Wow! This is the 200th Droop since 1997. I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly and I can’t believe what I’ve just done….
I’ve given up smoking.
I should quickly add here that I have NOT given up campaigning for the rights of smokers. I will never do that until it becomes illegal to do so.
Also, quicker still, I’d like to add that giving up smoking is a shit idea. I don’t feel any better. My senses of smell and taste have not improved (although I admit I may smell and taste better to others now) and about the only thing that’s improved is my bank balance. Oh yes, and to be fair, the morning cough has gone. But the overriding fact is that the craving has not gone. I feel like part of my character has been amputated. I miss my Partagas and Cohiba. My Cognac misses them more than I do.
So now I’m an official non-smoker AND supporter of equal rights for smokers. Smokers personify persecution. How else can you describe it? They’re made to go outside, stand far away and use their own ashtray. Lepers had a better deal. When you have, say, six pubs in one area, why, oh why, can’t just ONE of them be for smokers? It’s just astounding how much you can abuse a group of people without them rising up in retaliation.
In retrospect I’m not sure it was a good decision to quit. In fact it counts as one of the most painful experiences of my life (well at least equal to when Jacqueline Quince said she wouldn’t be my girlfriend when I was seven years old).
I didn’t tell anyone for the first few weeks – mainly because I wanted to make absolutely sure I wouldn’t fail. It’s been over two months (and five kgs weight gain) now, so I reckon I can speak with some authority. (At least I can speak without coughing my lungs up anyway).
People who are highly vocal about the unpleasantness of smoking tend to be uninteresting. I have many friends who have never smoked and they always mixed with smokers – laughing and joking and just being a joy to be with. The militant ones are different altogether.
My old adversary (who’s name I forget but I think is Saloojee or something like that) was boring right from the first time I met him – it was in a TV ‘green room’ waiting to go on to the set and discuss advertising bans. Oh my God he was SO boring… smoking is bad, alcohol is bad, caffeine is bad, fast food is bad… at which stage I stopped listening.
My point is that those who cannot TOLERATE people who smoke, drink alcohol and caffeine (I’ll stick with those three for the moment) are so deadly, absofuckinglutely dull. Dull. Dull. Dull.
If I was stuck on a desert island with one of them I would gladly wade into the sea and attempt a conversation with a Great White Shark or a highly-toxic Box Jellyfish (whichever swam past first).
Smoking was, in my experience anyway, a very elegant and sophisticated affair. It was Great Gatsby. It involved ladies with ridiculously long cigarette holders and long sparkly frocks ordering Pimms. It was James Bond lighting a cigar. It was Michael Caine smoking Gauloises in ‘The Ipcress File’. It was Humphrey Bogart, Micky Spillane and Dean Martin. It was Charlize Theron refusing to appear at an event in Johannesburg (after winning her Oscar) unless they made the entire restaurant a ‘smoking area’ (which they did – the hypocritical bastards).
Those days are gone. It’s sad and I mourn them but we now know that smoking kills you, so I’d prefer to delay that for a while – you can’t smoke anywhere these days anyway.
But that isn’t enough for the Salojees of this world. They won’t be happy until we’re all non-smoking, non-drinking, non-caffeine-consuming, non-fast-food-eating drones like himself.
And the alcohol bannings? Well they’re winning those too. Do you honestly think we’ll stop them from banning booze ads on TV? And when they’ve done that they’ll start (as they did with tobacco) slowly but surely closing down all the places where you can drink. They’ll do it (and succeed) because they’re fanatical.
Then they’ll ban junk food and caffeine of course.
So South Africans must make a decision. Either you’re on the Salojee side and are against smoking, alcohol, coffee and fast food or you’re over on this side with the people who are telling jokes and laughing. It’s your choice.
By the way, the first person to use the F-word on TV was Kenneth Tynan during a BBC live debate. He said it in order to point out how silly it was that he couldn’t say it (all recordings were destroyed and none exist today). He was smoking at the time. You can’t smoke on television now, but you can say fuck as often as you like. There’s some irony in there somewhere.
Perhaps you can fool the people all of the time
One of the things that’s puzzled me for a long time is how many people died so that everyone could have a vote – and how an alarming number of people just casually couldn’t be bothered to either (a) use their vote or (b) understand what their vote means.
It’s amazing isn’t it?
I grew up in a working class railway town where my Grandfather was a shop steward in the union and most of my family worked for British Rail.
I used to enjoy talking to him about labour disputes and politics but the one thing that really puzzled me was his thoughts on the General Election vote (and he was a smart man). When I asked what party he thought was “best” his answer was “it’s not about which is the best, it’s about which one represents us”. He was referring to the class system in Britain (which was denied vehemently at the time but which still, of course, exists) and he added “this family always votes Labour”.
That was that. No discussion. Not even the slightest consideration for the Conservatives. It was “us” and “them”.
Of course, this changed as society moved forwards.
In South Africa, it’s incredible to watch the same scenario playing itself out again.
Nobody was surprised when the ANC won the first election. It had to, quite rightly, happen. But then my Grandad’s curious “us and them” theory came into play.
In Britain, the majority of the population knew, deep down, that their leaders were failing them and it reached a peak with Harold Wilson and his motley crew. How close was Britain to bankruptcy because they tried to run businesses though nationalisation? It was a close thing. He devalued the pound so many times that I lost count. At that time he restricted all holidaymakers to a foreign allowance limit of 50 quid a year (R100 in those days). You couldn’t get across the Channel for that.
And yet, just like my Grandfather, the majority continued to blindly vote for the “us” party – Labour – until reality kicked in and then Britain eventually found a clever new leader in Margaret Thatcher and the political scene changed forever.
It’s now overdue to happen here.
Eventually the ‘mindless’ majority are going to start asking themselves “hey, what’s in it for me? How come he lives in a palace and I’m still in a shack? Why am I even listening to that man who’s more interested in letting his mates out of prison and having children at a speed most rabbits would be proud of, than he is in getting me some water or electricity?”
Personally, I think the way forward is to pray that Zuma remains leader of the ANC and leads it into the next general election.
I think it will be a very, very close race.
This is an extract from a Czech Republic Main Daily Newspaper editorial. Someone over there has it figured out.
“The danger to South Africa is not Jacob Zuma but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency…. The Republic can survive a Jacob Zuma, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President.”
Amen to that.
LASTLY, here are some REAL newspaper headlines:
“Worker suffers leg pain after crane drops 800 pound ball on his head”
“City unsure why the sewer smells”
“Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new attorney”
“Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25”
“Barbershop singers bring joy to school for deaf”
“Hospitals resort to hiring doctors”
“Parents keep kids home to protest school closure”
“Rally against apathy draws small crowd”
“Total lunar eclipse will be broadcast live on Northwoods Public Radio”
“Miracle cure kills fifth patient”
The Sun’s out and Summer’s coming!
This is the 200th Brewer’s Droop, which Chris Brewer has been writing since 1997. It is republished with his kind permission.