I joined Freedom2Choose in March 2007 because I was disgusted by my then Labour party for it’s wanton vilification of smokers and the hospitality industry we frequented before the odious smoking ban experiment, an experiment in social control, came into being on the 1st of July 2007. By the end of 2008 we had decided to become a membership organisation and had formed various sub groups to reflect the various regions where we could meet up, chat and have a drink or three.
In the North East of England I got the first meeting off the ground at the Tardis pub in Redcar Cleveland. Around ten of us turned up. The Tardis is no more, it fell on the sword of the smoking ban two years ago.
We only had one meeting at the Tardis before Ray and Jill McHale offered us the use of their pub, The Painters Arms, in Drighlington near Leeds.
It took me over an hour and a half to get there by train and bus, where you are, as you know, not allowed by law to smoke on public transport, but it was well worth the journey. We would all bring various foodstuffs for a buffet and Jill would make a cuppa for the drivers amongst us. There was camaraderie and friendship amongst the sterner debate and challenges to the smoking ban. There was laughter too. Jill and Ray were atypical hosts compared to the gastro pub types. They were warm and sincere to their customers. They were the crème de la crème of landlords, a rarity these days.
Now it’s all gone, they have hung up their aprons and walked in the face of financial ruin.
Farewell my friends, I hope your future gets better now that you are no longer at the mercy of heartless governments.
You can pop along to Facebook and say goodbye to Jill and Ray.
Here’s a pic from a video I took. From left to right: Ray McHale, Godfrey Bloom, Nick Hogan and Jill McHale.