LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: THE GREAT SMOKING DEBATE –  APRIL 2006

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: THE GREAT SMOKING DEBATE – APRIL 2006

Dear Sir,
Having followed with some interest the correspondence regarding the impending smoking ban, I am disappointed that no-one thus far has considered the matter from the standpoint of the professional wino. Many of these colourful characters – whose antics as they rattle half-jaked around Hunter Square, shouting at parked cars and reeking of piss, add so much to the vibrant buzz of city life – are themselves enthusiastic smokers. However, what with a packet of fags now costing the equivalent of 3 litres of White Star superstrength cider out of Scotmid, they are rarely able to fund their habit. Nothing daunted, these resourceful – if steaming -gentlemen of the road realised that a daring commando style raid on a busy bar could yield a king’s ransom in pre-smoked tobacco from unattended ashtrays. Cinema foyers and job centres could also provide a bountiful harvest for the determined tramp, and the fag-end gleanings from the average bookies would set you up for the week. No more alas – with one stroke of the pen, the Scottish Executive has done away with all that.

First this government muted the hunting horn in the fields of the shires; now it is bent on silencing the wheezing, hacking, asthmatic rasp of the dosser that has long been the true dawn chorus of our towns. Where will it all end?
Anthony J T Kerr,
Jedburgh.

"Contrary to popular belief Churchill never smoked."

Dear Sir,
May I congratulate Mr Kerr for his courage in alerting the public to this government’s assault on our cherished morning lung rattler? I myself find that there is no finer way to start the day than by grogging up a greener or two; my father always swore that a good fifteen minutes of howking and gobbing was better for body and soul than the Swedish excercises then affected by so many of his peers; and my grandfather once confided in me that expectorating great gouts of chewy sputum afforded him greater pleasure than sexual congress with my grandmother. Having met the lady in question I can well believe this, although I have been told that in her younger days she did not sport quite so luxuriant a moustache. Furthermore, in his wartime memoir, ‘Blood, Sweat, Tears and other Bodily Fluids’, we discover that even Sir Winston Churchill – and even in the darkest hours of his tussle with Hitler – would regularly void himself of upwards of a pint of ‘dirty oysters’ before facing up to the rigours of the day. It was the smoker’s cough that defeated the Nazis – who knows when we may need it again?

And another thing – that Hitler was a vegetarian. What do you make of that then, eh? Don’t get me started, just don’t get me started.

Magnus K Moodie,
Edinburgh.

"Melinda Messenger: Sucking an ice lolly yesterday."

Dear Mr Editor,
Who’s gone and rattled Magnus Moodie’s cage then? He wants to lay off us vegetarians, he does. That’s what he wants to do. Anyway, it’s the vegans he wants to worry about, sinister, stringy, shaven-headed vegans. I just don’t trust them. Plus, like, has anyone ever actually shagged one? I mean, not even with yours, love. Let’s face it, they all look like cancer patients for a start, and on that diet if they had a shite round at your flat it’d stink the place out for days, and as for the sex – well, you’re not gonna tell this girl you can go like a steam train all night on a slab of tofu and a handful of mung beans. Pur-lease!

Melinda Messenger,
London.

Dear Sir,
Might I suggest that Mr Kerr’s sympathy is misplaced? If his precious jakeys are that desperate for ‘snout’, as we ‘old lags’ call it, they will find it freely available on our city pavements. Indeed, if I remember correctly, both front and rear entrances of the Sheriff Court are simply awash with discarded fag butts. Then again I was somewhat twitchy at the one and in a van at the other, so I can’t be absolutely sure. No matter – my reason for writing is to bring your readers’ attention to the plight of those smokers society has placed inside a jail, lying tobacco-less in their cells gazing at that little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky. Some convicted of crimes they did not commit, some of those they did – and some of course of crimes they said they didn’t, but then admitted to when clean caught on video.

Not that I’m saying that prison is wrong. It gives us all a chance to pay our debt to society, and to start over with a clean slate. From a personal point of view, I must say, it’s a refreshingly democratic experience as well – no matter what your title on the outside, in prison everyone treats you as just one of the lads. Except one or two who treat you as their bitch. Still, it’s time to let bygones be bygones, to forgive and forget, and move on. Everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t they?

Anyway, anyone fancy my prison memoirs? Oh, go on, Mandela got millions for his, you can have mine for, what, a hundred? Fifty? A score, then, oh you know it makes sense. Anyone? Please? Hello? Hello?

Lord ‘Mike’ “Mikey Boy” Watson, via e-mail.

"The weekly’s new sister publication “Coffin Nails” which hopes to promote smoking amongst the vital under six market."

Dear Sir,
Your correspondent Moodie is talking absolute rot and is a bit of a four-letter fellow to boot. Those of us who did our bit in the last show know that the war wasn’t won by a foul gang of nicotine fiends – indeed, recent scholarship suggests that Herr Hitler was only able to waltz into Poland without so much as an ‘I say, old chap’ because Chamberlain and that lot had all sneaked out the back at the time for a fly gasper.

Well, that was war and no mistake, and damn glad I was of it too. I set off at once  in the old jalopy to London to enlist, pausing only briefly to say farewell to my dear mother and pick up my footer bags. A lot of the fellows did the same, you see, thinking we might get a chance to hoof the pill about with Brer Boche in any breaks in hostilities, rather like the chaps in the 14-18 outing in the Somme and parts thereabouts. Not that footer would really have meant a stop to war, let me assure you, because those old lace-up balls we used were no joke. Anyway, as it turned out, kickabouts in no-man’s-land were kiboshed by the brass hats, largely because our Jerry was an absolute s-h-one-t. Those in the earlier shindig had actually been awfully decent eggs on the whole, just led astray by that damn fool frother of a Kaiser Bill of theirs.

I say, do you remember that tune ‘I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman’ by Whistling Jack Smith? A bit of a toe-tapper, and literate and witty too, quite unlike the rubbish that infests the Hit Parade these days. You can’t make out the words half the time.

Patrick Moore,
London Planetarium.

"Lord Sebastion Coe lights up his sixteeth of the morning."

Dear Editor,
If there is one thing that truly sickens me, it is ‘Versace Vegetarians’ like Melinda Messenger having a go at us vegans in an attempt to assuage their own guilt at their inability to commit fully to the cause. So Melinda objects to our being shaven-headed? Well, for her information, each month I donate my hair to an autonomous collective in Turkmenistan where it is used to knit wigs for abused donkeys to help them survive the harsh Caspian winter. So our poo might whiff a bit (and like her’s doesn’t!)? Well, I consider that a small price to pay to break the cycle of death and violence which man has imposed upon the animal kingdom. What’s worse, I bet she uses bog roll – well, I don’t. Why should the forests of the world – the lungs of the planet – be devastated just so I don’t have a sticky arse. And remember, Melinda, in case I ever do come round to yours, using toilet paper is just ethically wrong full stop. Don’t think you can get round me by hiding the Kleenex Velvet and the Andrex Moist, and offering a torn up Herald and Post instead. If you’re lucky, I might do the dirty dog on your hall carpet, but that’s it.

And as for sex – well, in her own words, pur-lease! Is Melinda not aware that many vegans are also adepts of tantric yoga, who, in order to release the energy of kundalini that lies coiled within us all, will engage in ritual sex going on for hours – and I do mean hours – without once coming off, or getting even close to that tickly bit at the end?

-Not me, though. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

The Manager,
Real Foods,
Edinburgh.

Hi there,
I must disagree with Patrick Moore regarding the alleged lack of wit in contemporary popular music. I for one find ‘I Eat Cannibals’ by Toto Coelo to be an unfailing and richly textured source of delight.

Name and address respectfully withheld.
(Alistair Jeremy Ross Watt, Lady Nairn Terrace, Edinburgh).

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