Saturday, 12 March 2011

no smoke with out fire or ire

I am blessed with an alchemist as a neighbour. He firmly believes that metal will burn, he seeks the jewel within a stack of burning metal. He thinks plastic burns. He has a great huge round circle of scorched earth at the rear of his property that regularly piles up with wood, carpet, old plastic chairs, anything, anything, tyres, anything. And then he burns it. As we walk past, son, who is just 4, remarks "But metal doesn't burn and plastic just smells!" Quite. And pollutes. After one of his huge plastic chair burning fests I wondered if the chickens would survive (I needen't have bothered: in the end of days, my chickens will be there. The kids can't kill them, the kids leftovers can't kill them, plastic fumes merely make them stronger.Expect an Uber Chicken Superhero any day now). I contacted the council after an American friend pointed out that in the USA, that man would have been drenched in USA fireman hose and fined to extinction. Here, it's a cycle of 3 polite letters, after which they send a mild mannered bloke out to see the bonfire and have a quiet discussion. Meanwhile tons of plastic nastiness has been exhumed into the air, and my chickens.

It made me think of the current smoking pallaver. Son and daughter are both deeply, deeply interested in smoking. Why do people do it? All fags are "smokers", every person smoking we pass means a full five minutes of nose flapping and saying "it STINKS!" They both profess to hate it . "Bob must stop! Or his baby will DIE! But why is he?" and so on. They know it is bad. They know it stinks. I walk past people smoking with them and know both will pass flapping their hand saying "it SMELLS! That lady/man STINKS!" and whilst slightly embarressing, it's the better sort of chagrin. But, beneath it all is an absolute fascination as to why people do bad things. Both kids are compelled by it, why someone might put a burning thing in their mouth. I am keen to encourage disgust at the habit, although it can never truly insulate the child. I was a vehemant anti-smoker, born of having two smokers as parents in the 70's. Imagine: sending your kid to the shop for fags now. Imagine smoking as you drive with two kids in the back seat. Imagine parties full of people smoking, smoking, while you wear exceptionally flammable party dresses in polyester at nibbles tray height. My whole childhood was smoke ridden. I transported home textbooks of lungs to show them. I said I never would. But, I did. Because, if it's normal, when you are a kid, it's normal somewhere in your psyche.

And so I smoked. And not. And smoked. And not.
Before I was an ex-smoker (which I have been, with varying succes, for periods of 1 month to 7 years) I could never see that it was advertised. It passed me by. I just smoked, is all. It wasn't until I had kids that the issue of where and how they were in shops hit me. My kids are canny, they noticed that the fags were by the till sweets. That's two issues, sweets, and fags by the till. Both kids have commented that "smokers" are by the sweets. It never occured to me that the packaging was beyond adult. As an adult, I always figured that i'd go for my brand,whatever, the proposed ban on cig packaging may have seemed like overkill. But as a parent, the fascination with the colored packs behind the checkout, alongside the sweets IS my concern, and a plain package is one thing that this government could do that I would agree with. (Bet they don't though: too much Tory tobacco money). To have them for sale, with colours, by sweets, makes them normal. Put them under the counter, no colours. Not normal.Those that want, can have. Those that haven't noticed, don't notice.

I would love for my kids to grow up where fags are under the counter. I love that they point out smokers, and people who spit. I love that they find that nasty. I don't think my mum, my friends who smoke and others would mind in the least picking up plain packets. I wouldn't. I would just be happy that one more reason to smoke had been taken away.

1 comment:

georgie said...

I find smoking rather offensive,more so for my youngest child when we're coming out of hospital and they're all congregated around the entrance and you have to dodge your way through the plumes of smoke with your asthamatic child.