The first thing I read today:
His wife, Sam, packed up their life by herself because Mr Cameron said he could not bear to go back to Downing Street.
After packing the last box, she put on some music, rolled a cigarette and danced around the kitchen – just as Mrs May and her husband Philip walked in. “I roared with laughter,” he added.
I knew David Cameron smoked, although he concealed the fact throughout his premiership. I didn’t know his wife smoked too. Furthermore I didn’t know she smoked roll-ups. Nor did I know that she smoked them indoors.
Theresa May was another smoker. Maybe her husband was too. Perhaps they were all smoking cigarettes in the kitchen of 10, Downing Street that day.
None of them did anything for Britain’s smokers, of course. In fact they continued with their persecution. They were all hypocrites, publicly pretending not to be smokers while they privately carried on smoking.
David Cameron said that the government would do the bidding of the British people in the EU referendum. But the first thing he did was to resign as Prime Minister when the result wasn’t what he expected. And that was another piece of hypocrisy. Saying one thing, doing something else.
I spent a while talking with an ex-paratrooper yesterday afternoon, sat in the sunshine outside a local pub. He was smoking roll-ups just like mine. At one point he asked me whether I put filters in them, and I said I didn’t. He seemed very concerned about this. “You know what the consequences will be.”
It emerged that this battered and grizzled Falklands veteran believed everything that he’d ever heard about the dangers of smoking.
I said that I no longer believed anything I was told about tobacco or alcohol or sugar or salt. Because, well, I don’t.
But he seemed unable to contemplate the idea that it was all nonsense, and repeated his dire warning.
Afterwards I wondered why some people were so credulous, and why some were so incredulous. Perhaps it was just different understanding, different experience. He was someone who could strip down and re-assemble an AK47 in a matter of seconds – something I wouldn’t have had a clue how to do. But I was someone who could solve simultaneous equations in a matter of seconds – something he probably wouldn’t have had a clue how to do. I trust soldiers to know what they’re doing, and he trusted mathematicians and researchers to know what they were doing. So he believed what the boffins told him about the dangers of smoking, and an ex-university researcher like me didn’t.
It’s probably the same everywhere. The more you know about something, the more critical you become. So if you’re an expert chef, and you sit down in a restaurant somewhere, you’ll immediately notice if the potatoes are undercooked, and the cabbage overcooked, and the mustard too sharp. You notice because you’ve been doing it all your life. And if you haven’t been doing it all your life, you don’t notice: you just eat what’s put in front of you.
The grizzled old war veteran may have possessed many skills, but he knew next to nothing about science and research. So he just ate was put in front of him. He swallowed it all unquestioningly.
A politician like David Cameron no doubt also possesses many skills, but he probably knows next to nothing about science and research. So he probably swallows what he’s told unquestioningly as well. And so does more or less everyone else.