Sitting On Emily’s Knee

Well, here it is. The interview. Although everyone seems to have seen it already.

It actually seems much more polished than it did at the time. I thought I was mumbling, and not finishing my sentences. But in the video I was actually talking tolerably well. Apart from the smacking sound which seemed to be coming from my lips smacking together after I stopped talking. Or perhaps it was coming from my loose denture. I do have a denture. And it is a bit loose. So maybe that’s what I actually sound like in real life. Mr Smacky. You know, that guy who sits outside in summer with a beer and a cigarette, and whose lips smack together like clapping hands whenever he says anything.

But I think it was probably actually a consequence of my lapel microphone, clipped to my gown, being a bit too close to my mouth. Because I could hear myself breathe from time to time. Or exhale. Make that Mr Smacky, who sits outside in summer with a beer and a cigarette, breathing heavily, and whose lips smack together like clapping hands whenever he says anything.

And then I’m also looking sideways. But that’s because I had my eyes on Emily on my computer screen. But then, I’ve noticed that when I talk to people, I very seldom look directly at them. I look off to the side. Or down. I usually only look at people when they are speaking. And then I look at their mouths as they speak.

And my view of Emily was pretty much the intimate view I’d have got if I’d been sitting on her knee. Because she had the webcam that I could see out of down below her to her left, at about knee level. In fact, after the show, I thought it reminded me of sitting on my mother’s knee, over sixty years ago. And my mother would be looking down at me and telling me that if I didn’t eat my greens, I’d grow up to be a little old man called Mr Smacky, whose lips would smack together like clapping hands whenever he said anything. And, of course, I didn’t eat my greens, and so here I am. I should’ve listened to my mother.

But if I personally didn’t look too much at my computer’s webcam, Emily spent a lot of time looking down at hers. In fact, if you watch her carefully on the YouTube video, you’ll see that she doesn’t keep her eyes on the studio camera all the time. She actually spends a lot of the time looking down at me, Mr Smacky, sitting out of sight on her left knee.

I think the trick that she’s learned, and I haven’t, is to fix your eyes on your own webcam when the other person is speaking. Because that way you look like you’re paying attention to them when they’re speaking. Or maybe it’s the other way round.

Anyway I think Emily should maybe have her own show called Sitting On Emily’s Knee. And she should invite all us Brits over to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to sit on her knee and talk to her. Dick Puddlecote. Chris Snowdon. Legiron. Junican. And maybe also Grandad in Ireland. And Klaus K in Denmark, and Wiel Maessen in Holland. Anyone who’s got a webcam and microphone. And most laptop computers have them these days. She said that they sometimes have difficulty finding people to come on their show. But now that they’re Skype-enabled, the whole world has opened up to them. In fact, the rest of America too. Maybe we’d also be able to see Michael McFadden and Walt and lots of others. I for one would watch avidly. Then Emily could probably become as famous as, say, Megyn Kelly or somebody.

It’s also prompted me to think about using Skype more. I hardly ever do. A few years back, I used to get together online occasionally with GaryK, Brigitte, Nisakiman, and the late Lysistrata. That was quite fun, but was plagued with feedback problems. GaryK had a paid account with Skype, which I don’t. Perhaps I should get one, and invite people to After Hours with Frank Davis. Or maybe Sitting On Mr Smacky’s Knee…

I’ll think about it.

About Frank Davis

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51 Responses to Sitting On Emily’s Knee

  1. Lecroix says:

    Reblogged this on Contra la ley "antitabaco" and commented:
    Very, very pleased to finally meet you, Frank. And congrats for the interview.

  2. margo says:

    Emily’s great. I’d like to see Harley on her show, as well as all the ones you mentioned. He’d have loads to say. I’m really glad you did this interview, because I didn’t know about Emily’s Smoking Section before.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      I’d love to do the show don’t know exactly what we’d say except do as general Patton would do!

      Attack attack attack

  3. Emily Wieja says:

    Thanks again Frank for the wonderful interview. Like everyone here I was so pleased to finally “meet” you. Our show is very, er, amateur, in production as I am sure is apparent, but it is the guests who make it special and interesting, which you certainly did last night. There are a lot of technical challenges to using Skype in our community TV studio which I hope to refine as time goes on, but now that you have made sitting on my knee sound so attractive, I may be deluged with guests (I can only hope)!

    • Frank Davis says:

      now that you have made sitting on my knee sound so attractive, I may be deluged with guests

      I think you will be. Who could resist the opportunity?

      And I don’t know that I made the show at all special and interesting. But you sure did.

  4. junican says:

    Well done, Frank. Never mind the lip smacking and breathing, you came across as a calm, sensible, erudite person who uses common sense. And common sense might well be our biggest asset.
    At first, when the smoking ban was on the horizon, I thought that there might be something in the idea of bar staff suffering to some extent from SHS. It was when I started reading stuff like Doll’s Hospital Study and the much bigger Doctors Study that I began to realise that there was something wrong. For instance, although the studies purported to show that smokers were 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer, the actual numbers of deaths from LC among the smoking doctors was only about 7%. Why did the other 93% not suffer from that condition? Another eye-opener was ‘the black lung lie’, and the fact that smokers’ lungs were used in transplants since no difference between smokers’ lungs and non-smokers’ lungs could be detected. And then there is the real world evidence that SHS is massively diluted almost immediate after it leaves the smoker’s mouth.
    I could go on, as they say, but enough for now.

    Well done again.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Cousin you nailed the high points!

      I just love the reference manual on scientific evidence as it was judge Kessler who co wrote the 3rd edition the same one judge on the EPA study on
      Shs as well as the rico trial and also the one who tries to force the tobacco companies to make statements!

      Bayonets in your back to say what’s never been proven!

      Sounds just like Nazi Germans confess or we will kill you knowing the will anyway!

      We that fight everyday are the underground movement the Nazis fear most we wreck their train of thought,we destroy their propaganda and we destroyed their online war at least 5 years ago!

    • Frank Davis says:

      you came across as a calm, sensible, erudite person who uses common sense

      Well, that’s more or less exactly how I think of myself. So, thank you.

  5. Oi you says:

    It’s funny how indoctrinated we’ve become. No, not funny, downright frightening. We’ll believe anything they tell us. Which is probably what they wanted all along…


  6. nisakiman says:

    I haven’t watched it yet – I started to, but I left the laptop in Bangkok (as you may gather, I’m currently in Thailand), and trying to watch it on my phone is a bit frustrating, so I’ll look at it tomorrow when we’re back in the metropolis.

    Tell me, Frank, do you wear that hat to bed? Because I seem to remember you wearing it when we chatted on Skype a couple of years ago! :)

    And Emily, I’ll come and sit on your lap any time you like! Metaphorically speaking of course. :) I was unaware of your site, but now I know about it, I’ll be a regular visitor.

    I agree, Frank, that we should utilise Skype etc more. I tend to use Viber mostly these days when I chat with my daughters, as it has video, calls and texts, and all free if you have Internet access on your phone. If I’m calling from my computer, I use Skype. I’ll probably comment again tomorrow (I’m 7 hours ahead of you) after I’ve watched the video.

    • Frank Davis says:

      do you wear that hat to bed?

      I wear a hat all the time. About the only time it comes off is when I take a bath or shower. I lost most of my hair quite early in life, and noticed the loss. It’s not vanity: hats of one sort or other keep my head warm.

      I wondered whether or not to wear it for the interview last night. But it’s still quite cold in England right now. And also whenever I see US talk show host Michael Savage, he’s always wearing a hat (although a rather more expensive one than mine). So, if he could do it, so could I.

      • Rose says:

        I look forward to the next interview but please find a better place for the microphone. I had wondered about the heavy breathing, now all is explained.

      • smokervoter says:

        Getcha’ a cowboy hat Frank. I’ve still got plenty of hair, but I wear one in the summer when it’s 32-38 C around here.

        Here’s mine.

        • Frank Davis says:

          So cowboy hats keep your head cool?

        • smokervoter says:

          Yes it does. The main function is to throw shade on your face. It also keeps your hair from getting the direct thermal absorption.

          And besides that when you combine the hat with a cigarette dangling from your lips, it gives you that instant Clint Eastwood credibility so that no one dares tell you to ‘Put it out, pardner’.

          The best fight is the one that is avoided.

  7. smokervoter says:

    To resurrect an old 60s phrase: Outta’ sight!

    Nice to finally put a face and a voice to a longtime virtual friend. And your British accent isn’t too thick, perfectly intelligible to my Yankee eardrums. Question to fellow UK readers: What kind of accent does Frank have?

    It’s amazing to me that there’s even a Cambridge Smokers Rights group in existence. Cambridge is at the very center of the eastern Puritan Belt, at least to my never-been-east-of-the-Rocky Mountains head.

    And a ban on smoking at construction sites? Ain’t never gonna happen on any structure I’m involved with. Them is fightin’ words! Someone’s going to get thrown off the second story! And it’s a long way down to the hard ground below.

    The interview was a bit like watching a Jeff Beck interview on the topic of Guitar Playing.

    Outta’ sight!

    • Frank Davis says:

      Good to see you back. I was going to mention you as another possible candidate for Emily’s lap. But given the number of people you seem to have floored in your lifetime (or thrown off construction sites), I always imagine that you’re very strongly built.

      Cambridge is at the very center of the eastern Puritan Belt,

      I had a similar thought. Although my thought was that this was Paul Revere country, and he’d probably galloped right past Emily’s front door on his way to warn people that “the regulars are coming” (this seems to be the consensus view on what he actually said), way back whenever. These are the people who first mounted the revolt against -*cough*- us Brits. And perhaps they might also be the ones who’ll revolt against the latest bunch of tyrants in Tobacco Control.

      All of which reminds me that during my very first Skype conversation – with Winston Smith aka Robert Prasker of Fprces – he impressed on me very strongly that America’s wealth was originally built upon tobacco. They were probably shipping it out of Boston just as much as ports further south. In which case, isn’t anti-smoking fundamentally anti-American? Or were they as ashamed back then about tobacco as they are today about slavery (which some people seem to think Americans invented).

      What kind of accent does Frank have?

      I’m as interested in the answer as you are, because I’m mostly completely unaware of my own voice. But perhaps BD has got quite near.

      • smokervoter says:

        Good to see you back.

        I never went away. You’re my first read everyday, seven years+ and running. The laptop I’m on now (w/ Windows 10) has a keyboard that’s like typing on a concrete slab.

        given the number of people you seem to have floored in your lifetime

        Actually I abhor violence unless it’s absolutely a last resort. I’ve got a very sunny disposition. Heck, so much so that I occasionally need to wear my cowboy hat in the winter.

    • Re your perception of Cambridge: You are VERY correct! Stephen and Emily are standing up against a very well-entrenched, very nasty enemy up there. Stephen’s been at this for over ten years by now, and has traveled hundreds of miles to hold up his “Tobacco Control Is Out Of Control!” sign at ban demonstrations. I think he may be the only one of us Smokin’ Warriors to have gotten his photo in TobakkoNacht! LOL! I went to a demo about twenty miles from my home when the bar ban came rolling into New Jersey. I’m standing around in a crowd of five hundred or so people and I’m looking up at the courthouse/city-hall steps a couple of hundred feet away and thinking to myself, “Wow! That guy looks just like Steve Helfer!” Since Steve lives several HUNDRED miles away I was quite surprised when I realized it WAS Steve Helfer! He’d spent hours on a train just to come and support our local fight!

      CCSR is incredibly productive and, despite Emily being modest about the professionalism of their videos, I think they’re INCREDIBLY professional! Heck, if I tried something like that my effort would look like that of a kindergartener with crayons!


  8. garyk30 says:

    Just as I remember you; but, you looked more comfortable with a beer at hand.

    Doing those ‘Smokey-Drinkies’ was a lot if fun and very interesting; but, the time differences was a problem for me.

    I have no problem with having a few at 2pm, In order to make for a reasonable 8pm for you and a not too late 10pm for Nisakiman; but, my wife tired of me being half drunk so early in the afternoon.

    If we were joined by some one from Australia, it would have been sometime early the next morning for them.

    Plus; due to the limitations of the system, only one person at a time can speak.

    That is fine for an interview; but, no one gets heard when a bunch of drinking folks all start babbling. :)

    Anyone with a Facebook account can do a video chat with any of their Facebook friends; tho, this also is only a person to person and not multiparty.

    • Frank Davis says:

      my wife tired of me being half drunk so early in the afternoon.

      Ah! That’s why they stopped!

      Plus; due to the limitations of the system, only one person at a time can speak.

      That is fine for an interview; but, no one gets heard when a bunch of drinking folks all start babbling. :)

      I wonder why? I can’t think of a technical reason for that. Feedback was the biggest problem I remember.

      Yeah, we should do some more, and raise a glass to Lysistrata.

      But I’m now thinking of doing some one-on-one conversations, much along the lines of my chat with Emily last night, but this time recording them and posting them up on YouTube like Emily did. Is that impossible? I don’t think it is at all impossible.

    • There is muliparty. I have done radio broadcasts to USA in my alter ego, with others simultaneously. With all of us chatting on skype before hand. Also, watch Vapourtrails TV – they do it all the time!

  9. Clicky says:

  10. Tony says:

    Lovely to finally see and hear you Frank. I thought you came across very well. Sincere and thoughtful, just as in your blog. Slightly posh too, in a good way.
    A big thanks to Emily for organising and conducting the interview. Very slick and professional.
    I hope you can conduct many more!

    • Frank Davis says:

      Slightly posh too

      My brother once said, many years ago, that he thought our family was perhaps an aristocratic family who’d fallen on hard times. I don’t know why he said that. I must ask him about it, next time I see him – if he can remember ever saying it.

      “Posh” is an interesting word. I believe it comes from Port Outward, Starboard Home, in reference to making a boat trip to India or Australia or anywhere in those parts. It put you on the cool side of the ship, out of the sun.

  11. Frank Davis says:

    Did anyone notice that in the video my cigarettes glowed white at the tip when I pulled on them? I thought that was really cool. White hot cigarettes!

  12. Frank, that was the NICEST thing that has happened to me lately! I have often wondered what you were like! Also – I think you should publish your Idle theory on and you should be on Quora. Loved your video. Loved your hat – and you are right – it’s been bloody cold here!

  13. Your conversation with Emily was interesting and enlightening. As I commented on Cambridge Citizen’s for Smokers’ Rights Facebook page, your comment that as you rejected Nazi eugenic science because of the harm it caused, you reject Tobacco Control theory (entirely) for the same reason. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7: 5-20). Incidentally, the Cambridge City Council listened to Cambridge Citizens for Smokers’ Rights and the many Cantabrigians who respectfully spoke at the public hearings, and unlike New York or Boston officials, did not ban smoking in all of the city’s parks.

    • Frank Davis says:

      you rejected Nazi eugenic science because of the harm it caused, you reject Tobacco Control theory (entirely) for the same reason.

      I think that one of my initial reasons for rejecting a lot of Tobacco Control science was that I didn’t think it was actually science. I don’t think you can do science using questionnaires, for example. But I now think that if some supposed science is being used to justify the persecution of some social group, that fact alone should be sufficient cause to reject it. And that was my reason for rejecting Nazi racial science as soon as I came across it. And Tobacco Control science is being used just like Nazi racial science: to justify the persecution of a social group. And that fact alone is enough, I now think, to wholly reject it.

  14. I should know I have to deal with the VA hospital crap myself. I went outside on the front sidewalk where smoking had always been and I was pissed over waiting 4 hours on an emergency dental extraction and still hadnt been seen after 38 people went thru before me and the lady tells me well sir everyones left for the day! So I go outside and am facing the road when a hand comes up to grab my lit cigarette and I grabbed the hand thumb first twisted it around behind his back and shoved him into the wall. Turns out he was a VA cop………I told him $%^&*&%$$ AND i WALKED OFF to the new so called smoking area was and 2 doctors and 4 nurses were at and saw what happened. So he bothered you too ehh, I said he wont be so quick to mess with a smoker again

  15. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank, Very nice interview. I hope it gets replayed and transmitted far and wide.

  16. Rhys says:

    Harley, that’s awful! They trusted you with things like – guns – and to defend your country, but now you’re a mental infant because you smoke and the ‘grown-ups’ have over-ruled you? I’d be pretty angry about that, too. I hope the bill doesn’t pass.

    Mr Smacky, what can I say? I’d definitely watch the Mr Smacky show. And the Sit on Emily’s Knee show :). You were both delightful, and I love the way you were so calm talking about the smokers’ graveyard. Just ‘this is what TC has wrought’.

    Doesn’t google have hangouts (think that’s the name) for free multi-chatting?

    And just so you know. You say it ‘reese’. I’m an old woman, btw, not an old man, but the only person I ever met with the same full name as me was a Welsh footballer, so I know it can be confusing.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Doesn’t google have hangouts (think that’s the name) for free multi-chatting?

      It does indeed. Emily introduced me to it last week, in the lead-up to last night’s show. We were going to use it if we lost Skype.

  17. Dmitri says:

    I love learning from other people. That was a good show. Quiet, natural, no theatrical effects – but the overall impression is of amazing strength, as in “you cannot bend us”. Thanks, Frank.

  18. junican says:

    By the way, Frank’s accent is ‘English University Estuary’.

  19. Joe L. says:

    It’s great to be finally be able to put a face and a voice with the words I’ve been reading for years!

    Funny thing, the internet is, that through reading and conversing with you on this blog, I’ve come to think of you as a friend, and yet this video made me realize that I had never seen or heard you speak even once. I never had a pen pal, but I guess in the pre-internet days, that would be quite similar.

    I agree that your mic was a bit hot because it was placed too close to your mouth, but it wasn’t too annoying. Next time, if you’re wearing a button-down shirt, try clipping it between the 2nd and 3rd button down from the top.

    All in all, it was a great interview, and I think it’s important for us smokers to share our stories and our thoughts as much and as visibly as possible. Through this interview, I learned about Emily and her fight in Cambridge. Strength in numbers! Go Emily!!

  20. Emily Wieja says:

    Thanks for all the kind words. Just a warning, I really will be trying to get in touch with everyone Frank mentions in his post, and people here in the comments too, about trying to set up interviews. I would love to try and represent the whole international movement on the show eventually (though I realize that the time differences can be tough). Also if anyone is interested or just wants to shoot the breeze, feel free to email me at ewieja at

  21. beobrigitte says:

    Great interview! Thank you Frank and Emily.

    Indeed, it was a German who committed suicide after the dictation of the smoking ban (albeit in much weaker form than dictated in Britain) as he lost much of his income.

    And, Frank, I’m glad you did point out that the German bar keeper was surely not the only one. We just never are told about all the others.

    On the subject pub closures due to the smoking ban; In England these pub closures are blamed on the advent of cheap supermarket alcohol. I do remember that back in the 1980s (alcohol only available in off licenses) a lot of people were home brewing (much cheaper than alcohol from off licenses), yet pubs were packed literally every night.
    Surely not every country that was inflicted with the draconian smoking ban all of a sudden had “cheap supermarket alcohol” where there was none before. It would be interesting to compare figures internationally!

  22. RdM says:

    Well, here it is. The interview. Although everyone seems to have seen it already.
    Days late viewing, personal circumstances, I’m sorry!

    But wonderful to see and hear you all at the same time, Frank, and Emily too. Thanks so much!
    I recall seeing a still from Stony Stratford, was it, but the “talkies” are so much better, real life …

    Have yet to save it (Chrome in temp use doesn’t allow it, Google owning YouTube) but will later.
    Firefox add-ons or 3rd party downloaders will.

    Now to catch up with more recent posts…


  23. Pingback: Skype and YouTube | Frank Davis

  24. RdM says:

    It was not long after this that the SmokyDrinkyBar was created, and still exists.
    Mostly populated Saturday evening and late, UK time. Used more to be Friday.

    Anyway, several other interviews with Frank exist, from the Smoking Section series.
    (Thanks, Emily! What a great effort and series of collaborations you put together there!)

    This first interview at the top of this page, is still there too on YouTube.
    Those were all conducted by Skype &or etc. I believe, but now there is the SBD.
    Which is never recorded – a free conversation space, just like a virtual pub should be.

    See you there soon, perhaps?

    Perhaps at some time soon there may be a virtual Wake for Frank.

    Other UK folk from here might attend his funeral memorial service in real life.
    And have a real life wake afterwards.

    Hopefully we’ll here news of that here too.

    But back to the latest “Living in … ” and last blog post for news re all that, I hope!

    ~ RdM

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