BUNHILL: Weeding out the smokers

I have a serious complaint about smoking, and may have to sue a tobacco company. It is this. In offices where smoking has been banned, smokers have a huge advantage. For one thing they do not work as much, because they are no longer allowed to puff as they work. For another they are the only people who know what is going on.

Bunhill Towers has a smoking room (see photo), where addicts of the weed congregate. They cannot see each other, but they do not need to because they are so busy swapping gossip. They know who is about to be fired (sorry, downsized), who is consorting with whom, and on whom to put their pennies in the 2.15 at Lingfield.

It is unfair. Having spent my life at the centre of the social whirl, I now feel excluded. Something must be done, and I know what it is. We must have a room where non-smokers can gather to exchange tittle-tattle without being fumigated.

But what? The obvious choice is a dormitory, but I fear the smokers would invade and set fire to the sheets, in the style of Lucky Jim. So what can't you do while smoking? Pick your nose? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure a nose-picking room would be seemly. A room where you blew up balloons, perhaps? Not bad, but it might be difficult to gossip if you are out of breath.

No, the answer must be a swimming pool. Smokers cannot swim, because their cigarettes go out under water, and because their lungs are too battered to keep afloat. Pools are excellent places to gossip, especially while floating on a rubber duck. I hereby demand on behalf of all non- smokers that for every smoking room there be a swimming pool, with adequate supplies of rubber ducks. There.

Maguy Higgs, my correspondent from Birmingham, tells me that Ofwat, which I mentioned last week, is an area next to Angkor Wat by the Irrawaddy. A fib, I think, which is a shame because it would provide a splendid place to send whoever is in charge of Ofwatand all the water company chairmen. Bless them.

Utility futility

One of those water companies, the usual one I'm afraid, has had to grovel to a man who has no water supply. Yorkshire Water sent a bill for pounds 55.86, the standing charge, to Ciaron Riley, who runs a motor repair shop in Selby. He said he did not have water or a toilet. They said he almost certainly nipped into the business next door to use the bog there, and anyway he should pay for the upkeep of the drains that coped with the rainwater flowing from his roof.

They threatened him with court action, and said they would cut his water off. Come round, he said ... at which point he had them by the short and curlies, and they realised it. Do you think Yorkshire Water has a "Let's get some bad press" office?

Maurice Saatchi is not a lord. Nor is Peter Gummer. Nor, for that matter, is Swraj Paul, whose life you will find elegantly detailed in these pages. Yes, we have been told they have all been peerified, but that does not mean they are peers.

Sir Jeffrey Sterling discovered this when he thought he had become a lord. No, he was told, you have to wait until you get an official notification, which could be two months after you have been announced. What you should be doing now, Sir Jeff, is to think of the place you want to be lord of. Then we will tell you if you can be; then you get the sealed envelope.

The same used to be true of knights and OBEs and other such riff-raff: they were supposed to use their gong only after they had picked it up from Buckingham Palace. But we spoilsports in the press started using the handle immediately, and correct form was forgotten. A shame, I think.

Ads you like

Back to our competition to find new trade names. From Bob Edgecombe of Dunmow, a soap for adolescents called Simply Pimply; paper handkerchiefs called Snotties; and Gusto, the alternative to relish, as in "He ate with Gusto and Relish".

Chris Sladen of Ealing offers Mother's Shame, for factory-made sliced bread, while WJ Mason of Norwich comes up with the euphonious Booboobado for a brassiere.

Jeff McCready of Croydon offers a sad footnote to my new tax competition. "Is there," he wonders, "a tax on our British team winning Olympic medals? Perhaps a rebate might improve performance?"

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
people
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

IT Operations Manager - London - £55,000

£50000 - £55000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Relationship M...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past