Regular readers will be aware of my take on the ban on smoking in airports. That ban is particularly onerous since one has to hang around for a long time before one’s flight departs. Further, one cannot smoke on the aircraft, or in the airport of arrival. Regular readers will know that I have a strategy for dealing with that problem.
As it happens, Manchester airport has smoking areas. Terminal 1 has an area which is on the ground floor. You have to go down stairs or use a lift to get there. In effect, you leave the building and enter a metal cage. Inside the cage, there is a minimal attempt at providing a sort of seating. In Terminal 2, you have to go upstairs into a similar cage. That also is furnished absolutely minimally.
Needless to say, those arrangements are an insult to our worth as paying passengers, but we have no alternative. Better that than nothing. We must accept that airports are so big and so isolated that they are a virtual monopoly in any given area. Why else would so many businesses want to pay a fortune to rent space in them? And why else would your ‘road’ to the departure lounge pass snakelike through the shopping mall? It always amazes me, when passing, snakelike, through the shopping mall, how many people loiter there. Why do they do so? It makes no sense. Are they so ill-prepared that they have not put a swimming costume into their luggage? Or do they not possess a pair of sandals before going on holiday? I can understand people passing the time by looking, but I cannot understand anyone buying. Or is it more a question of big retailers having a presence, and thus projecting a superior image? If so, then it totally fails to impress me.
I have a very good inkling that Manchester Airport only produced smoking areas because of delays in flights. I remember once when we boarded our aircraft and a trolley-dolly made a mistake. She was supposed to ‘cross-check’ that the doors were locked. She made a simple error without thinking. She opened the door! Shit hit fan. The chute deployed. We could all have slid down the chute into the sea, had the aircraft been on the surface of the sea. But we were on the tarmac of the airport. We had a five hour delay while a replacement ‘unit’ was flown up to Manchester from Luton. Needless to say, smokers like me drifted to various empty part of the airport and lit up. I did that more than once. I was prepared for the eventuality of being approached by an apparatchik – “What the fuck do you expect me to do when you have imprisoned me in this God-forsaken emporium? Who the fuck do you think you are? Where are you’re gun toting ‘security officers’?”
But, if matters proceed as normal and as expected, I have full control of my ‘addiction to tobacco’. That is a contradiction. You cannot ‘control’ addiction. The definition of ‘addiction’ requires that the behaviour is uncontrollable. What I mean is that I have become accustomed to not smoking in aircraft, just as I have become accustomed to not smoking when I go to bed, and not waking up every hour, desperate for a smoke. I have control of myself and my desires.
There is a point to the above diatribe.
Last night, we had a family gathering. The occasion was the post-wedding reception of our nephew’s daughter’s wedding. It was jolly good fun. Remembering that the area in which we live is deepest Lancashire, people should not be surprised to learn that the ‘refreshments’ consisted of either Lancashire hot pot or curry. And jolly tasty they were! But my essential point is that I determined not to allow myself to be bothered about the indoor smoking ban. The result was that I quite happily sat with the relatives and drank, laughed and jollied with much fun without the slightest interference from the smoking ban. Why no interference? Because it just did not matter.
Some time ago, I recounted the tale of the 50th wedding anniversary of herself and I. The family arranged a posh meal at a local ‘haute cuisine’ restaurant. I determined beforehand that I would not bother AT ALL about smoking. Not once, during the four hours or so, did I bother to go outside for a smoke. I was disciplined and it did not bother me at all. Last night was similar – I was disciplined in my mind. I sat and drank and ate and laughed and, from time to time, popped outside for a fag, along with others.
In both cases, I made up my mind, just as I made up my mind about smoking in airports and on aircraft. Smoking Bans do not apply to me because I have made up my mind. MADE UP MY MIND.
Which leads me to the title of this post.
The ‘walk of shame’ is when one takes out a fag and walks to the door to go outside. That is ‘the walk of shame’, and we pub-going smokers resent that ‘walk of shame’.
What I am proposing is that we treat that ‘walk of shame’ in the same way that we treat the walk to the toilets when we want a pee. There is a difference since we are forced to undergo the ‘walk of shame’ to go outside for a fag, but we are not forced to go to the bog. But is that true? It is not true. We could pee where we stand if we wish to. Only convention directs us to take the ‘walk of shame’ to the bog.
So what can we change within our own minds?
I went to my local pub tonight. It is Sunday, and, for years, there has been a keriokie night on Sunday. It used to be popular, but has died in the recent past. Even so, there were a dozen or so regulars, and it was always amusing.
The pub bosses decided to terminate the keriokie last weekend. Thus, tonight, the number of people in the pub consisted of 2 couples, a guy called Eddie and me. After a while, one couple left, leaving 1 couple, Eddie and me. A few minutes later, I left.
So what can we change within our own minds?
It is very simple and it is this. All the stuff about the health of bar staff is junk. We can be pro-active in our thinking within the law. We smokers can decide to go outside to have a fag because our tobacco smoke smells and upsets non-smokers. Thus, when I went outside for a fag with so many people inside, the two couples and Eddie, I did so because of the horrible, life-threatening smell that those people might have to suffer. I am a considerate person. If my tobacco smoke upsets others, then I’ll not smoke in their presence. Thus, even if there was only Eddie alone in that huge pub, I would consider his feelings. Even though I am standing 10 metres away from him, and even though he might not give a toss about me smoking, or the smell, I will not smoke in that place.
I DECIDE where I will not smoke. I DECIDE. I DECIDED last night not to let the idea of a smoke into my mind when I was enjoying the pleasure of being intimate with my relatives. By that, I mean briefly talking about my deceased sister and her deceased husband, the parents of the parents of the couple who got married. We had a wonderful time.
So the new idea is a sort of Gandhi revelation. We passively resist. Let the quack academics produce their fraudulent surveys, studies and research. Who cares? We shall carry on smoking because we wish to do so. AND WE SHALL DECIDE TO DO SO FOR OURSELVES. We shall also decide not to do so for ourselves, taking into consideration the nasty punishments which would ensue if we did not conform. But at all times, WE shall decide. We shall decide whether or not to comply. We may or may not. If we decide ‘not’, then we shall accept the need to be Gandhi-like. We shall accept that Public Health controls Cameron and not vice-versa. We shall accept it, but we shall decide for ourselves what is legal and what is not. WE shall decide what the law is, and we shall do so by passive disobedience.
Enough for tonight, but there is much more to be seen. For example, who decided that the vast majority of the people, those with the least ‘assets’, should pay taxes to protect the wealth of the elite?