He talks a lot of wind

All joking aside, I'm beginning to think that I really must be in league with the devil. Try this one on for size (apologies in advance, it's a bit convoluted, so I've split it into bullet points—bear with me on this one):

  • I live in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire;
  • I am not a smoker, but I am a strong advocate of smokers' rights. I think they've been persecuted quite enough. Stopping them smoking at work was all well and good, but now the Health Nazis want to stop them smoking in all public places—even when the owners of those public places want to accomodate smokers. As far as smoking in pubs is concerned, I positively welcome it: it's traditional, it adds to the atmosphere (both literally and metaphorically), and it discourages thick-skinned parents from bringing their brats into the bar;
  • quite a few of my friends are smokers. Last year, for a bit of fun, I sent one of them, Ann, a set of amusing pro-smoking sticky labels I had made to stick over the legally mandated anti-smoking propaganda on cigarette packs. They were well received by everyone who saw them;
  • one of my stickers said Non-Smokers Die Too, You Know. This has become a favourite quote of mine and Jen's when winding up anti-smokers;
  • the best band on Planet Earth is The Fall;
  • despite being a total tosser at times, The Fall's frontman, Mark E Smith, is a British institution. He should also probably be in one. His lyrics are often totally incomprehensible;
  • The Fall recorded 24 live sessions for the late, greatly lamented John Peel. They were his favourite band. He once described them as "a band by which, in our house, all others are judged". Mine too;
  • earlier this year, The Fall released their entire Peel Sessions in a magnificent, six-volume boxed set. In my opinion, the track Blindness from their final Peel Session was The Fall's finest moment in a very large number of very fine moments;
  • this week, The Fall released their 25th studio album, Fall Heads Roll. It is very good. It contains a new recording of Blindness (not quite as good as the Peel Session version), with many of the original lyrics changed;
  • yesterday, full of anticipation, I slipped Fall Heads Roll into my car's CD player on the way into work. Blindness was track 7. Three minutes and fifty-eight seconds into it, I nearly crashed the car when I heard the following lyrics wafting out of my speakers (brace yourself, this is going to do your head in):

…And, from Hebden Bridge,
Somebody said to me,
"I can't understand a word you say."
He said, "99% of non-smokes die"…

So there you have it: I must be in league with the devil, because my favourite song-writer has made reference to me in a re-worded version of my favourite Fall song—even though he probably doesn't even realise it.

Well, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

See also: Fall Heads Roll (photo)

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. Just out of interest: what are your views on non-smokers rights? I'm planning on having a t-shirt printed with SMOKING KILLS, SO HURRY UP & FUCKING DIE printed on it. From an ex-smoker (37 years, man & boy) referred to by my wife as 'poacher turned gamekeeper' (apparently smoking kills more northerners than southerners, so it isn't all bad news).

  2. Why is it that when somebody blows smoke in my personal space, I have to put up with it, and yet, when because of this, I cough in theirs, I'm frowned upon like some whining softie? Perhaps they should suck on my exhaust pipe & get it over with a lot sooner!

  3. My view on non-smokers' rights is that they have the right to go and moan elsewhere.

    If we banned everything that was dangerous, we would live in a very dull (and unworkable) world. I just wish that people would try to be a bit more tolerant about how other people choose to enjoy themselves. Smokers are the last minority that it is politically acceptable to persecute (with the possible exception of northerners, judging by your comments). If you really can't tolerate their smoke (which I doubt), you can always move away, rather than trying to impose your intolerance on other people.

    I'm not saying that people should be allowed to smoke anywhere they like; I'm just saying that they shouldn't be banned from smoking in all public places. Personally speaking, I'd love it if nobody practiced religion, but I would vehemently defend anyone's right to do so. We can't all agree on everything. Having said that, I'm a complete hypocrite, because I was as pleased as punch when they banned foxhunting. Everyone has the right to be inconsistent.

    Reformed smokers are, in my view, the worst: they are the non-smoking equivalent of born-again Christians. Stop evangelising and worry about stuff that's important (like the fact that I seem to be in league with the devil).

  4. It is my considered opinion that people who cough in the presence of smokers are putting it on. That makes them whiners in my book, but not necessarily softies.

  5. Oh spare me the lecture. The one thing you have in common with politicians, religious nutcases & other neanderthals is that you are never fucking wrong. Shame that!

  6. Selfish, suicidal smokers aside, as to your comment about being in league with the devil:
    you must be careful not to fall into the trap laid by all religious groups:- firstly they convince you that there IS a devil & then they go about saving you from him. A manufactured supply & demand on a par with McDonald's. Hey! maybe Ronald McDonald is the horn-ed one after all. But which ever way you look at it, you don't have to look through the bullshit to find out what the bull ate! (D.Vliet 1969)

  7. I seem to remember someone using a similar tactic by inventing some Iranian Iraqi [oops! thanks, namesake (see below)] weapons of mass destruction and then saving us from them. Weren't they a religious nutter too?

    I had not heard the Beefheart quote, which is now going into my arsenal.

  8. Dear Mr Gruts do you have the power to see into the future....surely it was the Iraqi WMD's....we're not due to be fed the Iranian WMD argument for another 18 mths. MSG for Night Owl...yes it's me no capitals carter. I did it so as not to be confused with Gruts but now I see that he uses orange dashes. Although I admit, it is very vain of me to think that I could be confused with someone so wise as Gruts. But from now on perhaps I'LL USE CAPITALS ALL THE TIME. FURTHERMORE I AM DEFINATELY NOT THE GEORGE M VERSION OF MR R CARTER............IF I WERE ON S I Y E'S I WOULD BE SAYING.........TONIGHT MATTHEW I'M GOING TO BE.......SALMA HAYEK'S LIVE IN LOVER

  9. My favourite Beefheart quote is 'a little paranoia is a mood propeller' he was absolutely right too.

  10. They're lining up for the main event! or even 'I'll be long long gone to Hong Kong Kong'

  11. I suppose the ultimate Beefheart quote has to be 'I'm not a captain any more, hell, I don't even have a boat!' (or something like that)

  12. Perhaps they should withdraw all the cancer treatment drugs so that we could all live more dangerous & less boring lives, in line with your way of thinking. We could even stop having our cars serviced, just to make driving a little more dangerous & exciting.... It doesn't work, does it?

  13. My anonymous commentator, whom, for the sake of argument, I shall refer to as Kevin, is clearly incapable of making a rational argument. I have, therefore, struck a line through his silly comment—the sense of power is almost frightening.

    This reminds me of a very long and tedious correspondence I had with a religious fundamentalist several years ago. He was a great one with the non sequiturs too.

    Fuck off, Kevin, you're an idiot and (far worse) a bore.

  14. I have been following your badinage with the interesting 'Kevin'. It strikes me that you are the yin & yan of intillectual debate. I see you as both presenting as guilty of being pig-headed extremists, wrapped up in your own blinkered existance. It's a shame really as (not unlike Hitler) you have some very interesting ideas, but are not progressing in the direction of logic.
    I have just spent the last two hours with the police, listening to a schizophrenic lady spouting a continual flow of ideas of reference & conspiracy theory involving Tony Blair. I kept thinking 'what would Richard Gruts have to say about this lady?' Perhaps she's just behavioural.
    I think I need a rest!

  15. I don't see how being a non-smoker who is happy to let smokers enjoy their vice without lecturing them classifies me as a pig-headed extremist, but, if it does, I gladly accept the label. Besides, I'm rather fond of pigs.

    As to your schizophrenic lady, in all honesty, I would probably just humour her—although I suspect that's probably the worst thing I could do. I used to take a similar approach with religious fundamentalists: pretend I accepted the validity of everything they said, then gradually lead them into a logical contradiction of their own ideas, after which I would act as if I felt very confused and stupid. They rarely sussed what I was up to.

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