Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

Smokers have contributed nothing to society - except for their far superior company
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The Independent Online

I am absolutely all for the new powers which will effectively criminalise smoking, as smokers are weak and yellow-toothed and hateful as well as, most unforgivably, quite the most interesting and fun people in the room, or what used be the room but is now outside on the pavement in all weathers. There appears to be no collective noun for smokers who gather in this way, which is fair enough because, even though they've mastered the challenging task of lighting-up in downpours, they are the least deserving and most disgusting of people, so why waste collective nouns on them? (If it were otherwise, I believe "a coffin of smokers" might do, as might "a coughin' ", but that is by the by).

I am absolutely all for the new powers which will effectively criminalise smoking, as smokers are weak and yellow-toothed and hateful as well as, most unforgivably, quite the most interesting and fun people in the room, or what used be the room but is now outside on the pavement in all weathers. There appears to be no collective noun for smokers who gather in this way, which is fair enough because, even though they've mastered the challenging task of lighting-up in downpours, they are the least deserving and most disgusting of people, so why waste collective nouns on them? (If it were otherwise, I believe "a coffin of smokers" might do, as might "a coughin' ", but that is by the by).

Healthy people who speak fluent Pilates - and possibly Yoga as a second language - get collective nouns. I believe they are called "bores" as in: "Quick, quick, let's get out of here before the bores tell us about their wheat intolerances and then go on about meditation as if we don't know it's just sitting around doing nothing and it's no different from being a useless unemployed lump except you get to do it on a fancy mat from Harvey Nichols."

Come to think of it, those who drink their daily two litres of Fiji water, fresh from the waters of Fiji, and flown in freshly from the other side of the world, this being a premium kind of premium water made from the world's most premium rain, might be no better and perhaps even worse.

Indeed, these types often upset their less hydrated colleagues, particularly those who have dried-up faces like juiceless old prunes but still don't want to sit next to someone blowing Fiji droplets in it all day long. Plus, these people piss a lot and are a drain on our sewers, which until now have been the envy of the world, accessible to all unless you go privately, which I have to heartily recommend as you wouldn't want everyone to see.

I might also add here that according to motorway signs "tiredness kills" so never get too near a tired person, as you may pick up their fatigue passively - a yawn is a good sign that someone has got it bad - and quite why tired people aren't made to do their yawning on pavements outside offices remains a mystery. As it is, the fact that tired people are still allowed to be tired in restaurants and bars and on planes and suchlike is mightily offensive to the more lively. In fact, just the other week, I sat next to someone in the cinema who was so tired he actually fell asleep and snored. This quite ruined my enjoyment of the film, and how I now wish I'd had to courage to lean over and say: "Excuse me, if you are going to be tired and snore, could you please do it elsewhere, as it ghastly plus I am pregnant and, as everyone now knows, other people's snoring is very, very bad for babies and can even mean they come out without heads."

Sticking point

Anyway, smokers are a disgrace, and have contributed nothing to society beyond their far superior company, which is always an improvement on anyone else's because they don't even pretend to understand things like endowment mortgages, knowing they'll be nicely dead when something called "the shortfall", whatever that is, becomes relevant. Still, it is hard to understand why they find it so hard to give up, especially as there are now so many aids available. Nicotine patches, for example, are excellent, especially when stuck over each eye, as then you can't see your cigarettes, or even the kerb, which means you'll probably fall under a car and it'll all be all over quickly without draining NHS resources. I can only assume that the new slimming patches I've recently seen advertised- L'Oreal Perfect Slim? - work on much the same principle, except in this instance fat people stick them over their gobs so they can't keep shovelling the chips and doughnuts and Ginster pies in. Fat people are also a terrible drain on the NHS, taking up two seats in hospital waiting rooms and thus halving the number of patients than can be seen as well as stripping the vending machine of even Skittles, which no-one in their right mind actually likes, but it's always comforting to know they are there as a last resort if fatty hasn't got in first.

Vice line

Of course, I welcome the Government's plans for a phone line to report illegal smokers who, I imagine, and hope, will be bundled off in the middle of the night by the Smoking Police and never seen again unless they can find people prepared to hide them in their attics or rolled up in their fancy Yoga mats. (These people may ultimately end up being commemorated in an Avenue of the Righteous, for tolerantly allowing those who only feel properly alive while killing themselves to simply get on with it).

Should the knock come, smokers might try to deny being smokers, but as anyone who has ever tried to smoke secretly knows, there is ultimately no hiding it, and it's only a matter of time before someone you know quite well, like your husband or child, will say crossly: "For god's sake, if you are going to smoke secretly in the bathroom, couldn't you at least get a better air-freshener?"

It may even mean being taken away by the Secret Smoking Police, who are really, really nasty, and will nail down all the top windows so you can't smoke out of them and then insist you haven't, even though the butts on the roof and in the gutters are a give-away.

Tiredness and fat hotlines will probably be next, and then hopefully a bore hotline, so you can report those who run for the sake of it, rather than to the newsagent for fags before it closes, which has a purpose at least.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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