Ever since that infamous day – 1 July 2007 – I’ve been trying to start a fire, one that would travel all the way round the world, and burn down Tobacco Control.
But doing something like that is like trying to light a cigarette in a strong wind. The flame just keeps blowing out. Perhaps it can’t be done? I wanted to instigate a new social movement, composed of angry smokers like me. Smokers are being treated abominably, and they have every reason to be angry. And I think that they all are angry at what’s being done to them. Some are angrier than others. Some are hardly angry at all. But there’s a lot of dry tinder out there, waiting for the fire.
I’ve always seen my blog as being a way of bringing a few smokers together. And the Smoky Drinky Bar has been another way of doing that. I just wanted to get them talking to each other. It didn’t matter about what.
But on Saturday perhaps the flame of the lighter finally caught the end of the cigarette.
And it all happened of its own accord. I’d noticed that Nisakiman was in a hospital only about 50 miles from where I lived, and so I suggested to him that I come and visit him when he got out. And he readily agreed.
And then twentyrothmans said he’d like to come too, by train from London. And then Bucko asked me, in the Smoky Drinky Bar, if he could come too, all the way from Lancashire. If she hadn’t been so busy, Brigitte might have hitched a ride from Liverpool with Bucko.
So it went from two people to four people (and nearly five) in the space of a couple of weeks. It grew of its own impetus. It just happened.
And by the time I arrived in Ashton Keynes, I felt like I was being picked up and whirled around, like one of the leaves I used to watch floating down the River in Devon, outside of whose pub I sat exiled.
And on Thursday I’ll be doing it again. Because I’ll most likely be meeting up with someone else, this time at a motorway service station. Because yesterday one of my most stalwart and dependable commenters – Rose – phoned me to say that she’d be driving down the M5 on Thursday, and would be stopping for an hour or so at the southbound Gloucester Services at about 2 pm. And apparently this is a service station unlike any other, with grass growing on its roof.
And I’d love to meet Rose. There’s a possibility that I’ll need to collect some more spectacles that day, but I could leave that for another day.
And then in July Emily is coming to stay with me in Herefordshire. And that will be another meeting out of which a few more meetings look set to spin out of – because Brigitte has said she’s going to collect her from the airport, and stay the night as well.
And this is what I want to see happening: smokers meeting up. And talking. It doesn’t matter about what. When Brigitte comes she’s going to bring some pumpkin soup with her, and bake Toad In The Hole in my oven, so we’ll probably end up talking about cooking.
But the conversation will probably be sparkling. And it will sparkle because we’re all very different people: Emily is American, Brigitte is German, and I’m English. And we’ll all be bringing our different cultural perspectives, and bouncing them off each other.
And, who knows, since Rose lives in Yorkshire, she might meet up with Bucko and Brigitte one day. And maybe with one or two other people as well. And have the same experience.
And maybe, since I always think big – very, very big – the fire will spread throughout England, and then Scotland and Wales and Ireland, and leap the Channel to Holland and France and Germany, and then head east into Russia and India and China and Japan, and Australia and New Zealand and Canada and America and Brazil. And there’ll be smokers talking to each other in all those places, in their own languages. And they’ll all be making pumpkin soup and Toad In The Hole.
But it will have to just happen of its own accord. It can’t be top-down organised. It has to happen from out of individual people’s own volition, not somebody else’s. For top down control is how Tobacco Control works. Everything they do is carefully planned and orchestrated. The world that they want is a global totalitarian state, and one that will likely be as murderous as Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia. And it will only be stopped if millions of ordinary people revolt against it, and revolt against it individually, like bees or wasps in a swarm.
I’m not some sort of utopian socialist. Nor am I any sort of activist. If anything I’m an inactivist. I do what’s easiest. I don’t make plans for other people. I don’t even make plans for myself. I like things to just happen of their own accord. And if I have any great political ambition it is: just to be able to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer and smoke a cigarette. That’s all I want. Is that too great an ambition?
P.S. Bucko sent me a couple more photos of that memorable afternoon on Saturday, which I’ve added to yesterday’s post. And I’m hoping that twentyrothmans will have a couple of photos of his little drop-bear mascot Max (with whom I shook hands/claws) perched on the preaching cross in Ashton Keynes.