Which brings me back to this Wednesday afternoon, when I walked the dog down the hill — and saw, to my delight, that our local had reopened at last.
Inside, there were four staff members but not a single customer (although I later found a handful smoking in the garden when I, too, slipped out for a cigarette). At least this meant I wouldn’t have to wait for my drink. Or so I thought.
I sanitised my hands by the door, as instructed, and went up to the bar where I asked Maddie for my pint.
Good to see someone identify themselves as a smoker. It would have been easy to miss out that small detail.
I haven’t been outside my flat for months. So I have no experience of visiting pubs in the wake of Covid-19. Does one really have to “sanitise one’s hands”?
There is no annoyance in life, however, that politicians can’t strive to make worse. Sure enough, a cross-party group of anti-smoking fanatics at Westminster is hatching a conspiracy to make visiting the pub even less appealing to regulars than it is today, with all those inflated prices and new restrictions.
So far, so good. But then:
Yes, I know smoking is terribly bad for me (whatever protection it may offer from Covid-19). I know, too, some people loathe it, and I’m always careful to show them consideration, particularly when they’re eating. Meanwhile, I applaud the one million who are said to have given up since the lockdown began. All I can say is that they’re much stronger willed than I.
Alas, this is the usual surrender.
It’s a surrender I’ll never make. I don’t believe that smoking is “terribly bad for me.” And I don’t “applaud the one million who are said to have given up since the lockdown began.” Also I don’t think they’re “much stronger willed than I.” Given the current exclusion and demonisation of smokers, it seems to me that these days you have to be strong-willed to carry on smoking, not to stop smoking.
The simple truth is that the prohibitionists don’t just want to stop people smoking outside pubs: they want to close down pubs as well. They hate alcohol just as much as they hate tobacco. They hate food as well. They hate everything that is enjoyable. They’re killjoys. That’s all there is to it.
I don’t believe anything they say about tobacco or alcohol or food, however much it’s dressed up in statistical arguments.
Anyway it looks like Covid-19 will be used to kill off another 20% of Britain’s pubs. The killjoys will be delighted.