Monday, July 02, 2007

Day of Defiance at Bolton on 1/7/09

I attended Freedom to Choose’s second Day of Defiance at The Swan pub, Churchgate, Bolton, Lancashire, UK on 1st July 2007 and what a great event it was. Well, I say what a great event it was, but in fact it’s due to continue until 4 am tomorrow morning (July 2nd).

Nick Hogan, the landlord, reported that on the evening and night of 30th June his establishment was almost completely packed with about 700 attending and following on from a briefing provided earlier in the day for other pub landlords and the press.

To-day’s event commenced at about 12 midday and by about 2 pm the Swan was pleasantly filled with a fluctuating crowd of about 300 people from all over the UK. Freedom to Choose members were drawn from Scotland (quite a few) and Wales with one even turning up from Northern Ireland. English locations represented were: Nottingham, Leicester, Cambridge, Peterborough, Bolton and Manchester.

There were also a lot of non Freedom to Choose members too (and of course) and some had come specially from Manchester and other towns and cities surrounding Bolton to attend the event.

There was a superb traditional jazz band which played throughout most of the afternoon and a particularly colourful performance was given by the Accrington Scottish Pipe Band which was most stirring for the soul.

The press appeared to be there in abundance as well although this writer studiously avoided them preferring instead to leave the task of speaking to them to others more gifted in that department. Some of the “defiers” even wore imaginative rigouts with a cowboy flavour which provided excellent material for press photographs. It was good too to hear people on mobile phones telling their friends to “come on over as everyone is smoking”.

Furthermore, on more than one occasion I heard non-smoking attendees stating: “everyone should have freedom to choose”.
Nick Hogan also reported that his phone had been ringing continuously with messages of support coming in from all over the world including our colleagues from Hawaii.

The police were great and did not interfere, as promised, and the afternoon proceeded in an orderly fashion (no loutish behaviour at all and everyone friendly). However, just in case anyone thinks this means the event was dull would be wrong. It was a good old fashioned type pub event and nothing whatsoever similar to the rather crummy soulless atmospheres of pubs and bars which have been polluted by the policies of antismokerism.

With antismokers in mind, the highlight of the afternoon resulted from the actions of three of them who turned up to try and push their message. One particularly bold woman of uncertain age informed Nick Hogan that she had a right to choose too and that his pub was not, by permitting smoking, allowing her, her choice. Nick explained that despite the fact The Swan is called a “public house” it is, nevertheless, still private property in addition to being his home and that he may choose the conditions that prevail there and, moreover, that she was able to choose whether to enter or not. The antismoker started to become enraged and a little aggressive, in fact she reminded me of an irate turkey with a knitting needle stuck in its bottom. Nick’s response was to give her a practical lesson in what it means to have one’s freedom of choice truly taken away. He physically removed her from his premises and told her she was barred!

I haven’t laughed so much for quite some time…

Bladimir Tolstoy.