never buys a pack UK Duty Paid.” Yep. That’s why I switched to roll your own back when the Master Settlement Agreement first began extracting money from smokers to give to the Antis back in 1999.

        When Clinton/Obama’s SCHIP tax came in I stocked up with about ten years’ worth of rolling tobacco at the old non-taxed price. That’s now run out, but I’m looking into the grow-your-own area to some extent, been playing with vaping, and been grudgingly buying some RYO tobacco even under SCHIP: at least the SCHIP money isn’t going directly to Antismokers the way the MSA money did.

        – MJM

  6. Clicky says:

  7. waltc says:

    “The past is a foreign country” and to that extent we’re all eventually dispossessed and can’t go home again.

    • Rose says:

      True enough, so much time has passed that a generation of young people will never have known the pleasure of sitting comfortably in a home from home, chatting all evening with friends and neighbours of all ages.
      It’s how we were socialised, misbehave and you would be very quickly asked to leave.

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