Have you got a light; boy?

When much younger I smoked cigarettes, lots and lots of cigarettes; at one time I smoked a pipe, but mainly cigarettes. I honestly forget how I started, it was probably because my Dad smoked, and all my mates commenced smoking, and you feel ‘left out’ if you aren’t doing what your mates are doing. There was a fair bit of advertising, mostly for British brands, and as I lived for most of my teenage years in a pub, we got used to smoking.

The advertising was all around us, from Senior Service, to Woodbines, the sophisticated smoked Gauloise, those who felt lucky went for Luckies, for Chesterfield; and of course for the big one: Marlborough. We smoked, and inhaled, and honestly believed that smoking helped us relax, and helped us tackle stress, and not too many people wondered why such an awful lot of cash was literally pouring into the Advertising.

asmoker.01When the British saw this in 1940, it wasn’t considered anything else than linking a patriotic photo with a product which was considered okay; after all if the Royal Navy smoked; and His Majesty the King smoked, what did that say for the products? Maybe a little naive, but we were at war, and we needed to cling to something. After the War was over, the ads got a lot more into our lives, and they went from ‘smoke this, and you are cool’ to ‘you are never alone with a Kent’.

Over in America, Big Tobacco was pushing for ‘Market Share’ with all the tobacco giants scrambling for their share of the suckers’ cash, and there was one hell of a lot of cash just swishing around. From Camels’ ‘less nicotine’ to Chesterfields’ ‘Top choice’, they all shoved their wares into the minds of asmoker.04America, but the big winner was Philip Morris; with one single advert series ‘Come back to Marlboro Country’, where they went from a one percent share to the fourth largest cigarette company in the USA. Darrell Winfield was the epitome of the Marlboro Man, an image which was designed to reflect that which Americans believe, and to a large extent, are, which is rugged, individualistic, and stubborn. He epitomised resilience, self-sufficiency, independence and free enterprise.”

The adverts also were, legally, very very subtle and clever. Because they levered the ‘individualistic’ idea of America, they also pushed the ‘fact’ that the smoker chooses to smoke entirely of his own free will, and nobody made him inhale noxious substances by force.

I stopped smoking over thirty years ago, before I returned to England with my family. It was a nightmare journey which lasted for over a fortnight; I was like a bear with a sore head, my kids walked softly past my armchair; and the worst part was when I found myself reaching out for a non-existent pack of smokes. But then the craving went away, I re-discovered my sense of smell, of taste, and the fiction that it helped me relax was also found to be false. I had been addicted, and I had broken that addiction. Fortunately, all of my kids have never smoked, as they have far too much sense, and of course they saw what it did to me, with a hacking cough which never seemed to leave me, together with the reek of tobacco smoke on all my clothing. I stopped for purely economic reasons when we left South Africa; I was buying thirty smokes for 30p, and when we came back in 1984, I saw the prices on the shelves at twenty smokes for £1.85. I had a ‘health check-up’ about eight years after I stopped smoking, and the Consultant remarked ‘Your lungs are just starting to recover’. Says a great deal for the strength of my body, but also a great deal about the suggestive power of words, and pictures, in adverts today!

The silly cow should have stayed home.

Just about a year ago, I wrote in fairly straightforward and uncompromising language of the fools who went towards their deaths in Syria and the surrounding regions. I of course am writing of the foolish people such as James Foley, (beheaded), Alan Henning (beheaded), many others all either shot or beheaded, and the latest name to appear once more in the headlines of the press, Kayla Mueller (apparently killed either by Isis, or the American bomb strikes).

The stories which now come tumbling out of the ether about this silly, stupid and totally, mind-bogglingly confused, young woman are mainly space-fillers, basing their content upon claims by ‘released’ Yazidi female hostages of the sexual activities of the Isil leader as he allegedly raped this young ‘aid worker’ in the days and weeks before her death. Its a bit like our own politicians saying, loudly and piously, ‘Look what happens when you don’t embrace Democracy’.

Bullshit! And again, Bullshit! Kayla Mueller went into the most dangerous place on this Earth, (most dangerous for Westerners, especially good-looking western women) because she ‘wanted to help’. No one begged her to go across the border to work with Medecins sans Frontieres and some so-called charity called Support for Life; no one dragged her by her hair, she walked and drove into the cauldron because she was ‘deeply’ moved by the stories of suffering, and ‘she wanted to help’. She got exactly what she deserved, because she made the fatal mistake of thinking that the fundamentalists are just misguided Muslims, trying to make their own way in the fog which is Islamic thinking. She was wrong! She died because she thought she knew better; better than all those who warned her, and many others exactly like her, that Isil was worse than all the others. Worse because there are few things in this world to be feared than a bunch of fanatics who do not fear death, but actually embrace it, if it brings their beloved Caliphate one step nearer.

As I previously wrote:-

“It is all very well saying ‘These actions, by these murderous men, are against civilised behaviour’, when everyone accepts that most of these terrorists, and probably all of their supporters, don’t accept Western values or behaviour at all. They think us decadent, they think us immoral, they think us foolish. So why even bother to help, when the helpers will no doubt be treated the same as they do to their other enemies and captives.

It is all very well for Lord Dannatt, he of the smart uniform and totally-closed mind, to state that British soldiers should go and fight in that sandy shit-hole; but I notice that he wasn’t volunteering his services.

As I stated before, they brought their fate upon themselves, and not a single bullet, nor a gallon of fuel, nor a drop of blood should be spilled by America or the United Kingdom to rescue the fools who knowingly went into Bedlam!”