As a smoker for years, and a reformed smoker for the last 3799 days 16 hours 23 minutes, I really felt torn when the NI Smoking Ban came into force! On the one hand, I certainly welcome the smoke free atmosphere ‘cos I’m no longer spending the morning after a decent drink coughing and spluttering worse than I did when I was a fully practicing inhaler! On the other hand, I’m finding that many conversations are now being cut short as smoking friends rush to the nearest smoke inhalation point.
What is very disconcerting is the way so many friends hop back on their somewhat rickety barstools after twenty minutes in the “fresh” air and say, “So… you were saying?”
The unexpected side effect of the smoking ban for me is that over the last few weeks I’ve begun to doubt my memory – a source of much male pride in past years(!!) – because I find that all too frequently I haven’t got a clue what we were talking about! The conversation has moved on, a new argument has started, yet another chapter in the “Great Conversations that have Shaped Mankind” has opened…. and my drinking mate has missed the starter for ten!
What I find equally disconcerting is the way conversations begun over a quick drag are sprung onto the bar company as if we have all heard the start of the piece. Things like … “Aye… he should have scored. What do you think?” …. are truly, truly dangerous questions to answer when one mate supports Manchester United and the other Chelsea and, for years, you’ve been sitting on the fence between them.
So.. what do you think? I can’t help feeling we’ve split the renowned pub “craic” into pieces. Where is the real craic now that the smoking ban is upon us? In the bar or in street outside?