Monday, March 27, 2006
I type with tredidation, for as I write, my meerschaum bowl is stuffed with gold-red embers of Walnut Plug. As I breathe, I wheeze. At times, the fug is as a thick as the fog in the London of an elderly American's imagination - a veritable peasouper.
Am I a criminal? I may well be, though I confess that I am as confused as the next woman by the small print of the Scottish Executive's ban on smoking in public places. True, my living room is far from public. It does not welcome visitors. Indeed, the last stranger to step over the draught excluder was the Co-op engineer who had come to fix my television after I complained that it was receiving ITV: a service I had neither requested nor enjoyed.
And yet, the ban includes the cabs of long-distance lorry drivers, who are now under a legal requirement to extinguish their gaspers as they cross the border travelling North, with the result - I predict - that Gretna Green will become more famous for its resemblance to an ashtray than for its matrimonial anvil.
Still, it was exciting to see the Senior Retainer, Mr McConnell, on the national news, even if the lasting memory of his appearance will have been the suspicion that he is a fellow with a peculiarly square head, and the diction of a schoolboy using English as a foreign language.