In October, 1999, I wrote the following piece for a Mensa® publication – word for WORD, it went:My predictions For The New Millennium Are… (1) Pamela Anderson will become the first woman President of the United States of America. (2) Taiwan will become a World Power. (3) Richard Branson will become the first man to set foot on Mars – and will then run tourist trips there. (4) Patrick Moore will host the Centenary Edition of ‘The Sky At Night’. (5) Sir Clive Sinclair will invent an A.I. computer which will successfully execute a hostile takeover of his own company. (6) A law will be passed making it illegal to smoke whilst driving. (7) Chris Evans will buy the Millennium Dome and turn it into a disco. (8) Prince William will marry Barbara Windsor – who will become Barbara Windsor – but commit adultery with Emma Bunton. (9) Global Warming will cause the oceans to rise to the point where Watford will become Hertfordshire’s premier coastal resort. (10) At least three of the above will ACTUALLY HAPPEN.
So where are we, eleven years on?
Well, Old Ma Clinton NEARLY made it to P.O.T.U.S. CHINA now dominates the World. And Branson IS about to start tourist trips into low Earth Orbit.
But it’s number SIX I want to discuss…
It occurred to me, back in the dying months of the Second Millennium, that Health & Safety-obsessed British bureaucrats might just realize that lighting a fag (or dropping it in your lap) whilst driving – is at least as distractive as using a mobile phone.
Thus to have included that activity, would have made some sense. However, the truth is just absurd.
In Britain, smoking was banned “in The Workplace” and obtusely, company cars were classed as extensions of The Workplace. Even if – as is usually the case – one’s workmates never rode in it.
And company cars are often FORCED upon employees – who now have to PAY for them, through the nose. Of course, they are yet another way – along with “private” (commercial) healthcare plans, pensions, dental, etc. – of keeping your employees under your THUMB.
So these days, it is possible for Police to see a man smoking while driving – run an I.D. on his vehicle – discover it is owned by a company – then pull him over and as he winds his window down, sniff and say, “Good afternoon, SIR – have we been SMOKING?”
(As opposed to the traditional DRINKING).
Naturally, it has nothing to do with health OR safety – as with most anti-smoking regulations, it is about MONEY. Today, companies buy or lease cars for short periods (3-12 months) and they are then sold off as Almost New.
And their value is LESS, when – as with offices and aeroplane cabins – the PLASTIC surfaces with which they are COVERED become SMOKED. No amount of “valeting” will remove all traces.
Thus, Big Business was DELIGHTED when Parliament passed this stupid law – which was hardly surprising, given they are one and the SAME.
So now, in addition to dealing with “money-boxes” (speed cameras) traffic “calming” measures and a myriad other abhorrences, whilst enduring their daily two-hour forced SLOG to and from work, in their company cars – the millions of those who are tobacco ADDICTS cannot even SMOKE in them.
Thank GAWD I’m retired.
Footnote: I know that word was distractING – but “distractive” OUGHT to be a word. Maybe next year, Sarah Palin will MAKE it one.