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You Live, You Die: In Between You May As Well Have A Ciggy.
As the government bombards us at an ever accelerating rate with propaganda about health, lifestyle, diet, exercise, drink and just about everything else, people just become more immune to all the scare stories. It has reached a level now where dire warnings of ill health resulting from smoking, drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs, consuming too much fat, salt or sugar, having uprotected sex and doing anything that makes being human worthwhile are effectively counter productive.


You Live; You Die. And In Between You May As Well Have A Ciggy.
by Ian R Thorpe

The comment used in the title was made by a drinker in a West Gorton Working Men's Club on hearing that parliament had voted for a total ban on smoking in public places. West Gorton in Manchester is right in the heart of Shameless country. One wonders if the gentle and heartwarming tales of Frank Gallagher, his dysfunctional family and their bizarre friends will do for tourism in east Manchester what Heartbeat did for The Vale of Pickering or The Darling Buds of May did for rural Kent?

Tourism is not what drew the boggart's attention to Gorton though, it just happens to illustrate the meanness of the latest assault on the liberty and lifestyle of the traditional labour voter by Blair's Brave New World Ltd.

To ban smoking in private member's clubs while having downgraded the criminality of Mariahuana and relaxed licencing laws is either hypocrisy, double standards or sheer ineptitude (send you vote on a fiver to Boggart Blog.) But will it make any difference to the near - feral lives of the underemployed underclass?

Before all the illiberal liberals start lecturing me on the evils of smoking let's consider what we are really talking about. Anyone wishing to avoid smoking in pubs and clubs is not really hard pressed to do so (unless they live somewhere like Gorton.) It comes down to the democracy of common sense versus the tyranny of rules and regulations. From where I live a journey of one mile north east will take me to Simonstone, a pleasant village in the Ribble Valley area. A similar journey due west will take me into the centre of Accrington (and the phonetics of the name tell you all you need to know) In the Ribble Valley I can eat excellent pub food, have a glass of decent wine and never see a cigarette. In the centre of Accrington wine is something sick dogs and southerners do, ask for food and you will be offered crisps, pork scratchings or in a very sophisticated establishment, a dodgy meat pie perhaps. But everybody will be puffing away on illicit duty-frees.

Is it all about choice, or do the new labour pokenoses want to banish everything they disapprove of from the working person's local just in case a merchant banker might ever want to pop in for a Chardonnay spritzer?

In days of yore working class people took refuge from the bleakness of their existence in the sense of community that came from knowing they were all in the shit together. Now of course there is no such thing as society and we are all isolated and competing economic units, standing and falling on the strength of our balance sheets. Is it fair to prevent those who are not competing successfully from choosing their way of hastening departure to that unexplored land from in whose bourne no traveller returns?

The best thing about the new law of course is that while it serves public transport users and people who must spend time in public buildings very well, when it comes to pubs and clubs it is totally unpolicable.

In Gorton the overworked police will have to turn a blind eye to blatant flouting of the rules, knowing that the likely offenders will have no money to pay fines (they spend it all on beer and ciggies) and the prisons are overflowing. So nothing much will change, and in West Gorton the regulars will carry on puffing away, smugly aware that to a man they are conversant with one of the great necessities in life. THEY KNOW HOW TO THROW A PARTY.

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