I would like to humbly apologise for my absence from these pages for some time, but that would be grossly out of character so I'm not going to do so. Instead, I shall provide a pathetic excuse; a work related sense of humour failure rendered me, for a while, no less full of vitriol but rather lacking in suitable wit with which to express it. Anyway, the situation is behind me now (also in front of me, to the left, right, above and below me) so, since there's evidently no escaping it, I shall get on with things...
This month, the act of smoking in public 'enclosed spaces', like pubs, has been outlawed in England, bringing us in to line with Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Now, I was actually in California a good few years ago when a similar thing happened at midnight on New Year's Eve. Great timing! Anyway, on that occasion I simply left the country for a smoke. Trouble is I happen to Live in the UK.
In preparation for this, and in order to reduce the exhorbitant rates charged by my life insurance company, I have become a lifetime non-smoker. The lifetime I'm referring to is the adult stage of the 'May Beetle', which is, in fact, about a month. Mrs Grumbler has also eschewed her incendiary pleasures for a similar length of time. We avoided killing each other during the 'gnarly phase' by the simple expedient of me flying to San Fransisco for the better part of three weeks, although many people were unable to detect any appreciable change in my own demeanour.
So, now that I am a non-smoker, I can set about those poor unfortunates who still partake with the zeal reserved specifically for those of us who used to, and are trying to convince ourselves not to start again.
To discourage people from smoking, we in the UK already have some quite prominent and no-nonsense health warnings printed on our cigarette packets. The stylish monochrome black or gold packets (or garishly coloured boxes favoured by the lower rent end of the market, not that I'm a snob or anything) are rather starkly invaded by "SMOKING KILLS" messages, and comments like "Protect children, dont make them breath smoke". (As a side note, my local member of parliament never replied to the email I sent to the effect that the latter sugestion should be changed to "Protect children, set fire to a paedophile". What do we pay these people for?)
These warnings, though, arent enough for the people in Westminster. Instead, they are to be replaced with pictures warning of the dire effects of tobacco... Given the wide variety of heath warnings available, Ive had some fun imagining what these might be like...
First, the shock value. "Hey puffer, what do your lungs look like?"
Now, lets appeal to the scientist. "Oi speccy, whats that smell?"
And, finally, the one that probably made me stop in the end. Have you met my little brother, by the way?