Back on line

Some people have commented that I seem to have ‘disappeared’ for the past couple of weeks, and in a sense they are right.   Of course there is a story, which is to do with a serious computer failure, and the chain of events that occurred in trying to get it repaired under guarantee. Briefly it has taken the best part of 2 weeks to obtain the label to stick on the box to send it back!   In the meantime I have managed to borrow a temporary replacement which will keep me going until I get my own returned.   Other things causing delay and interruption have happened too, but they are stories for another occasion.   So it is apologies to everyone, but I’m back in action again now. 

Accidents and delays on the M 4, of which there have been several recently, provide unexpected ‘space’ for thinking about issues, and mental health comes quickly to mind as you watch the antics of some of the drivers around you.  But it is the gawpers in the ‘other’ carriageway that really get to me.   Everything seems to slow or stop in both directions simply because some person has had the misfortune to have an accident – why does everyone travelling in the opposite direction have to slow almost to a stop to have a good look at the wreckage of their cars/caravans/bodies?   I suppose there is some explanation for this but I can’t think what it is.   However, back to the M 4 and a recent jam.   I was idly watching other drivers walking around the carriageway, some smoking, and wondered whether a motorway is a public space as it is owned by a public agency?Are you allowed to smoke when walking around a motorway?  In view of the potential danger might this be excused as a ‘last request’?  I didn’t demand that they all put their cigarettes out as they already looked quite angry to me, but perhaps I should have done for the sake of all the non smokers also caught up in the jam – not that many people seemed to be bothered enough to turn off their engines to reduce the carbon emissions – but maybe the things we chose to ‘pick’ on are very specific and personal?(Yup, this also has links to my thinking about stigma and how it occurs – and that won’t surprise those who know me).  All a bit of nonsense really, but it led me on to wondering about the individuals contained in a nearby van used for transporting prisoners, (they seemed to be quite rowdy and banging on the sides of the van – but maybe that was enforced nicotine withdrawal) –  and what is happening in the prison service?   That led to fantasy’s about prisoners being released onto the roadway outside their prisons several times a day to allow them their human right to smoke.   Would a gathering of several hundred prisoners constitute an illegal group which had to be moved on, and to where?   Then how would all this be managed??   With difficulty I would think – but are prisons exempt?   It seems that the ‘rules’ are being applied quite vigorously to public buildings and similar institutions, regardless of the felt needs of some of the people who use them, and are very definitely in support of the overall health of staff working in them – and I agree with that.   But are not prison staff also affected by second hand smoke, and what of the visitors and children using the facilities to see their relatives?   So, has smoking been banned in prisons, and if not why not?  And surely, if we are seriously worried about the effect on public health of noxious emissions,  would not a law which makes drivers switch off their engines in traffic jams have a much greater effect on the general improvement of public health?   I feel letter to Dr Brian Gibbon coming on, and if I get a reply I will let you know, but I won’t hold my breath.   

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2 Responses to “Back on line”

  1. Debbi Says:

    I must say I enjoyed this posting very much and I am glad to see I’m not the only one who has “weird ideas” whilst stuck in traffic/ behind sightseers or more often than not stuck behind a tractor doing 5miles per hour when I am trying to dash somewhere!! But it has given me the chance to tell people who come to the Network Forum meetings that the building AND the grounds are now totally smoke free.

    If you do require a cigarette break you are now requested to exit the grounds totally and maybe walk over the road to the park or to a bench with a bin just outside the grounds. I have frequented both and they are very pleasant whilst the sun is shining. I probably will not be so pleased when the great British weather changes and it is pouring down!!!

    Being a total anorak I looked up “What you need to Know about the new smoke free law” on the Welsh Assembly website. Some of you may be interested to know that “Residental mental health treatment settings” are exempt but “sound smoking policies will be put in place so that non-smoking patients are not unnessessarily exposed to second-hand smoke.” What thoses policies are I do not know but if anyone else does please let us know so we can pass the information on.

    In the meantime, seeing as I work next door to a prison, I will see if 800 or so people appear on a regular basis with smoke signals billowing up into the air (and that’s just the prison officers!!!!).

  2. Brat Prince Says:

    How about if everyone in Wales decided not to buy cigarettes and alcohol for a week, due to the health implications. I’m sure the chancellor of the exchequor would have a few concerns over running public services like the NHS.

    Prisons are an interesting subject though. Inpatient wards are exempt, as basically people are detained agasinst their will. However, they, unlike prisoners have not been convicted of a crime, and are therefore being punished and rehabilitated. However, the European Court of Human Rights might think that having a cigarette is an individual’s right of choice.

    Also, the violence outside of pubs is also likely to rise. Indeed, on my social trip around my home town on the weekend, many of the people standing outside public houses seemed to chance the atmosphere in town, and not by making it more pleasant. As you can’t drink outside and can’t smoke inside, I can see a lot of people with one hand in the pub and one hand outside. Seriously, many people seemed very miffed. Just think of that one when the next Chief Constable states that violent crime isn’t raising, just being reported more (which skew the stats).

    As a smoker, I could claim I am being discriminated against as I can’t partake in my daily rituals at work. Perhaps I’ll ‘go the whole hog, mog’, and change my religion to Rastafarianism? That should cause concern, especially as the government have kept cannabis as a class C drug.

    If we can’t change this law, let’s at least have some fun with it!

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