I remember being required to attend a meeting a decade or so back at the BBC, a meeting of “The News and Current Affairs Cigarette Working Party” (NCACWP). I asked in advance if cigarettes were provided or should we bring our own, but the organizers of the thing – Human Resources, natch – weren’t amused. Shortly after, smoking was banned in the BBC. I suppose there is not the remotest chance of David Cameron reversing the anti-smoking legislation, despite the havoc it has caused in the pub trade and the infringement of personal liberty and the cost to local councils of having beady eyed little men, with the deathly grey pallor of perpetual masturbators, poking their noses into any and every public premise on the lookout for evil smokers. One government minister, Dawn Primarollup, released some figures a bit ago which proved that nobody has cancer or heart disease any more as a consequence of the ban – and the Tories seemed to swallow this guff. However, for those of you interested in carrying on the fight the BBC is running a sort of poll on the issue, so I suppose it might be worth adding our four pennyworth.
Meanwhile, I spent part of the weekend chaperoning my daughter and her friends at a “petting farm”, where they get to feed sheep and goats, ride on a tractor, play in the hay bales etc. (She’s 26 now, bless her). I asked the chap in charge of our group if he’d had lots of cancellations recently as a consequence of the terrible Ecoli scare and he said yes, of course, we’re almost empty for the time of year. He said there was no point in closing his farm down because it was no less safe now than it was five, ten or fifteen years ago (other petting farms have closed their doors as the hysteria mounts). He also said he thought that 95 per cent of Ecoli cases at these sorts of farms would have come from the tea rooms rather than animals. Any evidence for that, I asked? No, he said, none at all. Sort of the Dawn Primarollup approach then, though I tended to believe him. His last words were: “why aren’t all the farmers dead?”