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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

New-ish kids on the blog

From the early days of the outragous UK smoking ban I started this blog with the help and encouragement from the good members of Freedom2Choose. Five years have passed and this madness continues and indeed thrives due to the vagaries of anti smokers and the likes of ASH et al.

Anyway since my wife's passing my interest in all things smoking ban have waned although the smoking ban still makes my blood boil. Thankfully the good bods at Freedom2Choose decided to take over the mantle and have built an excellent site here. Please give them a visit and do comment.

I am thinking about changing the name of this blog and continuing at some later date. Of course this blog will remain stoutly against the ban and for the smoker and any freedom lover who partakes of tobacco, wine or good food.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Much Ado about “Snipers and Flappers!”

A recent post entitled ‘Sniper the Flappers’ appeared here. The purpose of the post was to be satirical and the author meant it to be light hearted. If some readers took the post seriously and were offended then it is a matter of regret.

Some of the offence can only be described as faux. A recent report* from the Department of Health authored by Professor Hilary Graham has criticised anti-smoker organisations - by implication, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) - for turning smokers into lepers, stigmatising them and making them into a despised underclass. Quite rightly this situation would never be allowed to happen to ethnic minorities and gay people.

Not only that: since Kenneth Clarke was Chancellor in 1994, tobacco taxes have specifically been ring fenced to pay for the NHS via the Department of Health. Hence smokers’ own taxes are being used to demonise their pastime against themselves, and to offer anti-smoker groups like ASH an income to discriminate against a lawful product and its customers.

Any offence is regretted, but similar regrets would be welcomed from the anti-smokers for the appalling way they have treated and are still treating people who smoke.

*Smoking, Stigma and Social Class.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The domino effect and the demise of The Publican trade newspaper.

I have been out of the loop recently as far as all things smoking bans are concerned and you all know why. Freedom2Choose and it's members have pulled me back to reality and out of my grief in such a short time, but they do not know it. I will start anew with a tweet I received from that esteemed blogger Dick Puddlecote today. The tweet refers to one Pete Robinson who ran a blog on The Publican.

Pete Robinson was a lone voice to his employers and was treated with comtempt, I am sure, by The Publican's shiny new (as was) City and Business Editor of The Publican Hamish Champ, an ex smoker. Pete Robinson was a must read by us who opposed the smoking ban and made strident calls for the ban to be amended, again to deaf ears so far. Pete Robinson had his ear to the ground and knew what would make or break a pub whereas Hamish Champ, an ex smoker remember, championed landlords/ladies who went Gastro and served food as their savour. Just like the anti smoking myth and lie that non smokers would flock to pubs after the ban and keep them afloat this too was a downright lie. Where is Hamish Champ now? Pete Robinson explains:

And what of Hamish Champ, the smoke-hater's friend? Poor Hamish now edits Plastics & Rubber Weekly, a mind-numbingly boring industrial rag based in glorious downtown Croydon. The only excitement comes on Thursday afternoons when the new paperclips arrive. A hotline to The Samaritans comes as a perk of the job.

You can watch and listen to Hamish Champ speaking in 2008, just shortly before the so called "credit crunch" took center stage and knocked the smoking ban into a cocked hat. He waxes lyrical about food led pubs, which Pete Robinson reasonably poo poos.

'Embrace' the smoking ban we were told. Just do food and everything will be okay. Up your game, open a library/post office/cinema in your pub. Set aside a lunchtime for expectant mothers or an evening for transvestite grandads.

Just offer 'excellence' then watch the customers come running.

How do you 'evolve' to a 33% to 80% drop in takings? Even if it were possible for the country to sustain 40-odd-thousand foodie pub-restaurants, for many it was madness to invest a fortune in pricey catering equipment when local competitors were offering £2.99 two-for-one deals.

In truth the customers we've lost don't want excellence. Most pub goers couldn't give a toss about fine dining, health emporiums, creches, drop-in centres or gymnasiums. They simply want to be treated like adults. They want their old pubs back, warts an' all.

Exactly Pete, my Mrs, god bless her, loved the experience of being taken out to a country pub somewhere and having a drink with a nice lunch or dinner and seen it as one of the treats of life but when she went shopping or wanted to go to her local then all she wanted to do was have a drink and a smoke in comfort, despite the local dickheads that the landlord/lady gave short shrift to. She liked a game of pool (she was very good at pool) and talk to friends she had built up over the years at the local...all that was taken away from her and she couldn't understand why. But you did Pete..
I have taken a couple of paragraphs from Pete's eulogy to The Publican out of context but you can read the full story over at the Freedom2Choose front page, it makes excellent reading and forces you ask "why did these trade papers bury their collective heads in the sand?"

Friday, 2 March 2012

It's over.

It is now eight days since I said goodbye to my lovely wife, first at the church where we were married and then at the crematorium. I am adjusting, in just a short time, to being single again.

But first I must thank all the readers of this blog for the heartfelt sympathies I received from you all, both in the comments section of my last post and private emails.

I must also thank all the members of Freedom2Choose who, through the committee, sent a lovely wreath which my sister took a photograph of, and I will cherish for the rest of my life. And I'd like also to thank those from the Freedom2Choose forum who sent me condolence cards, you lovely lovely people, I love each and every one of you.

Lastly, but not least I would like to thank my dear friend Phil Johnson (aka Handymanphil), the last chairman of F2C, for his unselfish support to me in my time of anguish and mourning whilst he battled his own personal problems. Phil, you are indeed a man that commands respect, mine at least. Thank you Phil.

Once I have gone through officialdom to sort out my finances and looked for work I will again be able to concentrate on that that has been a thorn in my side, the smoking ban here in the UK, indeed, in the rest of the world. But that is in the near future.

Once again, thank you all for your words of condolence and support, you lovely, lovely people.

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