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.
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: