01 June 2009

Daily Chat 01/06/09

On this day in 987, Hugh Capet became King of France.  In 1495, the first written record of whisky appeared in the Exchequer Rolls of the Scottish court.  Friar John Cor received "eight bolls of malt...wherewith to make aquavitae".  In 1925, Lou Gehrig played the first of what would become a record 2,130 consecutive games of Major League baseball that would be unbroken until 1995.  And the UK ban on smoking in public places is two years old today.  Celebrating birthdays:  Morgan Freeman, Jonathan Pryce, Ron Wood, Jason Donovan, Heidi Klum and Michael Rasmussen.  It's Madaraka Day in Kenya.


  1. Happy Madaraka Day to all our Kenyan contributors!

  2. The smoking ban cut the deepest...

  3. AS a former smoker I can understand that jay. But as I'm asthmatic it make socialising in public a whole lot more possible for me. Being able to breathe does make such a difference.

  4. I wasnt really against the ban, i could see its merits, i just think its a shame that so many pubs are closing now and sitting in a pub with a beer and a fag really was one of life's finer pleasures. And restaurants for that matter, the inbetween courses cig was heaven.

  5. sitting in a pub with a beer and a fagIf I weren't currently sleep-deprived (thanks to the idiot across the parking lot who decided yesterday that windchimes would be nice addition to her front porch), I could make some sort of double entendre joke about this.

  6. Jay I think all those cheap deals for alcohol in the supermarkets are at least as responsible for the dimunition of the pub trade.

    People are drinking at home - where they can smoke I suppose. But I know plenty of people who don't allow that any more especially if there are kids around.

    Increasingly we are retreating more and more into our homes. Now we are even eating out less.

    Its the ultimate divide and rule tactic but it was well in progress before the ban I think.

    We go to cinemas less too - but thats TV not the smoking ban - smoking has been banned in cinemas for ages anyway, as it has been on buses.

    Society is being atomised.

  7. I see there's a wee bit of controversy building about D-Day out there in Graun land, on the back of Antony Beevor's latest military door-stopper.

    Not sure why people are acting so surprised at the high number of French civilian casualties - it's not like, say, the aerial bombardment of Caen has been airbrushed out of history or anything. Air power in WW2 was a blunt instrument, to put it mildly - indeed, if you got too close to the intended target, there was a chance you'd cop one from your own (or the American) air force. It's not uncommon for old soldiers of a certain age to refer to "the American Luftwaffe".

    The understandably ambivalent attitude of the Normans, and the wider French populace, to their liberators has always been well attested, at least as far as I was aware.

  8. "Society is being atomised."
    Pubs are closing, and the smoking ban definitely played a big part in this.

    The plight of cinemas is interesting. The industry nearly died in the UK during the eighties, and saw a revival after multiplexes became the norm. But I don't bother with Cinemas because the noise levels are too distracting. People chatting, mobiles going off, people making industrial shoveling and grunting sounds while 'eating' ship-containers of crisps and popcorn next to me...

    People are more selfish, or less self-aware.

    And there aren't any ushers with big torches to tell them to STFU...

    Apart from that they're a rip off and just don't show many interesting films because the distributors don't like risk...

    Damn depressing really. Going to the movies used to be a real event...

  9. Cinemas are archaic, redundant remnants of another age, (the 30s?) and the whole concept of Hollywood blockbuster movies is dying on its feet. Movies are now cheaper to make than ever and the internet is the perfect medium for the short, esoteric film.
    I had the same experience Bitterweed describes when I last went to a cinema (that big ugly one on the front at Brighton)- probably 10 years ago. People are definitely more selfish and less self-aware.
    And a good TV series is far better that most movies- I'm thinking of "Sopranos", "6 Feet Under", "The Wire" and "Mad Men".
    Now I buy dvds anyway. Cinemas- who goes to them anymore?

    And I could never afford pubs except when I was a student with a maximum grant...

  10. Dan
    That's the other thing... TV is now more cutting edge than movies...

    (BTW Anyone know why sherbertfandango seems to think I'm Peter Beech ??? That's just fucking bizarre...)

  11. Cheap supermarket booze as well, yes, but the ban has certainly contributed heavily.

    IS the eating out and cinema thing not related to the recession?

    I still love the cinema but other people are too loud and they really need stern staff who kick people out if they dont shut up, teenagers are just the worst for this - the sort not old enough to go out getting smashed but old enough to go for a group trip to the cinema. Another thing is the cost - ticket price plus drink is about a tenner now, often more, if you get a bit of food its often getting on £15. Thats just a crazy price to watch a film.

    D-Day - if the French hadnt rolled over for a bit of slap and tickle after a mighty fortnight of fighting then we wouldnt have needed to blow the crap out of their towns. Ungrateful litte...

  12. @DanP:

    My daughter loves going to the pictures. And surprise surprise it's usually me who takes her (usually with a couple of her little friends), while MrsSB has something very urgent and important to attend to.

    Hannah Montana was the latest cinematic tour-de-force I've been subjected to (with associated dressing up - there must have been 200 pre-teen cheerleaders singing along, quite a lot of mums and a couple of feeling-slightly-out-of-place dads).

    I didn't dress up (I save that for war films, obviously) but I've got to say I actually quite enjoyed Miley, Billy Ray et al's latest oeuvre. Well, I didn't actively dislike it, at any rate.

  13. ...unless it's one of the mods trying to be clever and cause a little ruckus... they wouldn't do that would they ? ;-)

  14. # And the UK ban on smoking in public places is two years old today. #

    No wonder I got up on the wrong side of bed this morning. I knew there was something hateful about today.

    Also still depressed over Lions' despicable performance.

  15. @thauma:

    I take it you're not of the big, bald, pissed and sweary persuasion, then? I only ask because it seems there's a loophole in the law which a) allows people with those characteristics to smoke with impunity anywhere where there are No Smoking signs (buses, railway stations etc) and b) to strike down with sudden and mysterious blindness those uniformed "officials" who would, I imagine, otherwise be able to tell said offender to "stop smoking".

  16. Swifty - I might be pissed and sweary but unluckily not big or bald. Maybe I could work on that.

  17. Smoking and non-smoking rooms..simples.

    In fairness to the Lions, they played badly and won. The spring boks will still tear us a new un tho.


  18. "I didn't dress up (I save that for war films, obviously) but I've got to say I actually quite enjoyed Miley"

    You should have seen my at the screening of Zulu - i went in full redcoat with replica rifle, i also paid a Somalian refugee £3 to accompany me with a short spear fashioned from local shrubbery.

    I cant comment on Miley, my only thoughts towards her are too obscene and indecent to broadcast.

  19. Thauma - yeah, how rubbish were the Lions! Jesus. The number 8 was white, the little centre was shite, hooker was shite, 2nd rows were lazy, Worsley invisible, what a bloody shambles. Would like to see Croft and Powell/Heaslip with Williams, think that would be a brilliant back row, better balance. And Saffa back rows are always phenomenal.

  20. Of course, one of the most important reasons I don't go to the cinema over here is that they tend to be dubbed into Italian which I don't, despite my best endeavours, understand.
    The local expats have organised a British film evening but frankly I'd rather go to the dentist. You can imagine the sort of movie-"Love Actually", anyone?
    Here I must admit to being a bit of a snob...

    When i smoked I was dead against the smoking ban but now I've given up smoking everything I'm rather pro. But I'd certainly be in favour of a smoking room in pubs, clubs etc. I think the passive smoking hysteria has gone a bit too far. What you see over here is mum and dad off for a spin and smoking away with their kids in the car. I think that's horrible.

  21. You know, I've been a fairly hard-core non-smoker all my life, but even I have a hard time understanding the no smoking in pubs thing.

  22. Montana its health and safety! Some studies suggest that people who work in smokey atmospheres can suffer respiratory problems as a result (passive smoking).

    It is also to do with creating a climate where more people will be inclined to give up smoking. (which is a good idea).

    The trouble is, in my experience anyway, giving up smoking needs to be done when you are not suffering from stress and who gets a chance at that these days?

  23. The argument was - from the EU - that it was to protect workers' health from secondary inhalation related disease in workplaces. It was a ban on smoking in all public places, and had strong trades union support.

    I have never been sure whether we could have had any other options than a total ban. The UK applies EU legislation notoriously heavy handedly.

    Germany but planned to allow exemptions for small bars and premises with separate smoking rooms, although i believe all sixteen state parliaments had a bun fight over this.

    The general vibe is that the smoking ban, support for the large pubcos in their rape of British pubs and landlors, and the ridiculous public perfomance legislation have conspired to make pubs fewer and further between, with less culture and more like Starbucks with shit beer instead of coffee.

    So much for "vibrant communities".

  24. Here's a resonable account from an EU/US perspective, focusing on Austria. (From the WSJ)

    "Although countries including France, Britain and Italy have introduced bans on smoking in public, Europeans are having a hard time stamping out their nicotine habit. In some cases, that has forced governments to soften antismoking legislation.

    In Italy, nearly as many people smoke as did before Rome passed a law in 2005 prohibiting smoking in cafés, according to the Health Ministry.

    In July, a federal court in Germany, after a slew of lawsuits from restaurateurs, ruled that one-room pubs don't have to offer separate rooms for smokers and nonsmokers.

    Spain banned smoking in public places in 2006, but the law contains loopholes and is loosely enforced. In practice, people can smoke in most bars, and most restaurants allow smoking for fear of a backlash from consumers.

    Lighting up doesn't carry the social stigma in Europe that it carries in the U.S. Many famous Europeans -- including the Pope, French soccer star Zinedine Zidane and Britain's Prince Harry -- have been known to puff in private without burning their public image. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, on the other hand, has spoken publicly about the pressure he feels to quit smoking.

    The number of U.S. adults who smoke dropped below 20% in 2007 for the first time on record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a November report. Smoking and secondhand smoke kill 443,000 people in the U.S. annually through cancer, heart disease and other causes, the CDC said.

    In the U.S., says Tigrane Hadengue, co-founder of the Museum of Smoking in Paris, "a smoker is a source of evil who imposes evil on others. In Europe, it's seen as part of an art de vivre...the same as eating and drinking."

    But smoking has become a heavy burden for Europe's state-run social-welfare systems, with smoking-related diseases costing well over $100 billion a year.

    One out of two teens and adults smokes in Austria, one of the highest smoking rates in Europe. In 2007, 14,000 people died from smoking-related diseases out of an overall population of 8.2 million.

    Smoking is common among women and teenagers as well as men. Austrian girls light up, on average, before their 12th birthdays, the youngest age in Europe, according to the World Health Organization.

    The Austrian love for cigarettes dates from the 19th century, when artists and writers gathered in locales such as Vienna's Café Griensteidl to read the paper, write, socialize and smoke, says Kurt-Jürgen Heering, editor of the anthology "The Vienna Coffeehouse."

    In 2005, Austria passed a law calling for voluntary bans on smoking in hospitals, train stations and other public places. In 2007, when the Austrian government came under pressure from the European Union to toughen its smoking legislation, then-Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky took up the issue of smoking in public places.

    Many attribute the laxity of the new antismoking law to Ms. Kdolsky, a proponent of free choice when it comes to cigarettes. The 46-year-old former anesthesiologist and hospital director had been a smoker since the age of 16 until she recently ditched the habit.

    "Smokers are old enough to decide on their own," she said in an interview last year.

    Opinion polls showed that most Austrians were against a full-blown smoking ban, says Ms. Kdolsky. She dismisses claims about the dangers of secondhand smoke. "No international study tells you that sitting in a restaurant for two hours as a passive smoker brings you harm," she says.

    Under the law she sponsored, small bars and restaurants can choose if they want to be nonsmoking. Larger establishments have to dedicate at least 50% of their space to a separate nonsmoking room.

  25. After about 20 years of searching, I've fallen right on my feet. We've 2 cracking pubs and a rugby club within a ten minute totter of our front door.

    Proper pubs, privately-owned, with a wide cross section of clientele - from the ruff n rowdy builders, the young jack-the-lads "bombing up" on their way into town for a big night out, through the local solicitor and professionals, the commuters to Town, the chavs and the council denizens, the bloody lot.

    Brilliant boozers, both of them. Busy but not packed out, "no kids" saloon bars, kids welcome elsewhere on the premises, beer gardens, etc. A warm welcome in both, a strong sense of "community" in both.


  26. Looks like we got boned then. In a crowdy and usually wet country, we make a big deal about criminalising this behaviour, and damaging our heritage and culture. How New Labour. And how sodding typical.

  27. Jay - I don't think the forwards were even on the pitch for half the match.

    BW - "The UK applies EU legislation notoriously heavy handedly." - unless you count the human rights bits.....

  28. thaumaturge

    Lucky you. We've got a decent back street boozer about 25 minutes walk. 8 guest alles, good fun regulars, music on Sats.

    Nearer than that we have two thirds empty beer barns. Good for poorly kept overpriced beer, and spotting trends in football away strips.
    Big tellies with Sky news (Sound down) or Britains Got Typhoid, etc... grim, or house compilations on crap but loud hi fi. Not brilliant...

  29. This premod bollox really is a low blow, not content with a bloody month full ban they have to impose the incredibly silly premod for an unspecificed amount of time. There's not even any point posting in premod, takes 4 hours for the comment to appear and then it appears right back where you initially posted it - usually about 4 pages of comments back so no one even sees it to respond to, complete waste of time. They might as well replace premod with short term bans, like a day or a few days. Premod is the biggest pile of shite in the world.

  30. Better off out of it, Jay- Cif don't have the courage of their convictions.

  31. I'll do one or two tiny posts a day and see how long they want to keep this idiocy up for. So tiresome...

  32. Jay
    I thought once you're back in then you're in the clear ??
    This policy is really f@ck wtted of them I have to agree.

  33. You're in indeterminate premod? Bollocks.
    What did the Great CiF war actually achieve? I don't see the new modding as being much different. The one change was that they engaged a little more BTL, but even that seems to be stopping now. Methinks we were suckered.

  34. ****** (you know who) is the way to go, Jay - accepted by the establishment, praised by Matt. It's what you've always wanted deep down. Ignatius might not approve, but it's a topsy-turvy world we live in. And the wheel keeps turning. :o)

  35. Sorry I'm getting a bit miffed. So youre right to smoke is more important than my right to breathe?

    I'm not saying the way the govt has done is right because it isn't

    But for the increasing numbers of asthmatics going to a restaurant or the pub is not just easier its actually possible now.

    There should be a compromise though,smoking rooms should be possible with extractor fans, but what if half your party smokes and the other half does or (unlikely these days) there is one non smoker in the party. Are they outvoted and have to put up with it (or in my case go home).

    Sorry but this after years of having to leave the pub/restaurant for a breath of fresh air (and being made to feel lke a party pooper when I did - I was just guilt tripping and interfering with their right to smoke).

    I know its hard to stop, in the end I had to or it would have stopped me. Had an aunt who died of emphysema - it wasn't nice. Don't like to think of it happening to you guys.
    You of course have an inalienable right to ruin your own health but not the people around you.

  36. "What did the Great CiF war actually achieve?"

    Not an awful lot it seems. Maybe a decision on their part that outright bans arent worth the effort, hence they now seem to be saying banned posters can come back if they stay in an unspecified spell of premod. Not much, but a slight improvement on total bans i spose. That seems about it, the idea of talk policy consistency went out the window the day the policy was released, and was confirmed by the recent atheist piece.

    Scherf - horrible, horrible thought. Ignatius wouldnt just not approve he would stalk me to the grave for bringing such shame on him via his sycophantic little cousin.

    I am peppering the boards with 3 word banalities now.

  37. annetan42
    I don't think that, I agree that for many it's an unpleasant experience, and exposed over long periods there would bad health effects. And as you say, for many asthmatics it made them uninhabitable. Clean air in any pub is fine; I have no objection to that. But as per Germany, there is nothing to stop having separate smoking rooms, rather than out in the rain by the gutter. Banning smoking outright has had a deeply, predictable harmful effect on our pubs, and it wasn't necessary for the government to be so draconian. It was just another issue that made them look - correctly - out of touch.

  38. anne, it's not a 'right to smoke'. Neither is a 'right' to go to a pub. It's a matter of choice and freedom to make decisions that do not impact harmfully on others.
    Workplaces - a total ban is reasonable and logical. Pubs - it should be a matter of choice. (btw, years ago when I lived in England, there were some non-smoking pubs and non-smoking areas in some pubs, and this seemed to work OK.) Here in Denmark, the law allows smaller establishments to permit smoking. If I go out, I choose where I want to go depending on circumstances - sometimes it's a smoking place (much rarer), sometimes it's a non-smoking place.

    I like the fact that both are available. I may exclusively use either one or the other, but as a citizen I should have the choice.

  39. I know Jay, but if they'd REALLY wanted to torture you they would have put up a Bindel/Biddy classic....

  40. I've emailed CiF today asking them to delete my account. I wrote to Georgina Henry and the reader's editor two weeks ago complaining about the amount of anti-male sexism they publish. Haven't had a reply from either of them, and they haven't let up. Charlie Brooker's piece today was the final straw. I am no longer prepared to patronise a newspaper that hates me. So fuck 'em.

  41. Bitterweed and scherfig thanks for the response to my cris de coeur!

    I agree about having smoking rooms. I did say at the start of my post that I disagreed with the way the govt went about it.

    Also it is possible to reduce the exposure of staff to the smoke by having efficient extractor systems.

    It was a typical simplistic heavy handed Nulab response.

    The legislation needs ammending, hardly anyone I know smokes so, so long as I have a smoke free room to socialise in that would be fine.

    Sorry if that sounded like a rant but having been exiled from pubs for several years before the ban after suffering a bad asthma attack the relief of being able to breathe in a boozer cannot be underestimated.

  42. "I know Jay, but if they'd REALLY wanted to torture you they would have put up a Bindel/Biddy classic...."

    I wouldnt put it past them, who knows what gibberish they'll publish before they let me out the gulag. If its the BiBuBiBu debut, i really will cry, i'll sob unashamedly and bang my fists at their wickedness.

  43. annetan42
    There absolutely is a compromise. And as we both seem to agree: the legislation was never originally about telling people what's good for them, closing pubs or forcing people in a social activity onto th streets; the driver was taking care employees' health, which it would be stupid not to sympathise with, and could be achieved.

    Typical nulab nonsense as you say...

  44. Jesus, have you had any comms from these retards Jay ?

  45. They sent me one on sunday just saying i had been reinstated and i was in premod, i have since sent 3 or 4 emails complaining etc and, unsurprisingly, they have all been ignored.

  46. Patience of a saint mate, premod is effectively a silencing, as you say.

  47. "JayReilly, I just googled Battle of Portslade Accessories and got nothing relevent on the first 4 pages, do you have a link please"


  48. "JayReilly,
    You say "anyone familiar with the story of the Peruvian mountain rat would be familiar with the fallacy that underpins this piece."

    "I just googled "Peruvian mountain rat" and got no result. So if the Peruvan mountsin rat story is not on google it cannot be said to be famous."

  49. I sympathise with your condition Annetan but you could always have gone to pubs and stood outside.

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. LOL Monkeyfish :)

    Jamaica? Nah, decided not to bother


  52. monkeyfish said...

    #..you could always have gone to pubs and stood outside.#

    stood outside?

    Here's a better one Annetan, nip to Tesco, get yourself some cut priced Superlager and a packet of fags and then stand outside the pub. Gives you the benefits of the cheap booze and you still get to experience the unique experience of standing,...er...outside the pub.

    Another tip...you can save loads of money by staying outside all sorts of historic buildings, tourist attractions, restaurants and theatres...saves queueing as well. I know one real skinflint who saved a fortune on a trip to Alton towers by not only staying outside but not actually going in the first place.

    Next year, me and Mrs Fish are celebrating our anniversary with a trip to Jamaica. We've decided to take the budget option by staying outside the actual island and to further economise we've decided not to hang around outside the airport. We'll have the best of both worlds by not actually leaving the house. An exotic, once in a lifetime trip and all the comforts and conveniences of home and...here's the best bit...it won't cost us anything.

    Might even nip over to France this weekend.

  53. MF, you could save even more money if you didn't not nip over to New York for shopping this weekend. Next weekend - don't nip over to Barcelona. Then not two weeks in Mexico over the summer, and not a skiing holiday in Gstaad in January. You'll be fuckin' rich in no time, mate. Lend me five pounds, and I'll buy you a drink.

  54. Smoking is a choice. Asthma isn't.

  55. scherfig

    Not only does it save you a fortune but it does wonders for your self-confidence. People always told me I didn't have the 'right stuff' until last week when I became the first scouse piss-head in space following my now legendary tour of the Andromeda Galaxy.

    I felt 10 feet tall as I lapped up the plaudits during my tickertape reception (in the kitchen). A whirlwind tour of the living room actually took in 3 continents during which I didn't bother shaking hands with Obama, being blessed by the pope and Dalai Lama and not being arsed to collect my Légion d'honneur from that poison little git Sarkosy. Sent my regards to his missus though.

  56. Alain de Botton's "The Art of Travel" deals with similar holiday experiences you describe, monkeyfish. Great book, as are all his books.

  57. Alain de Botton

    "The consolations of being a smug twat"