Friday, 13 November 2020

Well, that was Fun

 Well, that was fun

 Foopba News

The Scotch won a football game yesterday. First one in 22 years, so they weren't expecting to at all, and just watched from behind the sofa. You can imagine how excited they are. This means they will be allowed to play another football game next year. Ah,bless. The Tartan Army celebrated, trailing clouds of Glory and Covid-19 in their triumphalist wake across Europe.

 Nicola was pleased, too, and continues to advise Scots in the sternest possible terms not to travel to England.

Big Tobacco News

Another four lives claimed by Big Tobacco. Of course, every day, people are mown down in order to boost the profits of the tobacco companies. The only product which kills when used exactly as intended by the manufacturers, tobacco is  one of the major causes of death and disease, accounting for  nearly 80,000 deaths a year in the U.K. - 16% of total deaths. We've got used to that, no longer outraged, accepting the legal right of Big Tobacco to sell a deathly, addictive drug, whilst being morally supercilious about other drugs of addiction. 

These four deaths are particularly poignant, however, as the little souls hardly had a chance to live. Aged 8, 6, 4 and 3, they were collatoral damage.

Non-smokers, they died when their home in Stafford was destroyed by a devastating fire in 2019, caused, according to the Coroner's findings, reported yesterday, by a carelessly discarded cigarette. The parents, in a compassionate decision by the CPS, are not to be prosecuted. Imagine the grief and guilt they must have experienced, knowing they were responsible for the deaths of their dear little ones. I should think they've suffered enough. Hounding these parents will not restore their children to life. Hounding Big Tobacco, however, and  making their products illegal, will certainly prevent future premature deaths.


mongoose said...

Footie, eh? A tax on the daft. They'll work themseves into a right lather, so they will. And it will all end in tears before Mcbedtime.

Mike said...

Mrs I: you have genuinely got me there; I don't know whether you are being sarcastic or not re the parents. Without knowledge or context it's hard for me to judge. Are they tattooed slobs on benefits with drug convictions? Or genuine hardworking parents wanting the best for their kids. Either way they shouldn't have been smoking, and were careless to say the least with the discarded fag (am I allowed to say this?). A clearcut case of manslaughter in my view; sympathy doesn't come into it. The judge may err on the side of leniency with sentencing, given the circumstances, assuming he/she is not a wet lettuce. 4 kids FFS; I only had 2 but was aware of the ever present dangers. The CPS have a duty to prosecute if only pour encourager les autres.

mrs ishmael said...

Not sarcastic at all, mr mike. A bit more context- the couple had five children; the eldest being the child of the mother's previous relationship. The baby was the only one to survive - the parents jumped out of an upstairs window with him. All three needed hospital treatment. The other four kiddies died of smoke inhalation. The photo of the five children on the sofa shows that they were all happy, properly dressed, clean and caring for each other. So the parents were doing a lot of things right. They were youngish parents - mum was 24 and dad was 28. They looked nice enough in the press photos - no tattoos. I don't know their employment status. They were initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, but the CPS dropped the charges. Fire Service evidence clearly identified that the couple were smoking in bed - there were the remains of a blue glass ashtray fused into the bedsprings. The parents alleged that a faulty boiler caused the fire but the Coroner dismissed that. I would imagine that compassion had little to do with the CPS decision not to prosecute - it would be difficult to achieve a conviction as both parents denied responsibility - which of them would be charged?
Smoking in bed is unwise, but it is fairly common, still, and used to be obligatory in film and TV depictions of a post coital couple.
Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are all terrifically dangerous, in the longer term - cancer, emphysema, heart disease, arterio-sclerosis etc. In the shorter term, the dangers of handling live flame are preposterous. Especially in an oxygen-rich environment. I've seen photos of an old chap who was smoking in his chair, having temporarily taken off his oxygen mask. He burnt like a candle - all that was left were his legs below the knees, neatly side-by side, still in his shoes - not enough fat in the lower leg to sustain the burn. He was on oxygen because his lungs were compromised by the use of legal tobacco products over a lifetime. They used to issue squaddies with tins of cigarettes in the Second World War. Despite the cost and dangers people continue to smoke, because nicotine is addictive.
My mum was a careless smoker - she set fire to a hillside when we were out blackberry picking one hot, sunny, autumn, and the dry grass went up like tinder. My dad ripped his jacket off and was all over the hillside, beating out the flames with his jacket. I helped - only a very little kid, and my dad yelling at me to stand back. I thought he was going to die on the spot - the flames kept creeping around and breaking out somewhere else, so he'd be chasing from one outbreak to another. He got it out in the end, but his jacket was ruined. Once she was chatting to a neighbour over the garden fence, smoking - I was playing in the long grass at the base of the fence when I realised it was alight, and had spread under the fence to the neighbour's garden. They managed to get it out between them. The window sills and furniture had little burn marks where cigarettes had been propped up, forgotten about and burned away. A really appreciated Christmas present was a carton of cigarettes in a special Christmas wrapper.
Smoking killed both of them in their fifties. Heart and emphysema.
But that was then. Before the terribly dangerous effects of smoking were known. Why is it still legal and easily available? Why isn't it banished into illegal and clandestine use? Or available only on prescription, under strict medical supervision and surveillance? Because of the venality and short-termism of every Government since the Royal College of Physicians produced its first report on tobacco in 1962 and subsequently, which has made it undeniably clear that tobacco smoking is a killer, that smokers suffer from a range of diseases long before their premature deaths, that it is the single greatest cost and burden on the NHS bar none. Not Covid-19. Tobacco. Ban it.
Smoking killed mr ishmael, 15 years after he'd put out his last cigarette.

mongoose said...

I suppose the problem is that once one starts one ends up with rations for chips and chocolate bars. But it is easy for me to say, I only ever bought one packet of fags. 50p for a packet of 555s. I think I managed to smoke about 7 of them.

The parents have suffered enough surely, mr mike. What would be the purpose of a prosecution? The link between stick and the sin is too feeble. Nobody lights up and thinks "Oh, and I must be careful not to incinerate the kids". It is like driving offences. These days it is not what you did that gets you in trouble but the effects of what you did. There are no longer any accidents. All is wickedness. There are no errors, only crimes. One can be handcuffed now and dragged down the station for getting yer mum out of care home. I'd encourage the rest of the buggers by hanging every chief constable in chains from the blue lampo above their steps.

mrs ishmael said...

Brought up in a smoking household, I was fairly well addicted through secondary smoking, which I discovered when I left home for University and went into withdrawal. Bought my first packet of Benson's and never looked back. Stopped smoking for around 7 years during pregnancy and bringing up the little ones, then, when the youngest went to school, I returned to work, sharing an office with a smoker, and that was it, addicted again for the next 15 years until the Allan Carr Easy Way to Stop Smoking Clinic sorted me out. Mr ishmael started when he was about 10, I think, spending his dinner money on single fags bought from the sweetie shop next to the school.
I think there's another facet to this blame culture of ours, mr mongoose. I think it is Richard Dawkins' fault. Now that we no longer believe in a life after death, we are terrified of death, very risk averse in consequence, and want to know who and what to blame in the event of a fatal outcome, so that we can comfort ourselves with the thought that, if I don't do such-and-such a thing, I'll be okay and I can live forever.

mongoose said...

mrs m used to smoke like a proverbial but gave it up one day without a murmur. She had taken to working in a hospital and I think she saw what she saw.

It isn't the business of governments to be getting us to live forever. It's not really even the business of governments to prejudice the life of one set of its citizens so that another may stagger on through another winter. What is currently being done to young people is a wickedness off the scale. Fix the blasted roads, bayonet the EU, drain the education swamp. That's enough to be going on with.

As for phasing out the internal combustion engine in a decade - well, words fail me as to the rampant stupidity of this idea. It's almost as if the entire government has not a single coherent scientific idea in its fat collective head. Perhaps it is possible that Dominic said something similar but yesterday.

Mike said...

I've never smoked, even as a skoolboy, but I do understand the addictive power of nicotine, which is actually a very clever drug. I have, however, fallen asleep on the sofa holding a glass of red wine, so I'm no innocent - at least not in my wife's view.

Regarding the parents, yes I can understand their loss and how they must feel. But what bugs me is the selective application of the law, ever since the CPS came on the scene, and increasingly politicised the law. As I understand it, causing death unintentionally (we assume it was, but that would need to be investigated) is manslaughter. Assuming nothing untoward, its well within the judges power to assign a suspended sentence, or even direct an acquittal. But it would have sent a message to all parents that they have a duty of care, and not just to their own whims.

mrs ishmael said...

Shame about Dominic. He was refreshing, pitted against the old guard, the privileged, empty-headed antediluvianarians. Still, up against the English establishment, he had no chance.

mongoose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mongoose said...

Manslaughter - the one we're on about - used to require a level of reckless negligence well beyond the ordinary, mr mike. I do not know where we stand now but I am against the punishment of error, as a principle. The criminal law is for the wicked. If it was up to me no non-violent offender would ever see a prison cell. But then I am a liberal, to a degree.

Spot on, mrs i. "Not one of us."

There is good news on the horiszon. Somebody has twigged that all of this electricity is going to require generation of the sensible kind.

Please God, let not the green blob hear about it.

Mike said...

Mr mongoose: I'm not a lawyer, but common sense would require the term "reckless negligence well beyond the ordinary" - and I'm not even sure that is the legal threshold - should be determined by a jury in a court based on evidence - which is never black/white which is why "12 good men and true" weigh it based on their experience. For example: were the parents intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time? And to what extent was this negligence, given the circumstances? Only a jury can decide. There are many cases of traffic accidents being prosecuted as manslaughter without other factors present, and I'm sure it is highly unlikely anyone would intentionally cause a road accident. I have nothing against the parents, per se, as I know nothing of the case. My point is regarding the selective application of the law, and the arbitrary interpretations of the CPS, the list is endless. Just because the parents have suffered, and we feel sorry for them, doesn't make them innocent in the eyes of the law. If the law is not being applied it is a bad law and should be scraped.

Mike said...

PS I think smoking and setting the house on fire, causing 4 deaths, would constitute "reckless negligence well beyond the ordinary" - certainly "reckless" and "not ordinary", by definition.

Mike said...

PPS. Final point, then I will shut up. What differentiates manslaughter from murder is that death was not intentional, which I presume was the case here. Obviously, if you didn't intend to do it, then it was an accident. Your honour, I respectfully submit that only a jury looking at the evidence surrounding that event can determine the degree of culpability. But it is not possible to argue the event didn't happen.