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Saturday March 29th



Today I want to begin with an apology. If you were the person walking along the Silverburn River yesterday morning minding your own business and all of a sudden some nutter came charging out from a gateway shouting “GO” and thereafter a mad looney of a Collie came charging after you, barking like mad and trying to bite your backside but couldn’t because of the muzzle, I am extremely sorry. Yesterday morning I walked Skipper alone. I walked through Poulson park and then through the gate that leads to the field and I let Skipper go. It was early so I did not expect anyone to be around. Barbara has been playing a game with Skipper. She lets him off his lead and he sits about 50 yards ahead until he is told to go. Although Barbara was not with me, I knew that Skipper would be sitting about 50 yards up river waiting to hear the word ‘go’. I shouted “go” and then heard the footsteps just a few yards away from me. What happened then was, Skipper ran like hell in pursuit of the owner of the footsteps. I was amazed that he came back to me after only chasing you for about 40 yards or so. It must have seemed a little odd to you. I’m very sorry.


Well this weekend sees the commencement of the smoking ban. I have had experience of living and working in a smoking restricted area. It wasn’t much fun then and the penalties for breaking the ban were severe. I was caught on several occasions. The nuns at St. Vincent’s school for the blind in Liverpool took a very dim view of smoking. I hid my fags in all kinds of weird places. Matches were always a problem as they made too much noise and were to easy detectable by the nuns. So once I had located my fags, I then had to go to the school fence and try and cadge a light from one of the sighted kids on the other side of the fence. I have been totally blind now for 50 years and that was the only time in my life that I have ever gone looking for a light!


The nuns meted out tough punishments to us smoking kids at St.Vincent’s yet; ironically, it was they who inadvertently provided us with the money to buy the cigarettes. As alter boys we stole the money from the Sunday mass collections. We only stole enough to buy 10 woodbines or so and we left plenty for the other good causes. None-the less, the pub will be a very different place come Monday. The pub use to be a place where you could go to drink pints, play darts, smoke and tell lies. No kids were allowed and the only food available was crisps and nuts. Every body knew the landlord’s name and, more importantly, he knew yours. He even worked behind the bar! Yes the smoking ban will mean a much cleaner environment for everyone. However, I wonder just exactly how many that will be. If the smoking ban means that more people give up the weed, then great. It’s a shame though that Governments feel we have to legislate our way in to a smoke free society. It used to be that we didn’t swear in front of children and ladies. We held doors open for people to pass through. We stood up on crowed buses to allow the elderly to sit and we managed to conform without laws to enforce these things. We called it manners and, if we went back to teaching our kid’s manners, then maybe we would not need health policemen, snitch lines and draconian laws to replace basic manners and common sense.


Last year the forth coming smoking ban bothered me. Now Lung cancer bothers me instead!


I remember once travelling on a train from Liverpool to London. It would have been in the early 70’s. I sat on the train trying to workout if I was in a smoking carriage or not. I decided the best way to discover this was to listen out for someone to strike a match. Eventually I heard what I had been waiting for. Someone a few seats in front of me struck a match so, I did like wise. A few minutes later a very official voice of a British Rail guard was standing along side me. “Would you mind putting that cigarette out Sir?” “I’m sorry” said I, “I heard someone strike a match so I thought we must be in a smoking carriage”. “Your match striking friend was put off the train in Birmingham” he retorted.


I guess I am on a train similar to that now. The guard walks up and down patrolling. He keeps chucking people off the train long before they have reached their destination. His name badge reads Lung Cancer.


Until tomorrow then, Tom glassey, News at 8.01 on the banks of the Silverburn River.


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