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Don’t tempt me
I WONDER if, more than two weeks in, big shops and supermarkets being made to hide tobacco products like a coy woman hides her petticoats, is beginning to cut down on the number of people smoking?
Are people sidling up to kiosks in Tesco or Asda and with furtive looks over their shoulder asking for 40 king-size out of the corner of their mouths?
Or are they just heading to their corner shop instead which, for the next three years until the display ban hits them too, has the potential to become a smoker’s local fag speak-easy?
The Department of Health claims that covering up cigarettes from public view will discourage people from taking up the habit, but the 1930s Prohibition in the United States didn’t exactly stop people downing their vodka martini with a twist or bourbon on the rocks did it?
But maybe our nanny-state health officials haven't actually gone far enough. Why stop at hiding cigarettes? If they’re so concerned about our well-being and want to stop us consuming things that affect our health, they could solve the obesity timebomb at a stroke by making supermarkets hide packets of crisps, sticky buns, chocolate, sweets, butter, margarine, sausages, bacon, ‘plastic’ ham, all processed bread and ready meals.
Oh, and red meat, because it’s bad for you if you eat it more than twice a week. And eggs, because they can give you salmonella. Plus soft, ikky, Brie-style cheeses, because they can too.
And I haven’t even started on the booze aisle yet. Not to mention anything containing E numbers, which has the potential to banish most tinned food and table sauces.
At this rate, your average supermarket could become remarkably GUM-like, the Moscow store where in the bad old days of the Cold War, people snaked round the corner to queue up for not very much on the bare shelves.
While they’re at it, the health control freaks can restrict how much petrol we can access (who needs striking tanker drivers to do that?), provide families with government-issue bikes and make everyone walk or cycle to their local GUM so they get fitter in the process of not eating the food, drinking the booze or smoking the fags that used to be readily available for them to abuse themselves with.
We should all be made to turn over our gardens to spuds (but not too many as they can pile on the pounds too), onions and runner beans so we can eat more healthily and do away with air-freighted veg in the process, so helping the ozone layer.
And if we don’t have gardens we should be issued with window boxes so we can grow little tomatoes and herbs so that we too can do Our Bit for a healthy, leaner Britain. Then we would have a really Little Society rather than a Big one. Because let’s face it, that hasn’t worked has it?
• TALKING of the Government providing bikes to keep us all on the fitness straight and narrow might have sounded like a bit of nonsensical whimsy, but it’s almost already happening.
Friends of ours were visiting the new home of friends of their own in south London who very proudly showed them round their new-build property, complete with shed.
Not that they’d been down to B&Q and bought one. Oh no. Remember the days of the property boom when first time buyers got carpets, a washing machine and fridge thrown in as part of the deal? Well, this pair had no such choice in the matter. They got a shed whether they liked it or not.
It’s purpose? Not for storing plant pots and compost so they could grow their own tub vegetables on the patio as their contribution to the Little Society, that’s for sure, although that would, of course, have been laudable usage.
No, this shed, they were told, was for their bikes. Not that they have bikes, but the message was clear – keep cars off the road and put bikes on them. Not that cycling in London is exactly as safe a pursuit as it should be with 16 people killed and about 450 seriously injured in the capital last year. I detect the hand of Boris the Blonde Bombshell. So would obligatory back garden bike sheds work here in York? I think our very own on-line cycling pundit Pedalling Paul should be sent south to find out.