1. Addressing first your previous post about the role of pubs in society prior to the nanny state moving in on them, yes, they were an integral part of community life where people could go to unwind, make new friends and discuss the current affairs of the day. I remember back in 1970, I lived in a fairly rural part of southern England, and one of the great enjoyments was to discover obscure pubs in the countryside to go to. Of course, that meant driving back from said pub, which I often did having consumed more pints than I could keep count of. But mostly quite capable of driving safely, if a little erratically sometimes. But they didn't have breathalysers then, and on the couple of times I did get stopped because I had a bit of a wobble on, it was "walk along the kerb..". If you did that to their satisfaction, all was ok, and you'd be on your way. One time, they decided I was a bit too pissed, so they made me park the car somewhere safe, took the keys off me, gave me a lift home and told me to pick up the keys the next day from the station. Inconvenient, but not nearly as inconvenient as getting fined a preposterous amount of money, losing your licence for a year and thereafter having to pay inflated insurance premiums.

    I'm glad I was alive then, when nanny hadn't wrapped her asphyxiating wings around anything that smacked of pleasure. We smoked, we drank, we lived and we loved. And most of all, we had fun, with no-one leaning over our shoulders nagging us about what we were allowed, and not allowed, to do. I find it quite breathtakingly unbelievable the pass in which we find ourselves today. Can't even smoke in a pub? What the fuck? What stone did these revolting killjoys crawl out from under? Why didn't someone step on them before they could do any damage? Now they rule our lives (or half-lives, maybe I should say).

    You are correct in that the publicans actively participated in the destruction of their industry through sheer petty self-interest. They were, however, handed a noose with which to hang themselves. Tobacco Control very cleverly fomented the idea that a 'level playing field' was the fairest option, and that no other realistic options existed. So they took the noose, carefully read the intructions as to how it must be used, and proceeded to find a convenient rafter from which to hang themselves. Fools.

    I have fortunately been able to view all this idiocy from afar, having left UK in 2002, and even more fortunately having chosen a country where Political Correctness gets kicked into touch every time it tries to rear its ugly head. So the laws exist, as handed down by the masters on high in Brussels, but they are implemented half-heartedly and rarely prosecuted. Hence, I have never been (and am not likely to be) randomly breathalysed, and nearly every bar and restaurant I go to, I can smoke inside.

    I am, however, still affected when I travel. In a few months, for instance, I have a long-haul flight coming up. With all the attendant fatuity of the smoking bans on planes.


    I remember when at check-in, they asked "smoking or non-smoking?"

    How civilised.

    Those were the days when flying was actually a pleasure, with none of the pointless theatre of 'security'. You could turn up half an hour before the flight and have plenty of time in hand.

    Ah, I seem to have wandered well off topic (nothing to do with the bottle of red, I can assure you), so I'll go now.

    Oh how I despise the grey, joyless bastards who are trying to make us all into Winston Smith's peers.

    • Your description of the south of England back then could have been south Cork when I was younger. Beers and smokes for the evning by the sea followed by a leisurely drive home, often stopping if you had female company. The Gardai, if you did meet them, were blokes just like you and as long as you weren’t an absolute tit and almost blind with drink, you were told to go straight home and be careful. 

      On the transatlantic runs I too have happy memories of the back three smoking rows on the Jumbo and they had the added advantage of being beside the beer fridge. One night on the way to New Orleans I was joined by a black Southern air hostess who sang the blues gently in the seat beside me. It was pure nectar.

      Maybe a decent war will bring those days back because other than that, I suspect a grey world of petty rules ahead and I too hate the bastards for it.

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