Tolerance and a gentle smile

Thursday January 5, 2006

I confess that I relish the way exciting or at least absorbing happenings tend to pile up all in one or two days, rather than smoothing out into an even stream. Sometimes the boring days, which are also inclined to lump together, get me to feeling flat and uninspired but even so I prefer my life unhomogenized. Keeps me going, does the uneveness of life.

The exciting event of the day was of course the call from the house agent to tell me that the viewers from yesterday like the house immensely, and want to come back for a second visit tomorrow afternoon.

“This might be it,” I said as I put the phone down and reported the conversation to Graham. “I’m doing my best to keep my enthusiasm in check, but I really do think this is the closest we’ve come to getting a sale.”

“We’ll see. I shall take the Crimbo decorations down this evening.”

“You do that. I’m going to cook up some meatballs for our dinner.”

“It’s a deal.”

All the other interesting stuff happened earlier, in the form of a morning trip to Boston, where Graham bought himself a very flashy new phone and I gave myself a treat in the form of an all-day breakfast in Georgies, relishing in the good old British fug of Lincolnshire sausages, fried bacon, and second-hand cigarette smoke.

We’re only a short time away from a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places and I have to say I have mixed feelings on the question. Very few eating places allow their customers to smoke nowadays and, if we’re not to have our entire world clean, homogenized, and boring, I cannot see the harm in allowing smokers—all the staff smoke, at a reserved table away from the counter and food preparation area—to provide other smokers with a cosy place to relax and enjoy their vice.

Militant non-smokers don’t need to eat in or visit such establishments and, in my view, should leave them be, and allow people like me who adopt a live and let live approach to drop in now and again in remembrance of times past.

Hell, I was brought up in a society filled with tobacco smoke, and added to it in my day. Many of my fondest memories are set in pubs and cafes where you could cut the air, almost, thick as it was. All my most creative work in the computer field was carried out with my pipe and a bottomless coffee cup in easy reach.

I’ve decided it’s best for me not to smoke in my later years. That doesn’t mean I have the right to deny others the freedom to enjoy their vice in places set aside for the purpose.

Hey ho.

I made several small side trips, including one to Marks & Spencer for two small sponge puddings with raspberry sauce, and ended up joining Graham in the phone shop where he was just concluding his deal. Then, to Costa Coffee, where I tucked into a panettone and a very large cup of good strong black coffee, while he examined the delights of his new toy over a latte. My attitude to phone addiction and this strange appetite for over-milky coffee is much the same as the one I maintain towards smokers. Tolerance and a gentle smile. Drives him mad, it does.



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