“Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette”
That’s part of a great old country and swing song that was performed by among others Tex Ritter and the delightful cosmic cowboys Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen. You should check it out .It’s a little delight. Written down as starkly as it is here , it loses the quirky humour and the jaunty swing of the performed song but I was reminded of it just a few days ago when someone came on the radio blethering on again about the evil weed .Now understand , I don’t smoke any more myself, but within reason I haven’t much objection to others doing so , so long as they don’t blow it in my face when I’m trying to eat.
There’s a campaign on to ban smoking entirely You might think that the battle was won long ago and the act was banned in pubs and restaurants many years ago. It seems like forever now , doesn’t it ? Pubs suddenly smelled of piss , farts and vinegar after centuries of the nasal camouflage offered by Sir Walter Raleigh’s imported weed. Suddenly the air was fresh…..no maybe not fresh, but flavoured with body-odour, Lynx deodorant and possibly Chanel number five as well as the aforementioned odours. Pub owners had to invest in powerful deodorising systems and better ventilation.They also had to invest in beer-gardens, outside -heaters for those cooler nights and every restaurant or pub was forced to look after their paying customers who fancied puffing a fag in the open air.
The strategy worked very well ; everyone got what they wanted .No one would have conceived a generation previously that anyone would actually have the nerve to ban smoking…It was….damn-near unthinkable. There it was though..like every other social law , people looked at it , scratched their heads, shuffled their feet and got on with it. The by-product of it was the beginning of something we in chilly Norneverland had never heretofore experienced before ; something we’d go on holidays to foreign lands to experience and something we thought of as vaguely exotic , redolent of fancy French and Italian movies and style.
Yes it was the birth of “Cafe Culture” in Norneverland. Who’d have thought of it in our dodgy climate ?It was like the mad idea of actually selling bottles of water to anyone in a place like this which was awash with the stuff.Mad! There it was on every street. Cafes began putting little seats and tables outside their doors, neatly tableclothed in red gingham .There were big umbrellas put up to screen off the rain and rare sunshine and even on the coldest days of winter you’d find hearty and hardy punters braving the rain and the winds to feel that little bit more continental while sipping their Cappacinos and Americanos…and of course, possibly …still puffing that cigarette.It was these smokers who actually invented the concept , if you like.
You’d think that would be enough , wouldn’t you? Many were already busily converting to vaping instead of smoking, finding this new gadget vaguely more healthy than their old cigarettes.It was certainly less messy and there were no overstuffed ashtrays to contend with now.Now those same puritan voices who could not foresee how this fashion would eventually shape up and how the changes would affect local society, want anything that issues smoke or vapour banned from everywhere.
“Ban it all!”, they cry out.
The thing is , everything that developed from that first impending and eventual ban was a result of the prohibition. Could this new impending purge on all things smokeable and smoky ,spell the end of tables on the footpath? Will the smokers and vapers disappear into the nicotine -patinated, fuggy bowels of their own homes with their carry-outs clutching their coffee machines and say …”To hell with civilisation.We want no more of it! We’ll just drink and smoke at home .”