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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004
    Lighting-up time
    Today seems like a good time to decide, for the first time in my life, to take up smoking. This, I believe, would be a generous action because of its value to the mental environment: standing (shivering, I imagine) in solidarity with those banished into backrooms or out-of-doors by fussy others; engaging in conversations like today's in the fuggy, friendly back kitchen of a bereaved family, after saying prayers around the deceased - witty, informed, speculative, earthy, deep conversations about some of the fundamentals in life (and death).

    And taking up smoking would be an ideal way to provoke conversations about society's biggest smokers whose excesses are seldom questioned: while local and national policymakers busy themselves with making Liverpool's doorways and entertainment houses smoke-free, they quite happily permit Sonae to continue belching out toxic fumes on the city's fringe at Kirkby. Ignoring the well-founded, well-researched and well-expressed concerns of suffering locals.

    These are the days of small government - petty, puerile government. While the people of Kirkby live beneath 'blackouts' where Sonae's so-called 'steam' turns dark grey above them, for me two miles upwind, lighting-up time beckons.