Broken

There’s no substitute for experience. You have to be there, and watch it happening.

In the Department of Engineering of the University of Bristol, I used to watch big engines breaking concrete and wooden beams and columns. It was a rather terrifying experience, because we’d all be gathered quite close to the engines, and I used to wonder whether things would come flying out in all directions when they broke. Shouldn’t we all have been in a bunker 100 yards away, wearing helmets?

But when they broke, they just made a not-very-loud bang, and they didn’t actually look like they were broken. You had to look at them quite closely to see that there was a crack running right the way through them. They didn’t fly apart or anything like that. And I think that was because as soon as they broke the big machines stopped pressing on them. So it was a bit of a non-event. And that was why we could all stand so close.

It might have been different if they’d been steel cables that they were pulling apart. But I never saw that. Maybe I missed that class. I missed lots of classes.

All the same, it remains a vivid memory. There was fear and anticipation. Because it took a few minutes of whirring before the machines succeeded in breaking the beams and columns.

They were always making things in the Department of Engineering. And they were always breaking things as well. It was all very hands-on practical. They made you do it yourself. And that’s how people learn: by trial and error.

It’s only recently, many years after I left university, that I’ve realised that I had absorbed the engineering ethos of the university. It wasn’t that I was any good at engineering or anything. But nevertheless I absorbed that whole way of going about things, that whole way of looking at the world.

If I’d had an education in Classics, I would have read Plato and Aristotle, and read Latin and Greek, and written it as well. But instead I watched beams and columns being broken. And so that’s how I think about absolutely everything. As things being constructed of sand and cement or something, and then broken.

And that’s the way I think about society. I think a society is like a beam or column, made up of component individual atomic people, who are all stuck together just like sand and cement in a concrete beam. And, just like beams and columns, societies can also get broken. And, just like concrete beams and columns, when they’re broken they don’t look like they’re broken. They look pretty much exactly the same as they were before they broke. You have to look closely to see the cracks running right the way through them.

And I think our society is broken. And I was there watching when it broke. Britain got broken on 1 July 2007. And the engine that broke it was the force of law that came into effect with the public smoking ban.

For most people it was a non-event. Most people weren’t watching. There was no loud bang with stuff flying in all directions. There was no insurrection. There were no riots. It scarcely even made the news.

But I think Britain got broken that day. And it wasn’t the only country that got broken. Both Scotland and Ireland had been broken a few years before. And so had France and Spain and Italy and Holland. There’s hardly any country in Europe that hasn’t been broken. Austria hasn’t been broken. And only bits of Germany – like Bavaria – have been broken.

For me, everything changed on 1 July 2007. And everything still is changing. Because when Britain got broken that day, I flew off at very high speed. And I’ve been moving at very high speed ever since. Because when things get broken, stuff does actually fly out of them, just like when you drop a glass and it smashes on the floor, you’ll find bits of it months later on the far side of the room, under the chest of drawers, and you wonder how the hell it got there.

Britain got broken. Scotland got broken. Ireland got broken. And most of the countries of Europe got broken too.

And that’s why I have no belief in Europe and the European Union. Because it’s now a union of broken countries. It’s a heap of broken glass. How do you make a “union” out of a heap of broken glass? You can’t.

For a lot of people, Brexit was the point when Europe got broken. But I thought that Europe was already broken. It didn’t break when Britons voted to leave in 2016: it broke when the European Parliament voted to ban smoking in the EU, and to hold show trials of prominent dissenters, in 2009. Brexit was just a long overdue consequence of many fractures that had already happened, but which no-one had noticed. And it’s been Europe’s political class that has been very thoroughly and effectively breaking Europe. Nobody else did it. The Russians didn’t do it. Neither did the Americans. Europe’s politicians did it all themselves. They smashed Europe to pieces. There are probably about 150 million smokers in Europe’s population of 500 million. How can Europe hold together when 150 million of them have been “exiled to the outdoors”? It can’t hold together. There’s no possibility whatsoever.

I read yesterday:

Emmanuel Macron has demanded closer and faster EU integration towards a superstate, in a speech where he vowed to “yield nothing” to conservative eastern members which believe in a Europe of strong nations.

Speaking in Aachen, where he received this year’s pro-EU Charlemagne prize “in recognition of his vision of a new Europe” and his “decisive stance” against nationalism, the French president urged Brussels to move full speed ahead on monetary union and creating a single foreign policy and defence strategy for the whole bloc.

Emmanuel Macron is an idiot. He’s never going to get his “closer and faster integration”. His “vision of a new Europe” is a pot smoker’s pipe dream. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. None of them know what they’re doing.

Europe is going to disintegrate. And it’s going to disintegrate because there’s nothing holding it together. It’s broken.

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About Frank Davis

smoker
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15 Responses to Broken

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Hi Frank, having just returned from Vienna i can recommend it to you. Very smoker friendly. Smoking bars everywhere. 700 tabacs in Vienna alone. Cigarettes around 5 – 6 euros a pack. Huge choice of cigs and eu version of packs with branding and wonderful George Karelias ‘Excellence’ at 6.50 euros a pack. You would enjoy it ! Good beer too !

    • RdM says:

      And RYO prices, brands varieties selections available, prices, did you notice?
      (I realise that it’s a rather trivial question! But thanks if you have any input anyway!)
      Cheers!

      Ah, international travel…

      I just spoke earlier this evening with an NZ friend who in a couple of days is going to do the 18hr non-stop flight Auckland-Doha, layover for some hours, then another six to Sarajevo, with his partner who hails from that region… to stay for 3 months.

      We spoke of Hungary too, resisting the refugee onslaught and reviled in the EU &or international MSM press for it?

      Cheap tobacco in Croatia, Serbia et al as well.
      Don’t know about Hungary. But probably. I haven’t looked recently.

      But they did have their own production I think, as also once was in Sarajevo.

      Meanwhile, this delightful Hungarian folk song from 1958… with her face.
      Stefi Ákos – Mariguana cha cha

      And another rendition, with more exotic visuals…

      But as the comments make clear, it’s not actually about the drug, herb…

      It’s actually about an island in the Caribbean, perhaps an escape to it!

    • Carol42 says:

      Did they have Black Russian!

  2. RdM says:

    Sorry if I appeared flippant with first comments (in reply to Mr. TG).

    Yes, it’s hideous, and from your link to
    [Macron, Merkel Call for ‘Full Force’ EU Integration, Vow Brussels Won’t Tolerate Resistance to Migrant Quotas]
    in the 2nd to last paragraph,

    Merkel warned the bloc should do everything to guard against “narrow-minded, backward-looking nationalisms and authoritarian temptations.”

    Oh, the irony!

    And from the last paragraph,

    On the same day, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán used his inaugural speech in Budapest to denounce the EU superstate envisioned by France and Germany as a “nightmare”.

    Good on him!
    Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions
    https://euobserver.com/political/141793

    Bones break depending on the angle of attack…
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bone-resilience-depends-o/

  3. Clicky says:

  4. beobrigitte says:

    And I think our society is broken. And I was there watching when it broke. Britain got broken on 1 July 2007. And the engine that broke it was the force of law that came into effect with the public smoking ban.
    I think you are right, Frank. That day a huge wedge was driven into the fabric of society. Communities begun to fall apart with the result of more and more people living a lonely, excluded life. That huge wedge caused further cracks, one big one is clearly visible amongst age groups of which the group (I have just randomly picked) of the “you-will-stop-smoking-or-no-more-routine-medical-care” elderly get a double whammy. Their state pension (for which they have paid on a monthly basis over 40 years) cannot keep up with the steadily rising cost of living, let alone the rising “sin” taxes. The anti-smokers promise a 10 year longer life, a life lived as a lonely non-person (who does still take notice of a 60+ person unless this person does something outrageous?), relying on anti-smoking medics who have the power to withhold e.g. surgery for age related ailments to FORCE you to comply with THEIR ideology. Next stop is a “Hell’s Entry” nursing home – of course as a non-person and bed blocker – where your bed time is pre-determined whether you’re tired or not from staring at a bamboo coloured wall all day. Or the BBC news.
    In society there used to be communities whose people looked after each other. Now individuals are busy berating each other for not having given up smoking/eating fat/eating sugar etc. etc.
    The anti-smokers’ blueprint for manipulating politicians to get the smoking ban has opened up countless opportunities for others. Who ever does not fit into their body-adoring ideology is just collateral damage.
    Incidentally, what are the anti-smokers doing about this?
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-elderly-people-surges-100-seven-years-local-government-association-a7997086.html
    Give them dubious smoking cessation “aids”?

    For most people it was a non-event. Most people weren’t watching. There was no loud bang with stuff flying in all directions. There was no insurrection. There were no riots. It scarcely even made the news.
    I do remember the BBC bleating a week before the enforcement of the smoking ban. I guess none of us took it seriously until we learned the extortionate fines for non-complying pub landlords. By then the poisonous anti-smoker filaments had secured their presence leeching government(s).

    But I think Britain got broken that day. And it wasn’t the only country that got broken. Both Scotland and Ireland had been broken a few years before. And so had France and Spain and Italy and Holland. There’s hardly any country in Europe that hasn’t been broken. Austria hasn’t been broken. And only bits of Germany – like Bavaria – have been broken.
    As you said, Frank, cracks cause breakage or collapse. And societies everywhere can only take a certain amount of pressure before something has to give. I can see globalisation going out the window simply because people are too busy re-building their local community.

    (Sorry about the lengthy rant – I tried to keep it short. There is a lot more!!!)

  5. Clicky says:

  6. waltc says:

    I agree that society is fractured, here as well as there. And while the ban may have been the first jarring ram (one that seemingly only affected the smokers–and note, I said seemingly) the blows at the hands of the progressive elites have kept coming and coming, affecting more and more people whose values and traditions, autonomy and standing, and plain common sense have been under relentless unending attack. And you don’t unite society by calling half of it deplorable.

    Otoh, I think the juggernaut has broken too many smokers. In a thread elsewhere, a smoker (who signed a no-smoking lease on one of the city’s last few affordable apartments, and has obeyed those strictures) confided that he got a summary (be out in two weeks) eviction notice because a neighbor incorrectly accused him of having smoked in his house. Another guy who says he lives in the same building, then posted this:

    “This is a no smoking building, he’s my neighbor. All the new buildings in NYC are being made no smoking. What it comes down to, [X] is outside with the rest of us smokers, tornadoes, Blizzards, Hurricanes, we are outside doing what we like and that is smoking. The landlord bases their charges on a complaint from some tenant, then the porter comes up and smells and confirms the odor. This is not scientific. If someone is at other end of building and opens a window and is smoking, the wind tunnel here will blow everything to the other side of the building. So no one can say for sure who’s smoking”

    Sounds to me as though the system has broken these guys who are merely left to boast that they defiantly obey the irrational rules by going outside to smoke in hurricanes and blizzards. And who merely protest that they didn’t commit the crime as though smoking were a crime. Though I myself would leave the city in a heartbeat if faced with those sanctions, I don’t know their circumstances and find it hard to judge them except with shock and pity and am also forced to agree that sooner or later, as the tanks keep rolling on through the country, unimpeded and cheered, there may be no final safe haven left.

  7. Pingback: I Heard It On The Grapevine | Frank Davis

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