I almost met her at Stony Stratford. I was sat at a table with a beer and a cigarette, and she passed by my table, and said “Hi Frank,” as she sailed on by. But that’s what Stony Stratford was like with pretty much everyone else as well.
But Emily has been talking to Pat Nurse:
I’m always glad to see smokers talking to each other. In fact I think it’s about the most important thing they can do, because the more they talk to each other, the greater the solidarity that they will feel with each other, and the easier it will become for them to speak out on each others’ behalf.
Pat Nurse used to write a blog: Tea and Cigarettes. And the first question Emily asked her was why she stopped writing it.
The first answer Pat gave was that she didn’t want her journalistic employment prospects prejudiced by it. And the second answer was that she didn’t want to keep on moaning.
As a blogger in the exact same line of business, all I can say is that I’ve never been worried about my employment prospects, because I’ve never been needing to look for work. I’m 70 years old now, and regard myself as pretty well retired from my working life as a self-employed computer programmer (although that doesn’t stop me from carrying on writing computer programs).
But I could understand her concern. Yet I couldn’t help but think that there were plenty of other politically incorrect things one can do, which might prejudice one’s employment prospects. Voting for Brexit, for example.
And if outspoken smokers might find it hard to find employment, then what about outspoken antismokers? Shouldn’t they be worried too? Shouldn’t they be a bit worried that one day their past will catch up with them? After all, someone like me would like to see the senior ranks of the medical profession completely purged of antismoking zealots. If I had anything to do with it, they’d all lose their jobs tomorrow morning. And Tobacco Control would be destroyed. Do they all think that the wind only blows one way? Can’t they imagine a time when the hatred and animosity that they’ve shown towards smokers comes back to haunt them? Because I think it will. I think that many of the most prominent antismokers are going to have to flee like Nazi war criminals. In fact, I think it’s inevitable. But then, Nazi war criminals probably never thought that their past would one day catch up with them.
And as for moaning? I wake up every day thinking about the smoking ban. That’s just how it is. It’s like waking up every morning and feeling the shattered stump of your leg which got blown off at Passchendaele 11 years ago. It’s a profound injury. It never goes away. It still aches a bit every time you strap on the tin leg.
George Godber once said that “smokers will be petulant for a while” after smoking was banned:
“Need there really be any difficulty about prohibiting smoking in more public places? The nicotine addicts would be petulant for a while, but why should we accord them any right to make the innocent suffer?”
Well, Godber was wrong. It’s been over 11 years since the introduction of the UK smoking ban, and I’m still petulant after all these years. And how could I not be? On 1 July 2007, I was expelled from society, and I became an exile in my own land. And it’s a profound and terrible thing to do to people – to make exiles of them. And I feel my exile every day. And my exile only ever gets deeper as the years pass.
I’m not moaning about it. You’re moaning about something if you’re just saying the same thing over and over again. That’s what moaning is. But I’m always taking a new look at the experience of exile. Every morning I return to it from a new angle. Every morning I have a different take on it. I’m quite creative about my exile. I’m always dreaming up new ways in which to fight the bastards in Tobacco Control. And I long for the day when they in their turn will become exiles themselves on Desolation Island. For that day will one day come.
Anyway, Pat Nurse then went on to say that smokers needed to have a voice of their own, and be included in the public debate, but there was nobody speaking for them. But surely people only get a voice of their own when they open their mouths and speak? Or when they write? Or, more particularly, when they write blogs?
But Pat doesn’t want that sort of voice. She wants her voice heard in the corridors of power in government. She wants conference tables on which there are not just assigned seats for antismoking zealots like Deborah Arnott, but confirmed smokers like Pat Nurse, both given equal time to have their say.
It’s not what I want. I don’t want to talk to a filthy little shit like Deborah Arnott. I wouldn’t even want to be in the same room as that poisonous reptile. And I was very sorry for Dmitri Kosyrev when he found himself sitting right next to her at some conference a year or two ago. How horrible!
No, I don’t want to talk to these bastards. And I don’t need to. Because I know they’re reading my blog, because they’ve got a page devoted to me on Tobacco Tactics. I don’t actually have to be in the same room with them to have my voice heard.
And that’s because we’re living in a different world than the one we were living in 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, if you wanted to get heard, you had to attend the conferences and debates in Hull or Grimsby or Workington, because otherwise you’d never get heard. But with the arrival of the internet, everyone can have a voice, and be heard all around the world. You don’t have to go to Grimsby any more. You don’t have to go to the conferences. You don’t have to get your hand-painted protest placards in front of the BBC TV cameras.
You don’t need to get your face in the mainstream media to be heard any more. The mainstream media are melting away. A month or two ago, in one of his YouTube videos, (not this one) Lionel Nation said: “We are the mainstream media now.” And by “we” he meant people like him, sat in front of webcams with microphones, talking: people like Alex Jones, and Jordan Peterson, and the whole galaxy of new faces that have emerged in the online media, faces who could never have managed to get a hearing in the MSM. And he was quite right. The mainstream has divided into an infinite number of streams, like a river arriving at its delta. The BBC is becoming just one little stream among a million streams. And if you want to get heard, you make a video, and hope that it gets a few likes, and a few comments, and maybe a mention in one or two blogs.
Like Emily and her interview of Pat Nurse, which I’m sure lots of smokers will want to watch. They’ll never find anything like it on the BBC. They won’t find it on Alex Jones either. But they will find it here.