Idle Conversation

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the day in 2011 when some 200 people showed up in Stony Stratford to protest against Councillor Paul Bartlett’s proposed street smoking ban. I drove across England to get there, with my home-made placard saying “Enough Is Enough” in the back of my car. I managed to get on BBC TV that day, for the only time in my life.

We succeeded in defeating Paul Bartlett, but my biggest disappointment with the occasion was that we didn’t spend much time talking to each other. I spent about 2 minutes talking to Dick Puddlecote, and 5 seconds talking to Chris Snowdon. For everyone jumped back into their cars and sped off home once all the speeches had been given.

If Stony Stratford was one occasion on which smokers briefly got together, the TICAP conferences were other occasions – although I never attended any of those.

But over the past couple of weeks smokers have been meeting up again in the Smoky Drinky Bar. We’ve had some illustrious visitors. There’s been Grandad from the Headrambles blog, and Leg-iron from Underdogsbiteupwards, and Junican from the Bolton Smokers’ Club. And there’s been Wiel Maessen from Holland. And then last night Iro Cyr looked in for a half an hour from Quebec. And Dick Puddlecote dropped in for a couple of hours too.

The Smoky Drinky Bar has become a new meeting place for smokers, I was thinking this morning, rather like Stony Stratford or the TICAP conferences. But it was much easier to get to than any of them. Nobody needed to get in a car and drive anywhere. Nobody need to fly anywhere. They could visit the Smoky Drinky Bar while sitting in the comfort of their own homes, which is exactly what Iro and Dick were doing. We all spent a while looking at Iro’s latest big painting as it sat on its easel, and at Dick’s papyrus depiction of the Egyptian Day of Judgement on the wall behind him.

There’s no agenda at the Smoky Drinky Bar. Nobody makes any speeches. The conversation ebbs and flows just like any pub conversation. People enter and leave, come and go, drink beer, make tea, and smoke. Dress is casual.

Can anything ever come out of such idle conversation? Yet I think that more or less everything that ever happens begins with such conversations.

And a couple of days back, something did happen. I’d just finished reading a passage from a book I’d been reading, when Vapingpoint Liz asked if she could read out a letter she’d written to Theresa May. We all listened as she read it out. And then I suggested she re-read it and record it on video. And now there’s a video of her reading the letter on YouTube, and it’s been seen by thousands of people. Maybe even Theresa May has seen it.

It wasn’t something I’d planned. It probably wasn’t anything Liz planned either. It was something that just happened, quite fortuitously.

I’m sure there’ll be other visitors. They’ll come in their own time. Last night we were even wondering whether Nigel Farage might show up. Why not? Why not anybody, from anywhere in the world?

My aim is simply to bring smokers together from all over the world, and get them talking and bouncing thoughts off each other. And it’s also my intention to unite them into an army or a swarm of such power that it will overthrow the satanic empire of Tobacco Control.

For I have become something of a revolutionary like Lenin or Trotsky, who played chess with each other in Geneva cafes, and plotted to overthrow the Tsar of Russia. How could such a thing be done, by such a small band of people? Was it even possible at all? They also organised conferences, and published papers. They probably smoked a lot as well.

Here’s the (slightly slow motion) Smoky Drinky Bar as it was last night, with intruders locked out, and with me plotting to throw packs of cigarettes into school playgrounds:


About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to Idle Conversation

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Pity we can’t all organise a weekend together in the countryside !

  2. Scot says:

    I’d toss the fags into the playground in McDonald’s paper takeaway bags, neatly rolled over at the top – the greedy little bastards would be unable to resist opening them…

  3. anonymong says:

    We should have a Stony Stratford reunion

  4. I have always regretted, for once, not having been able to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ and attended Stony because that is the reason why the obscenity of the Smoking Ban continues. It’s not the fault of the Anti-smokers, they are no better than they should be-dark , twisted little souls that they are. No the fault lies with me, you and any other smoker reading this comment.
    Until we are prepared to drive across country, pay fines and even risk imprisonment the Smoking Verbot will persist. As long as we are prepared to give money to people who told us to fuck off in 07. As long as we are prepared to ‘apologise’ for being smokers. As long as we are prepared to be expelled into the driving sunshine of a Great British summer wearing a Hi Res Pink Tutu as a badge of shame.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Until we are prepared to drive across country, pay fines and even risk imprisonment the Smoking Verbot will persist.

      We didn’t pay fines or risk imprisonment at Stony Stratford. A few of us simply united there, just for one day.

      I think all we need to do is to unite, and we will defeat these people very quickly.

      • “pay fines” was me thinking about the ‘flash smoking mobs’ idea that happened a few times around the same time as Stony. As to ‘uniting’, I always come back to the thought that FOREST couldn’t manage to fund itself from donations and -I reckon- it is easier to get money out of people rather get them to DO something like attend SS.

  5. irocyr says:

    Oh that was Dick with the Egyptian papyrus behind him ? Sorry Dick, obviously I didn’t recognize you but of course we met in Brussels and I distincly remember you. I guess I also missed the name when you told me who you were because for the first minutes my mike wasn’t working properly. Apologies.

  6. Clicky says:

  7. garyk30 says:

    Smoking Bans kill people and those that advocate and pass Bans are killers.

    They claim that smoking and exposure to smoking causes death.

    If that is so, than the Bans and less smoking and exposure to smoke should have caused the U
    K death rate to decrease or at least increase it’s rate of decrease.

    That did not happen.
    In 2000, the U.K. death rate was 10.4/1,000 people.
    In 2009, with the ban just getting started, the rate was 9/1,000.
    At that rate of decrease, by 2015 you would expect tHe rate to be at 8/1,000.

    In 2015 the death rate was still 9/1,000.

    The ban has caused there to be a 1/1,000 people higher death rate than should be.

    That is 60,000 people dying per year that would not have died absent the ban. I

    • garyk30 says:

      From 2000 to 2008, the average life expectancy in the U.K. Increased from 78 years to 80 years.

      From 2008 to 2015, after the smoking ban, it only increased to 81 years of age.

      That is a 50% decrease in the growth of the life expectancy.e

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    Over in Antigua a local MP is opposing tobacco control’s plans to enhance antitobacco legislation. Predictably the antismokers are on the attack. Taks a look: “Sir Robin opposes government’s plans to regulate tobacco”

  9. beobrigitte says:

    and with me plotting to throw packs of cigarettes into school playgrounds:
    Hahahahahaha – the anti-smokers’ greatest fear….. “our cheeeeldren, our FUTURE”…..

    I do wonder if the anti-smokers’ “FUTURE” won’t hesitate and put them into a “hell’s entrance” rest home and tell the other residents that they are anti-smokers.
    The Guardian will find itself having to throw out an article about the bad, bad OLD smokers…..

    (Bloody hell! Windoze is definitely going! It takes too long for letting me compose a reply!!!)

  10. waltc says:

    I just finished reading Margo Jackson’s novel “The Mark” — a Leg Iron Book– and thought it was terrific. Take a look. Read tne free sample and see if you’re not hooked.

    • margo says:

      Wow, thanks Walt! Nothing as good as an accolade from a fellow writer (only we know how hard it is!) Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve got Manhattan Roulette now but won’t be able to get going on it properly till my visitors go home. Will let you know what I think in due corse!

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