I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about smoking. This is due to the impending “fence to fence” smoking ban at work, coming to a stressed-out workforce near you in three days time.
The Company has come up with what they believe is a compromise; at the 10 minute break in the morning, and in the half hour lunch break, staff will be allowed to walk – a good two or three minutes in some cases – to a pre-determined spot on the pavement outside the main office windows where they will be permitted to kill themselves to their heart’s content (as long as it doesn’t take longer than about four minutes of course)
I have enough confidence in my willpower that I shall attempt to simply not smoke for the twelve hours that I’m on site, as I’d rather eat.
However, there will be others for whom that just isn’t an option, and the ban may even increase their overall fitness, forcing them to take up sprinting in order to get in as many fags as possible before hotfooting it back to their workstation for a good healthy coughing fit.
This might even satisfy the requirements of the exercise “pillar” of The Company‘s Wellness Policy.
While the hopeless nicotine fiends are panting their way to the bucket of sand around which they’ll be forced to huddle, come rain or shine, they might like to ponder the irony that if it wasn’t for the habit-forming nature of the evil weed, we could very well not have been introduced to it at all.
Sir Walter Raleigh
“Nutty Walt” to his friends.
When Walter Raleigh came back from the newly conquered New World in the 1580s, he brought home with him three native Indians who were so hooked on tobacco that they’d had to bring bales of it back to England with them.
Raleigh used this as a perfect opportunity to study the experts taking – or “drinking” – their sacred herb.
He soon became a big fan, and would often be found in his room with his pipe, filling the air with what Queen Elizabeth described as “a foul smelling vapour”.
His habit was not appreciated by many people though, most of whom found it eccentric or even incomprehensible.
This point is illustrated by a story that Raleigh told many times, in which he is seated in his rooms, enjoying a quiet pipe – in those days made from half a walnut shell with a straw for a stem – when one of his gardeners enters and, seeing his master enshrouded in clouds of evil smelling smoke, and fearing he is about to combust, dumps a bucket of water over him.
Raleigh, fortunately for the gardener, found this highly amusing.
Someone else who is highly amusing on the subject of Walter Raleigh is Bob Newhart. Hear what he had to say about him here.
Despite the fact that potatoes arrived on our shores at almost exactly the same time as tobacco, they were nowhere near as popular. Whilst smoking became common practice in all levels of society in a few short years – Tabargies, a kind of tobacco tavern sprang up all over the country – potatoes initially had to be made a compulsory crop in order to get farmers to grow them.
Even then, it took over a hundred years before the common spud became quite so common.
It was expensive though. In Elizabeth’s reign it was the same price, weight for weight, as silver. This would make a 50g pouch of tobacco, at today’s prices, about £40.
Over the centuries, there have been some pretty high profile advocates of smoking including J S Bach, Beethoven, Edward VII, Edison, and General Pershing, American army commander in France, who once sent a telegram saying; “Tobacco is as indispensable as the daily ration, we must have thousands of tons of it without delay”
“Oi, Ludwig, put that fag out”
Indeed, it was the Thirty Years War that helped spread the use of tobacco across Europe, who were slow to pick up on the new fad, (although they have tried hard to catch up since, smoking of course being mandatory in France) and it was the Crimean War that popularised the cigarette as a convenient delivery system, so to speak.
A Tobacco Plant;
Opinion on smoking not known
So as you jog, coughing and spluttering, back from the roadside butt-bin, spare a thought for all the selfless pioneers that have gone before you, giving of their all so that you too may literally burn money.
Pass the ashtray.