Friday, 8 January 2010

Excitement from a puddle

The more I hear from Mr Hockney, the more wonderful he seems. This from the Today programme:
I’m living now. I want it exciting. Mind you, I can get excitement from a puddle.
(H/t: Joe Moran).

He edited an edition of Today over the holiday period and sent fellow smoker, the rather wonderful Caroline Wyatt on probably one of the best journalistic assignments of the winter: to investigate how smoking bans were being managed in Paris, Brussels and Berlin.

This involved what sounded like a convivial round of visits to bars and restaurants in each of these cities. I know Caroline a little and know she wouldn't be so rude as to refuse any hospitality proffered. The conclusion? One way or another the bans in each country have been adapted, either formally or informally, to accommodate the interests of smokers.

As an ex-smoker and continuing drinker with small children, whom I regularly take into pubs where they can irritate other adults, I'm naturally all in favour of a ban. But I do think we could be a little more accommodating to smokers. Particularly as after a bottle or two I often fancy a fag.


malty said...

The Germans, world class pragmatists that they are, are forming 'smoking clubs' and holding their meetings in...restaurants and brauhaus, all perfectly legal, apparently. Your average Brit however carries on freezing his butt off whilst drawing on his..butt.

worm said...

Malty points out a particularly misguided piece of British self-delusion, namely that we as a people are strongly independent and have a flagrant disregard for rules and regulations, and that our teutonic neighbours are a bunch of unthinking robots who do as the monolithic state tells them. Turns out that its the other way round, but I guess the truth hurts

Brit said...

Yes and no, Worm. What the British do is to operate around the frayed and messy edges of the law. The Germans stick rigidly to the letter.

Put it another way: the Kraut accepts the law and goes to the effort of forming a separate club, strictly within the rules. The Brit shrugs and sticks his head out the front door to smoke his fag, feet still just inside the pub.

Sean said...

Never Smoked, never even tried, never even wanted to try, even if what good for me I still would not do it, it looks stupid to me, but then again 5k on a treadmill is a bit odd if you think about it.

I love Hockney, he is Numero Uno in our house, I really like his pics on the Scarborough road. When I was a Kid every august, the club trip to Scarborough was past a lot of the locations of his pictures.(the new road now takes you straight there missing all the best bits)
The pictures look exactly as I remember them, from a childs eyes. Brilliant.

He has an interesting attitude to banning things, If you go to Salts Mill in Bradford and try and take a photo, one of his relatives will deal with you in a very forthright manner, still worth the trip.

worm said...

brit: In my experience this is not the case, I count plenty of german bar and nightclub owners amongst my friends, and they all saw the smoking ban be introduced (with the same wording as ours) then straight away denounced it as unworkable and simply allowed people to continue smoking in their establishments. The police simply let them get on with it and do not attempt to bring charges. In my experience this is almost the complete opposite of the UK, where very few people tried to get round it, and upholding the ban is treated very seriously and can lead to prosecutions and even jail terms

Sean said...

On the face of it Worm the Germans seem to have got it right, but in the long run it leads to corruption as the authorities know they have the law in their pocket and can sell it. Russia is a very good example of that, she has all the "right" laws and the populace spend half their cash buying them off.

As ive said many times to be very boring, our tradition of common law is incompatible with the European civil code, which is a top down "directive" system. One has to give and it seems unfortunately to be our common law tradition and the culture it creates.

malty said...

The heinie's and their oily rags, part two.

Harvey's restaurant (yes, of rabbit fame, there he is sitting in the corner by the bar) just off Koln's Ebelplatz has its smokers snug in the front, large, well appointed, friendly. Non smoking in the back, dark, cold, dingy.
Regardless of the nicotine shrouded atmosphere we always choose the front.

Harvey smokes Gitane's.

worm said...

germany is very corrupt Sean - in the example we are talking about (bars and cafes) the police are totally beholden to the massively powerful breweries who can basically do as they choose. However, I for one don't really mind the thought of living under an all-powerful booze and fags dictatorship

Gaw said...

If I recall they had a local ballot in Berlin and the option that won out (or was selected if I've remembered wrongly) was that small bars that didn't do food could remain smoking if they chose. Seems fair enough.

The saddest thing about the blanket ban is that it's killing off the old-fashioned boozers (usually the ones with a more working class customer) that were under threat anyway.

I agree with Worm. Of course over here we live under an all-powerful supermarket dictatorship that in turn has a stranglehold on the booze and fag market. As well as almost everything else.

My guess is that supermarkets have been responsible for more urban change than any other institution, state or private.

Sean said...

Its very easy Garth to support local shops and thats to given a 100% business rate discount to shops under 500 sq mts.

The reason this has not been done is simple, the central and local govt. have been bought off, and in my book thats corruption.

Its not paper bags under the carpet, its much worse. Its a subversion of the democratic system.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Yes, the German idea does seem a good one, but then if we Brits did that what would we have to moan about?

Gaw said...

Sean: Tax out of town car parking spaces? The Tories are making encouraging sounds about facing down the supermarkets but you've got to be sceptical.

Gadjo: You really are out of touch with Britain! I think they'll be plenty left.

Hey Skipper said...

As one with libertarian leanings, despite being a non-smoker, I am against smoking prohibitions.

As a non-smoker, I hated coming out of pubs reeking like an overfull ashtray.

Which left me perpetually puzzled as to why the market did not provide pubs that individually prohibited smoking; after all, there must be plenty of people who like to drink, but not smoke.

So we have smoking bans which I both appreciate and hate.

Its enough to make me want to have a drink, but smoking bans haven't reached the part of the world I am in tonight.

But wait; I'm a libertarian.


Stephen Fawcus said...

I'm a smoker but I'm happy to smoke outside of pubs, I'd prefer not to of course. One thing I have noticed since the ban came into effect is how awful pubs smell without the cigarette smoke to hide the urine, sweat and cooking fat odours that a busy boozer exudes.

Gaw said...

Stephen, there's quite a well-known real ale pub near the canal in Islington called the Wenlock Arms. I've had to stop going there since the ban as the place is overwhelmed by what I can only describe as pickled-egg-in-bag-of-cheese-and-onion aromas. It practically induces gagging.