I promised to note a few observations on the first couple of days of the smoking ban in Scotland and had the perfect opportunity with a stop-over in Edinburgh on Monday night to be up in time for a meeting there this morning: saves all the grief of trying to get through two cities’ rush hours and travel 140 miles all before breakfast.
I arrived in Auld Reekie too late for a meal at the hotel where I had been billeted and was referred to a local Indian restaurant for something to eat. Suited me; it’s a rare chance these days to get a meal in an Indian restaurant so off I toddled. Turned out to be a very nice small place near the Haymarket, called the Verandah – worth looking out if you’re in that area. Just one other couple in when I arrived. Enjoyed my food and then the owner came over and started chatting. We talked for ages, about the smoking ban (a good thing), over-zealous food inspectors (a bad thing), being a kid in the current decadent age (a tricky thing) and being a parent of teenagers (a worrying thing). This chap turned out to be very interesting to talk to. He welcomed the smoking ban and had already made his restaurant non-smoking some time ago.
I’d stuck my nose into a few pubs as well and most landlords were pretty philosophical about the whole business. Some were concerned that business would wane and others were concerned about how people would cope being able to smell each other – this is becoming a serious topic of concern and one pub I passed had put tea-lights (small candles) on the tables to counter the odour of their customers! Incidentally, one person I spoke to who had been to Oireland recounted that the well-known gastric consequences of Guinness were now unmasked in the bars and that there was something to be said for the reek of Major cigarette smoke after all.
It’s interesting to note that, with all the concentration on pubs and clubs over the preceding weeks and months, that nearly every other premises to which the ban applies has yet to get its signs sorted out – Boots the chemist, MacDonalds the processed meat people and a few bus shelters were the exception to the rule – mind you, one of the bus shelters in central Edinburgh had already had the no-smoking sign prised off and it lay face-down in the street-litter, so some folk are expressing a rebellious spirit in amongst all of this.
The general consensus seems to be that things will settle down and it’s notable that nearly every pub you pass of an evening has a couple of smokers lurking out on the street partaking of their habit.