A Pub Garden Conversation

I occasionally get talking to people in pub gardens. And yesterday was one of those days. I got talking to some people who I’ve occasionally talked to before. One of them had even completed my ISIS smokers’ survey years before.

They were all sitting out in the pub garden with drinks and cigarettes. And when I joined them they were talking about plastic bottles floating around in the world’s oceans. All of them seemed to be agreed that we humans were driving the world’s whales to extinction with the millions of plastic bags and bottles we’d deposited in the sea. One of them said that a whale had been washed up somewhere, and found to be chock full of plastic. All seemed gloomily agreed that we were destroying the world.

I demurred. I said that whatever us humans did, this world would continue to exist for a lot longer than we ever would. And I wondered out loud where all the plastic bottles were coming from. One of them said that they were being dumped at sea by ships, rather than brought back to land.

The conversation rambled on into other topics, And it eventually got round to Trump and Brexit. All conversations always eventually arrive up at Trump and Brexit. And by then a couple of the others had wandered off somewhere, and there were just two of us left talking.

I said that I liked Donald Trump. And that I’d voted for Brexit. She said she didn’t like Trump. She thought he was an “egoist”, and only out for himself. And she hadn’t voted for Brexit, and thought Britain would be “stronger in Europe”. I agreed that Trump was a bit full of himself, but I couldn’t stand Hillary. She said she couldn’t stand Hillary either. Nobody liked her. And I said that Europe was going to break up. And she agreed. The whole thing was falling apart.

She also wasn’t bothered by immigration. “Would you stop people coming to England?” she asked. “Sure,” I said. “Why should we let absolutely anyone come in?”

In short, we completely disagreed about almost anything. But, sitting drinking and smoking, it was a perfectly amicable disagreement. And it’s always more interesting talking to people who you disagree with than it is talking to people you agree with. And she was interested too. She said she could talk to me for hours.

She asked me what TV I watched. I said I didn’t have a TV. I said I’d stopped watching TV a long time ago. I’d also stopped reading newspapers. I said that after the UK smoking ban, I’d changed completely. I said I used to be a bit left wing, but that had ended with the smoking ban. I said I had been quite pro-EU, but that all ended with the smoking ban too. I said I’d changed completely. I’d been turned upside down.

She listened attentively. She said that her father had been a communist. He’d even been to visit the Soviet Union in 1929. I think she said this in order to establish that she belonged on the political left, although I also felt that if you are a communist you probably don’t spend half your life sitting in pub gardens quaffing very large glasses of iced white wine, smoking cigarettes, and talking about whales.

It’s very unusual for any of these pub garden conversations to arrive up at the smoking ban. Trump and Brexit are pretty much standard topics of conversation. Maybe whales and plastic bottles too. But the smoking ban is something that nobody ever talks about. Perhaps because that’s the reason they’re all sitting outside in the first place, and it’s unmentionable.

And in these conversations I don’t usually mention it either. I’m quite happy to talk about plastic bottles and Donald Trump and the EU. But odds are that anyone who talks to me for an hour or so – and by this time we had been talking for an hour or so – will find the smoking ban getting a mention. People talk about whatever’s on their minds. And the smoking ban is something that’s always on my mind, like a stone in one of the shoes I’m wearing.

She didn’t say anything about the smoking ban. But I knew that it had almost certainly affected her adversely. For that was one of the principal findings of the survey: smokers were adversely affected by it in all sorts of ways. That’s pretty universal. But it’s also pretty universal that they don’t talk about it, even if they’re only sitting outside talking because of the smoking ban.

It’s a strange non-topic of conversation: smoking bans. And I think it’s because it’s a non-topic of conversation in the mainstream media. They never discuss it. And this is really why I don’t watch TV or read newspapers: they never talk about the one thing that really, really matters to me. So why should I listen to them?

After all, if they were all talking about plastic bags and bottles, it was probably because there’d been something on TV about whales full of plastic bags and bottles, and about how we were exterminating them, and how we were destroying the whole planet with our selfish, greedy consumption of all the stuff that comes in plastic bags or bottles, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. That’s standard stuff on BBC TV these days. And everyone ends up feeling ashamed and apologetic. And not just ashamed and apologetic about plastic bottles, but also about more or less everything else, including the carbon dioxide they exhale with every breath they take.

But I don’t watch TV. So I feel no shame.

Anyway she seemed puzzled what I did if I didn’t have a TV. I said I was very busy with all sorts of things. I said that I was working on a theory of ice ages. She took that in her stride without batting an eyelid. I guess she realised that she was talking to someone who didn’t think like she did at all: just the kind of guy who’d be interested in ice ages. Whatever next, huh?

But by then I’d given her a lift home, and was dropping her outside her house. “Doesn’t all the ice just melt anyway eventually?” she asked, as she got out of the car.

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to A Pub Garden Conversation

  1. RdM says:

    Slightly OT

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/06/20/why-the-right-should-espouse-climate-realism/

    A comment by commieBob complains that it was
    4,587 words. The English does not lie easily on the North American ear.

    I think of
    https://www.theonion.com/nation-shudders-at-large-block-of-uninterrupted-text-1819571366

    Personally, I like to read the strangeness of the translated French text, it’s interesting…

  2. RooBeeDoo2 says:

    Scotland plans to be ‘smoke-free’ by 2034, and a raft of measures to achieve this lofty goal were published yesterday:

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/radical-new-plans-revealed-to-turn-scotland-smoke-free-by-2034-1-4757543

  3. buckothemoose says:

    In my experience, folk always talk about the smoking ban when are in the smoking ‘shelters’. If we go to the pub, we normally smoke while walking between pubs, but if we end up staying for more than one pint, we will go out for a smoke
    Young people never seem to mention the ban, but if we walk into a smoking area with people our age or older in it, someone inevitably starts a conversation with us by saying, “Bollocks this, innt?”.
    Then we spend ten minutes complaining about the ban before going back in

    • Frank Davis says:

      Funny that. Round here nobody ever mentions it. But I’m talking about people aged 65+. If I ever mention it, I’m usually greeted with dead silence, as if it were something unmentionable in polite company. Most of them seem to pretend it never happened..

      I can understand young people mot talking about it, because all they’ve ever known is the smoking ban. For them it’s normal.

      • buckothemoose says:

        Yeah, it’s wierd with young people. They’ve never known pubs that allowed smoking and now, we’re getting pubs opening in town, post smoking ban, that have never had smokers in ever. That’s why it will be so hard to get a repeal; there is a generation growing up who have no idea what all the fuss is about

        • beobrigitte says:

          Right now I keep the subject “smoking” alive – I announce it, I talk about tobacco and I point out that people like me pay a voluntary, extortionate tax in addition to their monthly contribution taken from their salary until retirement that for us baby-boomers (funnily enough) comes at least 7 years later than planned. We all live longer nowadays, we’re being told, smoker or non-smoker.
          When you tell this youngsters, you can hear some rusty cogs in their minds moving.

          We just need to keep the subject “smoking” alive, and talk about it as we used to do.
          I do have a non-smoking friend who has a smoking room in her house as she thinks that no hosts should send their smoking guests outside the door. Last Saturday I talked to a non-smoker who does not mind people smoking around him and is an opponent of smoking bans.
          In Germany there is a forum “Considerate Smoking” (Forum Rücksichtsvoll Rauchen )
          in which there are videos of people talking about smoking. I am surprised to watch quite a number of non-smokers saying that the smoking ban (and it’s extensions) is a step too far.

          (the spoken language is German and the first 45 seconds or so about the Publisher’s Night)

          We just need to not allow the anti-smokers silencing the subject “smoking”.

        • Frank Davis says:

          That’s why it will be so hard to get a repeal; there is a generation growing up who have no idea what all the fuss is about

          Maybe. On the other hand, what happens when these young people discover the pleasure of being able to sit at a table in a bar or restaurant and eat and drink and smoke?. I think they’re likely to say, “Wow! This is so much better!”

          So if the smoking ban gets relaxed at all, and smoking rooms or smoking pubs, they’ll all far prefer to spend their time in the smoking rooms or smoking pubs. One crack in the ban, and it will shatter,

        • buckothemoose says:

          You’re probably spot on. It’s just getting over that first hurdle that’s going to be the real problem

    • beobrigitte says:

      if we walk into a smoking area with people our age or older in it, someone inevitably starts a conversation with us by saying, “Bollocks this, innt?”.
      Then we spend ten minutes complaining about the ban before going back in

      Yep, here it’s the same, too. And the younger ones there listen carefully, especially when I use my standard: “How the hell did all these infertile women and impotent men manage to create us baby-boomers, and how come we’re still happily alive?”

  4. Rose says:

    I found this today.

    WWI reverend dubbed ‘Woodbine Willie’ spent almost his entire salary on 865,000 cigarettes for sick and dying soldiers, says new research
    20 June 2018

    “Woodbines, which were strong and unfiltered, were not widely available on the Western Front and were considered as gold dust in the trenches.
    Historians have long known that Studdert Kennedy ‘administered’ his own cigarettes to men on the frontline to boost morale.
    Records also show that he regularly ventured – unarmed – into No Man’s Land, often under heavy machine gun and artillery fire, to give dying troops one final ‘gasper’.”

    “Clutching his Bible for protection, the ‘Battlefield Saint’ would whisper the Lord’s Prayer and hold their hands until the end.
    His selfless bravery, particularly at the Battle of Messines, earned him a Military Cross from King George V and the affectionate, lasting nickname, ‘Woodbine Willie’.”

    “In December 1915, he was stationed at a railway station in Rouen, France, where he held communion with the troops, penned letters for the illiterate, and prayed with and for young soldiers.
    When they left for the frontline, he gave them copies of the New Testament and, to the 96 per cent of soldiers who smoked, one or more Woodbine cigarettes.

    Troops were issued with two ounces of cheap rolling tobacco with their rations, but supply was irregular.
    While ready-rolled cigarettes like Woodbines were sometimes available from The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), they were expensive and highly prized among the working classes.”

    “He routinely prayed with dying soldiers on the frontline and was awarded the Military Cross after running through ‘murderous machine gun-fire’ at Messines Ridge to deliver morphine to men screaming in agony in No Man’s Land – a role he was not expected to do or paid for.”

    “His chief relaxations were tea drinking and cigarette smoking and it was his practice to offer the traditional smoke to any soldier he met.’
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5865655/WWI-chaplain-Woodbine-Willie-spent-entire-salary-865-000-cigarettes-sick-troops.html

    As I no longer visit pubs I’m unlikely to met anyone there, but I have given a brief rundown of the plant chemistry to interested fellow smokers when sharing an outside table at a cafe.

  5. beobrigitte says:

    They were all sitting out in the pub garden with drinks and cigarettes. And when I joined them they were talking about plastic bottles floating around in the world’s oceans. All of them seemed to be agreed that we humans were driving the world’s whales to extinction with the millions of plastic bags and bottles we’d deposited in the sea.
    I disagree with throwing our plastic rubbish (indeed, it cause damage to individual animals) along with food surplus into the sea.
    To me it makes sense to look after the place as it also feeds us. The same applies to looking after the soil that feeds us. And why can’t we treat the animals, again, that feed us, with more respect?

    Also, whales generally do not beach themselves because “they-are-hungry” or “they-are-suicidal”. They orient themselves on the earth’s magnetic field and this nowadays tends to fluctuate a little.
    Nothing to do with humans.

    Do we need an industry that tells us constantly that we’re killing the planet whilst syphoning off as much public cash as it can, so more and more people end up buying food that could be a ‘Soylent Green’ equivalent? I don’t think so. We also don’t need a food standardisation, e.g. cucumbers have to have a certain size and must be straight. It’s just that nowadays very few people have questions, the constant drizzling of the sheeples works wonders.

    She didn’t say anything about the smoking ban. But I knew that it had almost certainly affected her adversely. For that was one of the principal findings of the survey: smokers were adversely affected by it in all sorts of ways. That’s pretty universal. But it’s also pretty universal that they don’t talk about it, even if they’re only sitting outside talking because of the smoking ban.
    The anti-smokers are working hard on making smoking a non-subject to talk about by attaching in their constant drizzling the sheeple a stigma on smokers. I talk openly about cigarettes, smoking and that I have no plans to become a burden for my offspring. I can only hope that my departure date is before my offspring has to take care of me but I can’t guarantee it.
    So much for “smoking kills”.

  6. Rose says:

    One of the few things I already knew before I started my research on the chemistry of tobacco and tobacco smoke, was that they gave a cigarette to a wounded soldier, almost as battlefield first aid while waiting for the medics, which rather puzzled me.

    Since then I have found out that there is an antidepressant in tobacco smoke, discovered relatively recently during Parkinson’s research and that the WHO already knows about it, though they use it as yet another reason to beat up smokers.

    Smoking May Act as an Antidepressant Drug
    https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/342-credulous-idiots/#comment-112456

    Though nicotine has been found to act as a painkiller, I don’t think it would help much if you have been shot to bits.

    Nicotine, Chili Peppers Offer Post-Surgery Pain Relief
    https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4509044&page=1

    The story also reminded me of how it was always polite to offer someone a cigarette and my embarrassment when I realised that after 11 years of exile from society, I had completely forgotten my manners and not offered one of my cigarettes to Frank when I met him.

    I do apologise, I had hand-rolled them very neatly so that I could.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I didn’t notice at all. And I didn’t offer to roll you one of mine.

      • Rose says:

        Just shows us how far we’ve slipped. Mind you, 11 years ago it was more likely to be a factory made, quality controlled, sensibly packaged, branded cigarette with no blood curdling images on it.

        • Frank Davis says:

          To be honest, I don’t remember ever offering people any of my roll-ups. Or ever having anyone offer me one of their roll-ups. In many ways a roll-up is very much a personal cigarette, and everyone used to roll their own. If you offered them anything, it was the tobacco and papers for them to roll their own. You’d only roll cigarettes for them if they didn’t know how.

          It’s different with manufactured cigarettes, which are impersonal things. They used to get offered around. So in some ways what you’ve been doing is to try to transfer the culture of impersonal manufactured cigarettes to the different culture of personal roll-ups. And you were behaving perfectly properly by not offering me one of your roll-ups. The only thing you might have dome would have been to offer me some of your tobacco and papers. But since I had my own, you didn’t need to do that.

  7. Vlad says:

    How times have changed…now they send them Prozac and Champix

  8. garyk30 says:

    Social Justice Warriors tell us that we must have ‘diversity’ and equality’; but, smoking bans definitely do not promote such lofty goals.

    Anti-smokers should be tried for ‘hate crimes’ against humanity.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Anti-smokers should be tried for ‘hate crimes’ against humanity.
      Harsh words I find myself not disagreeing with. Recently I did experience the social damage the anti-smoking industry is guilty of. There is nothing I could contribute to their defence but plenty to the prosecution.

      Social Justice Warriors tell us that we must have ‘diversity’ and equality’
      Diversity as in smokers and non-smokers together? Equality as in smoking/non-smoking males/females/different nationalities together?
      Double whammy for me: female and smoker. Which bit makes me less equal?

  9. waltc says:

    I imagine that for exiled smokers, the ban is the elephant in the room–that room they’re no longer allowed in. It’s the tacit symbol that they’re literally outcasts, a deep wound to the ego, a status hard to swallow. I wonder if the Jews in Germany, banned from public parks, forced to only let their children play among the foliage of Jewish cemeteries, talked about antisemitism as they sat togeter on the cemetery benches, or tried instead to assume an air of normalcy–as though it hadn’t happened, as though they were normal people just out getting some air.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Well, it’s exactly like it was for Jews in Nazi Germany. And I’m sure that plenty of them tried to carry on as if nothing was happening, and life was just the same as before.

      The thing I notice most of all is how smokers have become invisible. They’re completely ignored. And my guess is that this was what happened in Nazi Germany with the Jews: most people completely ignored them. Out of sight was out of mind.

      And that was probably why it came as a terrible shock to many Germans to suddenly find out what had been happening. I think it’s going to come as a terrible shock to a lot of non-smokers to find out that they’ve been doing the same as many Germans in Nazi Germany..

      • Joe L. says:

        And my guess is that this was what happened in Nazi Germany with the Jews: most people completely ignored them. Out of sight was out of mind.

        I think you’re right. And I also think many Jews probably didn’t openly talk about it with one another (like many smokers today do not) because they a.) felt defeated and they believed no amount of talking about their plight could make a difference and b.) they yearned to live as close to a “normal” life as possible; they didn’t want to dwell on how dire their situations were.

        When faced with a 3-ton elephant in the room, the majority of people will either leave the room (i.e., quit smoking–unlike Jews, who didn’t have the option to quit being Jewish), or simply ignore the elephant and try their damndest to live as normal a life as possible.

        Sadly, when faced with widespread, socially-accepted discrimination, very few people are willing to speak up and fight for themselves.

  10. Scot says:

    “They include the prospect of “tobacco-free” clauses in tenancy agreements for people living in council and housing association homes, which will now be explored by ministers and social landlords. There could also be “smoke-free” housing alternatives offered in social housing.”

    Jeez, its was only a month or two ago that ASH Scotland gave a vehement denial they would be even considering such a move, guess I’m supposed to have mis-remembered that press release then?

    Also – if Sheila Duffy / or ASH (S) wish to pay my rent for me, then fine, otherwise they can wind their fucking necks in, thanks.

  11. smokingscot says:

    Your companion was correct about the whale, however it was a small, immature Pilot Whale, found in a canal in Thailand.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/02/whale-dies-thailand-swallowing-80-plastic-bags/

    This is 100% not their natural habitat, so while there’s no doubt about the plastic bags, they were not the type you’d find in a supermarket (80 poly bags of that type do not weigh 8 kgs, that’s 100gr per bag). The real question is why did the creature do this?

    Probably because it was seriously ill already, however that would not fit with the narrative, hence the lack of interest in conducting a post-mortem examination.

    And why most casual readers might overlook the weight of the bags, that sound suspiciously like the type used for agricultural chemicals or fertilisers.

  12. Smoking Lamp says:

    Smokers are becoming a ‘hidden class’. You don’t see many at first glance, but as you move around you see many usually in parking lots or behind stores. The numbers of smokers are certainly larger than the antismoker claims–even among young smokers.

    Outside bars throughout the US you can see smokers huddled around the smoking pole (a hideous new age ash try that allegedly protects non-smokers from toxic butts). When you ask the sound smokers what they think about bans they usually say it’s not worth fighting because the system is falling apart anyway. Older smokers tend to avoid the question–perhaps the legacy of relentless persecution.

    n any event smoking just be presented as normal (it always was) and spoken about to deny the antismokers the pleasure of eradicating their fellow citizens.

  13. Pingback: The Inevitable Failure of Utopian Social Engineering Projects | Frank Davis

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