We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Bring out your dead

Of course, you do realise that in 20 years or so, everybody will be smoking again:

WHEN the musical Grease opens in London’s West End this summer, and the teenage sweetheart Sandy draws on a symbolic cigarette, warning notices will be in place around the theatre alerting the audience to the danger she poses.

And that’s for a symbolic cigarette! Imagine the danger she would pose if she blazed up a real one?

The West End theatres fought successfully to win an exemption for actors from the ban on smoking in public places, which becomes law on July 1. But some are now concerned that onstage smoking may draw complaints from the audience.

They should put up a warning sign which says:”Anyone who complains about smoking on stage will have the snot beaten out of them”.

But whatever signs are erected will be temporary. When things get this deliriously insane, it means that the war on smoking is quite obviously and hopelessly lost.

28 comments to Bring out your dead

  • RAB

    Well I bally well dont think it goes far enough!
    They’re missing a trick here for a spot of audience participation!
    At the point at which the Sandy creature powers up her first gasper,
    they should have a couple of chappies come on from each wing holding placards
    One saying “A vile crime against humanity is about to be committed !!”
    The other “Boo Now!!”
    Jolly good wheeze!

  • WalterBoswell

    Who’s the producer of this play, Patricia Hewitt?

    I mean seriously, who isn’t aware of the dangers of smoking in this day and age. What merits this level of cautiousness and patronising and why isn’t there a greater public outcry, are people all okey dokey now with being treated like so many forgetful and irresponsible children. God almighty just send the meteors and be done with it.

  • WalterBoswell

    You know what would funny, if the warning signs informing the audience of the incoming toxins cause mass front row panic and someone gets crushed to death in the stampede (preferably a non-smoker). And by funny of course I mean sad, and by sad of course I actually mean hilarious.

    Look at me I’m Sandra Dee, causing front row death hilarity.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    Merely because there are people who are overreacting beyond all reason to smoking doesn’t mean that smoking is a good idea — I doubt “everyone will be smoking again in 20 years”. Pretty much everywhere that smoking declines, so do lung cancer rates. Merely because annoying people dislike smoking one should not conclude that smoking is good.

    One should focus on the real problem here. The issue is not whether smoking is a good idea — it is clearly a stupid idea. The issue is whether we need a nanny state to tell people how to live or not, and clearly we don’t. Even if people do unsafe things, that is their privilege, and it is not up to others to tell them how to live their lives. What I hope blows over is not a societal distaste for smoking, but rather the societal acceptance of minding other people’s business.

  • Paul Marks

    And then the high powered politicians, lawyers and media people (much the same people these days) go off and snort cocaine.

    Still I will be having a cup of tea soon – my own “drug of choice”.

    I suppose the idea is that if we do not use X, Y, or Z we will live for ever (or at least have eternal youth).

    In reality we decay (grow old) and die whatever we do.

  • guy herbert

    It is going to be interesting that effect. ‘Cos all the entrances to the theatre will have to bear a statutory sign at least A5 in size, with the “international no smoking symbol” on it at least 70mm in diameter, and a statement that ot is against the law to smoke on the premises.

    Some in the audience might be prompted to attempt a citizen’s arrest.

  • One should focus on the real problem here. The issue is not whether smoking is a good idea — it is clearly a stupid idea. The issue is whether we need a nanny state to tell people how to live or not, and clearly we don’t.

    Well, right, that’s the main point, and I think everyone posting here agrees with you. Notwithstanding, a lot of us also harbor suspicions that the medical case against smoking has probably been overstated in the cause of having it banned. That isn’t to say we think smoking is healthy, just that we think it’s probably a bit less dangerous than commonly asserted.

    And in fact, if you check the statistics, a lot of the widely-quoted studies on smoking are only significant to p=0.1 rather than the usual p=0.05 – i.e. 90% accurate rather than 95%. What this means isn’t so much that the widely-quoted studies are unreliable, but that there is a greater deal of individual variation in them than the reporting on them would have you believe.

    The overall point being: smoking is in general a bad idea, but, depending on poorly-understood facts of your genetic makeup and other eating/sleeping/drinking/exercising habits, smoking may be something you should run screaming from, or may be something you can do with virtual impunity. Health-conscious people will still want to avoid it for this reason, but, as you say, that should be their choice and not the government’s.

    In any event, I think there is a case to be made for more accurate reporting on the medical facts about smoking, and things may well turn out such that in 20 years we’ve all decided that the health risks from smoking were overstated and will have gone back to doing it regularly.

    In particular, the health risks from second-hand smoke are probably overstated – so a possible future here would be one where people understand better whether smoking is likey to be a problem for them, and the rest of us just don’t care if they smoke in our presence because second-hand smoke will have turned out to be much less harmful than currently suspected.

  • I think it might be worth staging the following play:

    Set in a pub in 2005.

    Actors, some who are smoking, some who are drinking and some doing both, stand behind the bar and act as bar staff.

    Extensive inpropmtu audience paticipation in the play, thus the audience are free to smoke and drink in character. Curtain rises 18:00, falls 23:30. No interval.

  • lucklucky

    “When things get this deliriously insane, it means that the war on smoking is quite obviously and hopelessly lost.”

    I have already saw many insane things going for years that i’ll not be so sure.

  • J

    Since we are following New York’s lead in banning smoking, I suppose we will be banning music next:


  • dearieme

    The bastards are moving on to drinkies. Pregnant women should not sit within 10 feet of a glass of wine, or the like. It’s time to start hanging Puritans. In Public. After bears have had their fun with them.

  • Dearime, Dearime.
    Do you really suppose any self-respecting bear would go near one of these scum-sucking, no good, Pencil-Neck Geeks?
    They’re a one-man losing streak!

  • Sunfish

    News like this makes me want to go buy a pack, even though I quit 3-4 years ago. (And managed to do it without Patricia Hewitt, fancy that.)

    Or better yet, a massive freaking cigar, made from tobacco irrigated in the tears of cruelly-exploited Honduran children and lit with the grassfires of global warning, enjoyed concurrently with a glass of an ethanol-containing beverage made by the apparent only capitalists left in Scotland, while reclining in a hammock made from baby harp seal skin.

    TimC: You may have just single-handedly brought back live theater.

  • Nick M

    Looking for extras?

    I don’t think anyone has done it with Patricia Hewitt for a very long time. But it is good of an American to remember our beloved Secretary of State for Health to us. Just don’t do it so early on a bank holiday in future.

  • Julian Taylor

    The obvious answer to the smoking ban is a re-introduction of open air theatre, where you can smoke as heavily as you want and there is nothing the state can do about it (yet).

  • I very much dislike smoking, but these people have obviously lost all sense of proportion.

  • Winger

    I hope this doesn’t mean a staging of “West Side Story” is out of the question.

    “When you’re a Jet…”

  • watcher in the dark

    I eagerly await the re-editing of films, to remove any scene (or sequences) where a character smokes.

    Some movies will be much shorter, of course, and the plots ruined but the audience will be protected from the idea of smoking. People who, watching Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, might well want to rush out to the wild west, don an iron plate under their vest and start blazing away with a six-gun while chewing a cheroot.

  • Re-editing of films?
    You should see what they do to ‘Airplane’ nearly every time it’s on TV; no subtitles for ‘Jivetalking’ guys, as that would imply linguistic inferiority; cut the scene where the re-inflated auto-pilot is smiling, that might imply that oral sex is enjoyable.

    Of course, I only know these things because I saw the original when it first came out.
    Tell me…. what does it say on pig-Napoleon’s wall today?

  • lucklucky


    “Dozens of climate scientists are trying to block the DVD release of a controversial Channel 4 programme that claimed global warming is nothing to do with human greenhouse gas emissions.
    Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, and Bob May, former president of the Royal Society, are among 37 experts who have called for the DVD to be heavily edited or removed from sale. The film, the Great Global Warming Swindle, was first shown on March 8, and was criticised by scientists as distorted and misleading.”….

    This is the political power of “science”. Eugenism, Lysenkism, Global Warming…

  • Stu

    Sounds like it’s time for some ‘Rocky Horror’ style audience participation; when someone lights up on stage, every smoker in the audience should fire one up as well!

  • Sunfish – I hope so.

    Nick M – certainly!

    Stupid laws like this demand that they are torn apart using their own stupidity.

    BTW I hate cigarette smoke, but pubs are pubs and if they are too smokey I go elsewhere. My choice.

  • Brad

    The Bad Things in Grease –

    1) Pre-marital sex.
    2) Teen sex.
    3) Underage drinking.
    4) Glorifying gangs.
    5) Drag racing.
    6) Smoking.
    7) Impossibly thin body types (at least for Olivia in the movie).
    8) Making fun of fat people.
    9) Skipping class.
    10) Defying authority.
    11) Bullying.

    And it’s just smoking that gets a bad rap?

    If you took out everything anyone might object to, causing massive curvature of spines, blindness, hairy palms, green livers, and pregnant teens, you’d have about three minutes and some change.

    In this age of youtube and editing software, someone should create a PC version (of the movie anyway). I don’t think you’d go over whatever time limit per post that they have. It would be pretty much Beauty School Dropout and Sandy slapping Danny at the drive in.

    I should give it a try….

  • Kim du Toit

    When things get this deliriously insane, it means that the war on smoking is quite obviously and hopelessly lost.

    A fine sentiment, but never underestimate the power of government to go batshit crazy When It’s For Your Own Good.

    Example: when Massachusetts passed a law demanding that all stored guns have a trigger lock in place, the government jobsworths added a trigger lock to an 18th-century musket, hanging 18 feet above the ground, in the state capitol.

  • What about Calorific Poisoning?

  • TimC: I’m not a smoker, but I’d definitely come to see your suggested play 🙂

    Things get even weirder (if that were possible) where smoking and cars are concerned; see my posting on the subject at http://blogs.sun.com/davew/entry/gov_uk_goes_mad_again .

  • Nick M

    Doesn’t Grease also include abortion?

    But then the Sound of Music has Nazis and Joseph is clearly a glorification of Zionism.

  • Winger

    The one clause/amendment/understanding/whatever that seems to be missing from the constitutions, etc of all countries with law making bodies seems to be a definition of the time/place in space when all sensible laws have been passed and no more are required. That clause would then call for the end to silliness.

    The US and now the UK seem to have passed that point.

    Grease doesn’t have abortion, just a “false alar(u)m”.

    TimC: Brilliant idea for your Improvisational Play “Waiting For Winston”.

    I would have said said “Waiting for Marlborough/Marlboro”, etc but didn’t want to reopen that.

    I quit smoking in ’97 but until it was banned here, enjoyed going down to my local to “inhale the atmosphere”.

    As I get older, I notice that I’m starting to resent those who want to regulate every facet of my life. I remember that on election day too.