Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sat 9 July

On 1st July, Belgium extended its smoking ban to cover all bars, restaurants, cafés and clubs, irrespective of whether they served food or not. Obviously, I'm delighted. If I became dictator for the day (which is very possible), I'd ban smoking pretty much everywhere, especially where restaurants have an outdoors. You'd be hard pushed to find a public space where you could light up in my kingdom.

The wife and I decided to celebrate this by going back to the Cuban-themed bar, "Q Bar," we'd been to several months ago. How we felt smug and self-satisfied as smoker after smoker had to get up and leave his/her chair and traipse outside for a fag, returning looking shivvery and a little put out. You'd never guess it was July at the moment.

And then, two guys sitting by a table near us started smoking. So there we were, incredulous, making all sorts of disapproving noises. To ourselves of course. We muttered and cursed. Under our breath. We then did all we could to attract the attention of the barmen. Not by actually signalling for them, but by continually staring at them, and then staring at the two guys, hoping that they'd follow our eyes and work out what the hell we were doing.

We even ordered another round of drinks, and again in doing so, turned to face the guys. Another barmen even took their empty bottles away and returned with new drinks. And did nothing. Didn't say a word to them.

It's here that you're confronted with that most modern day dilemma: "should I say something?" You weigh up the pros and cons. For a scenario like this, do they look tough? And will they smack me in the gob if I say something? One of them was slightly mean-looking. He even had a tattoo! That settled in then. I chose to keep it schtum.

But, on leaving, C felt as if she had to say something, and so to one of the barmen she sarcastically said: "smoking's still allowed then?!!" Barman: "No." C: "but those two guys are smoking." Barman: "I know."

And that was that. I'm telling you, this place is anarchic.

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