Saturday 8 May 2010

irresponsible, that's me

I have kept away from the radio as much as possible over the last day or so, as I found the endless speculations about what might happen next, while the election results were totted up, didn't really add anything to my day. It's like constantly opening the oven door while something's cooking. And then at the end of it you get a soggy souffle, collapsed at the bottom of the dish.

Talking of soggy souffles, there was some chap from the Labour Party on the radio this morning, who seemed aggrieved that a grateful nation had not voted entirely in his direction, but still hailed the results as a victory of sorts for Labour. All very odd. It reminded me of Henry Kissinger's opinions about Chile, just before he helped Pinochet into power:

"The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."

"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."


I popped into the Bristol Royal Infirmary yesterday, to visit a friend. As always, I had to wade through a miasma of cigarette smoke at the main entrance, chiefly coming from people skimpily attired in hospital issue nightwear. One chap was sitting in a wheelchair, because he only had one leg. Puffing away like fury, he was. Living on borrowed time, I guess.


  1. They were speculating here in France too. Soggy souffle sums it up beautifully

    Strange you should mention the man with one leg; I once had a friend who was told that her circulation was so bad due to smoking that she would lose her feet if she didn't stop.

    Perhaps he was tempting fate.

  2. Or defying it? -I wondered if he had lost his leg because of the smoking. A visit to hospital is a very good way to put you off smoking, when you see the people doing it outside.

    There was a woman on my ward in London a few years ago, who had serious health problems from obesity; and as soon as she was well enough, she would pop out and bring back heaps of burgers and chips for herself....

  3. Now we are having to face up to the soggy soufflé on our plates!

    Caroline xxx

  4. It will be interesting to see how your political situation sorts itself out. I imagine the Conservatives will have to make deals with the Liberal Democrats, if they expect to get anything done. I think our Republicans could learn a few things from your Conservatives, but I'm afraid the Republican Party been pulled so far to the right, that the lesson will fall on deaf ears.

    Some people are hopelessly addicted to smoking. I once read about a man who had to have his larynx removed because of cancer, yet he continued to smoke cigarettes through the hole the surgeon made in his trachea!

    Melissa XX

  5. And we're now beginning to see signs prohibiting smoking in outdoor areas near entrances now. Perhaps there should be a standard distance for non-smoking cordons, patrolled by feral youths and bored pensioners. Just an idea.
    I once spent three days on a hospital ward with a man called Richard who had blackened soles and the surgeons had removed a slab of dead flesh (he claimed) about three inches thick on either side of each calf. All because the smoking had stunted his circulation. He was dying for a cigarette, but all I could help him with was bottles of highly spiced condiments and the odd jar of mustard, just to make the food more palatable. It was cooked in an aircraft hanger in South Wales at the time and then sent along the M4 in refrigerated lorries. Then microwaved. Even the fish and chips. Foul.
    But I gave up smoking after that stay in hospital. Three days away in morphine land because of the kidney stones (boulders!) and I'd gone through the cold turkey without even realising it. I kept my baccy & papers for a year but was never tempted. I still feel like a lifelong non-smoker but without the intolerance even now, eight years later. I sometimes enjoy the smell of burning tobacco but have no desire to smoke. I almost started again when the smoking ban was brought in, but that would have been an act of political defiance rather than because I wanted a fag. But I didn't so I didn't.
    There. You wanted to know all that, didn't you?
    Best wishes,etc.

  6. @ Graham

    Good for you, for sticking to your guns! :-)

    Melissa XX (smoke free since 1996)

  7. I gave up a few years before that, Melissa; I lack Graham's tolerance, though...

    ...I took my friend in hospital a bag of M&S salads, Graham, as I remember all too clearly how much I longed for something fresh and green when staying in hospital.

    The prob with smoking outside is that it makes the surrounding area fetid. Sitting outside at a pub isn't a viable option because that's where all the smokers go. And the inside of pubs smell of all the things that you couldn't smell before because of the tobacco pong. All in all, a good reason to avoid pubs. I had an argument with a couple of Sloaney students when eating at an outside table at a cafe here, last week; they finished their snacks and fired up ciggies, despite one of them being seated inches away from my daughter. "We're *allowed* to smoke here", they brayed... grudgingly put out the fags, then fired them up ostentatiously as they left, just to be annoying.

    I suggest Spurn Head as the National Designated Smoking Zone, unless the wind is from the east, in which case, it can be Holyhead, which is such a shithole that it wouldn't make much difference anyway.

  8. The oven door thing is ABSOLUTELY bang on. You can't fiddle with a souffle once you've shut the door. The next fiddle is in the eating.

    I have hospital stories, too (it's a button we've all got handy) but I think it's all been covered elegantly above. On a lung ward (on oxygen myself) and surrounded by immobile patients on the mobile phones begging relatives to come and wheel them outside for a fag.

    It's an argument against socialised medicine... and a frustrating one - which reminds me, in Oz recently I had call to visit a doctor...and got a shock when I was asked to write a cheque on leaving. I'd forgotten! No NHS! We are so very, very lucky here.

    Radio 4 this morning is trying to drum home a message of instability and unease bc we are a nation without a leader. (Wandering around with a microphone: "Who is leading the country?" "How do you feel about that?") I don't buy it. This is why oven doors are transparent. It's still a souffle.

    I could chunter on here all day - I am avoiding the laundry. What a wonderfully provocative blog post.


  9. I've never really smoked (couldn't get past the vomiting stage) but I enjoy the smell of a freshly lighted cigarette.

    Sitting outside cafés here has lost its charm somewhat because of the smokers.

    When my dad was dying of cancer I remember my mum saying that he'd managed to eat the prawn sandwich which he'd been given for his evening meal. I can't imagine that they were fresh prawns in a hospital sandwich....

  10. A National Designated Smoking Zone! What a great idea. You could have whole emphysemic family groups trudging along for a group smoke-in, being taunted and stoned by the massed ranks of the born-again non-smoking evangelical health fascists, spraying them with fire extinguishers and ASH leaflets. Or maybe just let them puff away in peace.
    I love the smell of pipe tobacco, it reminds me of my grandfather and drawing chalk lines on the carpet for games of marbles. Roll-ups and cigars likewise, but actual ready made cigarettes lack something. So it goes.

    And as for the prawn sandwich, hmm. Were they really prawns I wonder? You can get these things called 'warm water' or 'tropical' prawns. They look like prawns, they're pink and slightly fishy tasting, but they have the texture of small offcuts from a paddling pool factory.

    I made a lovely Moussaka today.

  11. What have you got against Spurn Head? Why send all the smokers there? Somewhere just North of Liverpool would make more sense. They wouldn't have to travel so far!

  12. Hi Federay! sorry I took so long to reply, been recovering from a late night of Japanese poetry.

    I find the smell of cigs really vile, Anji; maybe it's the ex-smoker in me. But I don't feel that I should avoid being negative about smoking just because I'm an ex-smoker, any more than I should be tolerant of hard drugs just because I used to take them. At least my antipathy is an informed antipathy...

    I don't see any particular reason to set the health fascists on the smokers, Graham; they are a sufficiently bad advertisement for themselves, hanging out in the cold looking seedy and smelling horribly. I had half expected a severe winter to kill them off, but at least it would be nice to think that young people will eventually think it Not Cool. Though, seeing the Young Idea slouching around outside school and ostentatiously waving the Silk Cut around, maybe not just yet...
    I agree that it would be unfair to Spurn Head, Anne, but at least the pong would get blown out to sea. Maybe we could erect a big dome over Liverpool to keep the pong in, instead? Like the smoking rooms I saw at Singapore Airport; glass-sided rooms filled with a dense grey-yellow murk, through which the cheery smokers cold be dimly descried. If they did that to beagles, the ALF would dash in and liberate them.