The Great Anti-Smoking Conspiracy
We all know that smoking is bad for you. We all know that the smoker - when laid to rest - his life cut short, will have coughed up his lungs, had a dodgy heart, bad circulation, bad breath, rotten teeth, bronchitis, a floppy todger, and - having lit his last fag - blown himself up in his own oxygen tent.
And we all know, because of this, that the government in it's wisdom is working hard to protect us by banning - in public places - the smoking of tabs, so that now, when you go to a pub, the air is so clean that there is nothing to mask the farts and body odour of the obese clientele.
And we also know that smoking, if not curtailed, will end up costing us billions of squids, because the smoker - selfish bastard that he is - is hogging all the beds in the national health.
And I used these arguments the other day - defending the smoking ban - to my mate Fiddle-dak Price. He stopped me dead. Big hand on my shoulder. Looked me hard in the eyes.
"Nah mate. That's bollocks! They didn't ban smoking because it's bad for your elf. They banned smoking because it promotes free-thinking."
I was flummoxed.
"An as for that shit about costing the elf service... that's even more bollocks!"
I was still flummoxed! I voiced it. "But but but..." I said.
"Thought you'd a worked it out," Said Fiddle-dak, cutting me short. "Basic arithmetic. What you save in the cancer ward you lose in the care home. All those non-smokers are gonna live longer, go senile, and waste away in an old people's home. Gonna cost the taxpayer a lot more money!"
"But even so," I replied. "Surely it's better to live longer!"
"Ain't denying it," Replied Fiddle-dak. "Just saying that that ain't the reason they're banning fags. They're banning fags cause they make people naughty. Makes 'em rebellious."
"That's... that's just no true!"
"Yes it is. There's something in fags that promotes free-thinking. It's a property of the tobacco."
He paused. "Governments don't like free-thinking, it makes naughty and rebellious people. Makes the government's job much harder!"
"Where are you getting this from," I replied. "Sounds like a conspiracy theory!"
"Not a conspiracy theory," replied Fiddle-dak. "A conspiracy fact!"
The Gypsy Philosopher Explains the Theory
And while I remained gob-smacked, Fiddle-dak Price, the gypsy philosopher, gypsy arithmetician and gypsy prize-fighter, explained to me how tobacco - and it's rebellious inducing properties - had changed the world since it's discovery in the Americas, and why the governments of the world were so anxious to ban it! And not just now but in the distant past too!
"Before tobacco was brought to Europe," continued Fiddle-dak, "Your common man lived in servitude... He lived in a feudal system... Did as he was told... no questions asked. Tobacco comes to Europe, and the feudal system starts to break down. People are thinking for themselves. If you need any more evidence look at America... The home of tobacco. No feudal system there. The red Indians were all smokers. Lived a hunter gatherers life... Bit like the gypsies. Free spirits, rebellious, fought the white man all the way. And look at the white himself in America. He took up smoking, rebelled against the British and set up a democracy. That's what tobacco does!"
"Of course, didn't take long for the governments to realise this. King James the first hated smoking. He tried to ban it. But tobacco had done it's work. Smoking men overthrew him... the English revolution... He was done for! And the Czar in Russia... he did manage to ban it. No mystery there why the feudal system lasted so long! In fact... All tyrants have hated smoking. Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Himmler... And look at the men who defeated them. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin... all smokers! Admittedly, Stalin was a bit dodgy! But it proves the point!"
I began to see sense in Fiddle-dak's argument.
"And think back to when you was at school. It was the kids who smoked who were a bit naughty. More likely to rebel. The teachers hated them... couldn't control them. And that's why the government don't want us to smoke. They want us to be good. They want us to pay their taxes, have identity cards, support their wars... They don't want free-thinking and rebellious people."
And when Fiddle-dak had finished we were on the hill overlooking the tan where his trailer was parked. He told me that his missus was cooking a meat pudding and that I was welcome to have some. But if we wanted to smoke our cigars we'd have to do it outside, because she would not tolerate those filthy things inside her trailer - and he wasn't going to argue with her.
FRITZ & TOMMY
THE BALLBAG PAPERS