Following on from previous policies to reduce the visibility and attractiveness of smoking – first moving cigarettes out of sight in shops, and then making all packaging plain and homogenous – the Government is now going one step further and has announced that, from now on, –
– ALL CIGARETTES MUST BE INVISIBLE.
This will have the advantage of making all smokers look like mime-artists which should discourage teenagers from thinking it’s cool and taking up the habit.
Also, the increased difficulty in lighting a cigarette in the first place may cause some people to just not bother any more.
“Sure, I know how to whistle … but how do we light this?”
No Smoke Without … Burning Flesh
The Government admitted that there will be an initial cost to be paid, both physically and financially, due to smokers burning themselves in their attempts to light cigarettes which they can’t see. However, it is hoped that the pain and frustration will cause many smokers to give up – especially when they discover they’ve lit the wrong end of a cigarette for the thousandth time.
A Government spokesman said, “We have always been in favour of transparency in our policies – and you can’t get more transparent than invisible. We are very keen to see smoking not-being-seen … because that’ll make it much easier for us to ignore the problem instead of having to really do something about it.”
Original images (edited by Ripley trout): smoking fingers via ibtimes.co.uk; hand-lighter by My Huy Streetphotography via scopeblog.stanford.edu; Miley Cyrus by Reuters/Remko De Waal via businessinsider.com; Bogart & Bacall from ‘To Have and Have Not’; glove-blonde from corkstopsmokingclinic.com; Bogart and Mayo Methot by Siver Screen Oasis via fanpop.com
The Importance of Spongebumbles
“Why Women Are Bullying The Meek Out of their Inheritance”
with reference to Kim Kardashian, Charles Dickens, Tamara Ecclestone, and Bob-the-Builder.
Welcome to my new educational reality-tv show, “Learning Through the Lives of Celebrities and Rich People”. Episode 1: Statistics, Literature, and Spongebumbles.
100% of Kim Kardashian’s previous two marriages have failed. 100% of her mother’s two marriages have failed. So you’d think she would pick a name for her baby that will still work if she and the child ever end up reverting to her maiden name. ‘North Kardashian’ isn’t bad, but it does sound like the name of an American street-corner – which is a bit of a comedown from ‘North West’ which is a whole geographic area.
With more couples choosing not to get married or, at least, not marrying until after a child is born to them, the decision about a child’s surname is becoming a bigger issue. And with divorce rates of about one-in-two in both Britain and America, pregnant women are querying the wisdom of giving a child the father’s surname, especially when the mother herself does not (at least, not yet) have that same surname.
Names colour our perceptions of people, particularly of those we know little else about (tell me you didn’t think Benedict Cumberbatch must be posh when you first heard his name), which is why Charles Dickens popped into my mind while I was having a schadenfreud-ish chuckle to myself at Tamara Ecclestone bemoaning the lot of being incredibly rich.
“There’s a vicious attitude towards anyone who has inherited anything”, she said. She’s probably right but, if she’s smart enough to discern it, then she should also be smart enough to know that she’ll elicit little sympathy by pointing it out. Miss Ecclestone is also done no favours by the fact that her name is reminiscent of a character out of a Dickens’ story, one about people whose names make you think of buffoonish waddling puffing posh fatties – like Cumberbatch indeed, or Spongebumbles.
So anyway Tamara was doing the whole “Woe-is-me,-daughter-and-heir-to-Formula-1-billionaire-Bernie-Ecclestone”-bit and I thought to myself that it’d be interesting to see how she’d feel about being spared the drawbacks of inherited wealth if she happened to have a brother and if Bernie was tempted to act in the old-fashioned manner of handing on succession – and the bulk of the wealth – to the firstborn son.
It may be an old-fashioned notion but this is not an outdated issue. And don’t think it only applies to old farmers eeking a paltry and indivisible living out of a rocky outcrop on some Hebridean clifftop. In England, Mrs Susan Shield is divorcing her husband, Richard – an engineering tycoon with a €50million fortune – in an attempt to prevent him from cutting her and their three daughters out of succession in favour of the only son. After 43 years of marriage the family is now split along the gender-line with the pater-familias being accused of being mentally incapable of making decisions. Money may not buy happiness but it certainly pays for costly and dramatic court cases.
It has long been mooted that the meek will inherit the earth. A half-day in any family-law court would suggest that this will only happen in the unlikely scenario that the meek have absolutely no relatives who aren’t themselves meek. And even if they didn’t, they’d probably just be easily bullied out of their fortune by non-meek total strangers anyway. So, one way or another, the meek are not going to end up with the human-family jewels. And they’re probably just as happy about that since they’d have a hard time coping with the vicious attitude of people that Miss Ecclestone was so generously warning them about. But what I realised, as I thought of Tamara’s words, was that the real reason that the meek won’t inherit the world … is because women will.
(I’m not saying this because I’ve just heard some Beyonce song on the radio and now have some vague but unstoppable urge to fistpump the air while shaking my righteous ‘boot-eh’ and shouting “Girl-power”. Being a skinny white Irish bloke, I think we’re all safe from that – if only because of the implied need for co-ordination and a sense of rhythm.)
Tamara and her sister will probably inherit their Dad’s tremendous wealth because they are his children. (I’m ignoring, for the sake of simplicity, the notion of Bernie dispensing largesse to others through his will). Even if they had a brother, we would expect them all, in our modern society, to inherit an equal amount, regardless of gender or age.
And so there is no longer any financial advantage to being the firstborn son – or indeed being male at all. The only advantage to having a son rather than a daughter would appear to be that old chestnut of ‘keeping the family name alive’ since, in the absence of male children, if the daughters marry and take their husbands’ names, then the family name is lost – at least to this branch of the family tree.
But … since more and more women are not taking the name of their husband but rather retaining their ‘maiden’ name, it is now only the female who can GUARANTEE the passing-on of the family name. A couple must AGREE for the child to be given the father’s surname but a woman can INSIST on it being hers. A woman can have a child either without getting married or just without taking the name of her husband and that child can then carry on her name rather than the father’s. And if both the parents just happen to be the end of their family lines, then it is the father’s family-name which will die out.
And a recent court case gave further cause for rich women to consider not getting married at all. Miss Victoria Luckwell has reverted to her wonderfully ironical maiden name (Dickens would have approved) after a court awarded £1.2million pounds to her ex-husband despite him having signed a pre-nup – and several updated versions thereof – declaring that he would never, in the event of divorce, come looking for any money from Victoria’s family fortune (largely derived from the creation of the Bob-the-Builder tv series by her father’s company). With a sense of outrage and indignation that can possibly only be summoned by someone who has hardly worked a day in their life but who has inherited great wealth and has the prospect of even greater wealth to come, Miss Luckwell seethed outside the courthouse after the judgement. Having cattily disparaged the man who was once the love-of-her-life as a lifelong money-grabbing scam-artist (“He liked rich girls; he used to date Stella McCartney.”), she went on to speak up for the capitalist branch of the feminist movement by declaring: “Sadly I am left to conclude that there is a strong financial disincentive for a wealthy woman to marry if she cannot be assured of protecting her family’s assets”.
Despite the fact that her attitude would seem sexist and misogynistic if the gender-roles were reversed, her conclusion may well strike a chord with women who stand to inherit wealth (the Misses Ecclestone might be sympathetic to Miss Luckwell’s plight). And perhaps the perceived ineffectiveness of an existing pre-nup will have an effect on women who have amassed wealth through their own work, and they might choose not to marry.
And if rich, successful, independent women start doing it, then other women will follow the example of these role-models (while possibly shaking ‘boot-eh’ and singing old Destiny’s Child anthems) and it will become a societal norm. And by extension, through proportional statistics if nothing else, it will become more common for women to retain their maiden name throughout their life. So it will become more common too for women to pass their own family name on to their children rather than giving them the father’s name. Or at least the choice to do so will lie more deliberately within the woman’s grace. And so it is the female who will become the determinant of the family line. The pre-eminence of the male child is gone. Any daughter now has more importance. The family-name will come to be passed down through the female side.
Even if that name is Spongebumble.
Sometimes the Authorities warn us of a potentially dangerous situation without telling us what to do about it. When confronted with a sign alerting you to immediate peril, it can be hard to think clearly and quickly. So as you won’t have the same problems, here are my ideas on two road-signs which left me unsure as to how to react.
There is a pregnant woman lying in the middle of the road up ahead.
Please slow down enough as you drive around her to ascertain if she is:
(a) just tired from being pregnant and having a bit of a lie-down for a minute;
(b) actively in labour;
(c) off her face on booze and pills and convinced that she is flying through the Milky Way on the back of a golden unicorn named Dobbin.
Then just carry on your way again but with a vague niggle at the back of your conscience that maybe you should have done something.
If you can’t handle the guilt, reverse back to where she is and run her over so that she doesn’t give birth to a crack-baby that’s gonna mug you some day in the future and make you wish hadn’t let her carry her pregnancy to full term. It may seem harsh but, in fairness, remember that this only applies in case (c).
Several pregnant women are lying down in the road up ahead.
Either (a) there is a Lamaze class in progress,
or (b) a group of pregnant junkies are all on the nod together with no idea that they’re in danger of being run over.
In either case, you’re well advised to turn around and find an alternate route.
Yes, if it’s case (b), their junkie offspring – or indeed their drug-addled selves – may end up mugging you at some stage in the future, but you’re unlikely to have more than a hundred quid on you and you can always cancel your cards. Whereas, if their syringes or broken crack-vials puncture all your tyres, that’s going to set you back considerably more money in the short-term and waste up to a half a day on you. You’d have to be seriously unlucky to be mugged enough times by the junkies and their offspring to make it financially more viable to take the risk of running them over.
But this is just my advice. It’s your call, it’s your money after all. The Authorities are just warning you. It’s not a proscriptive nanny-state telling you what to do. If it was, they wouldn’t allow Lamaze classes to be held in the middle of the road, would they?
Maybe if you’re poor you can become anything you want to be – astronaut, president, footballer, prostitute, crack-addict, – possibly even all of the aforementioned at the same time. Poverty will not deny any of those opportunities to you. It might even help. Basically the world’s your lobster.
But if you’re rich, there are just some things that you will never be allowed to be. And one of those things is …
… A PROTEST-SINGER.
A protest-singer must tell the truth of their life even if people don’t want to hear it. Apparently that’s all fine and dandy if you’re a poor person singing about the iniquity of society. But if you’re telling the truth from the other side of the fence then no-one wants to know about it.
( Admittedly the fence is electrified, with a moat beyond it, which puts a bit of distance between the singer and the common man audience).
Oh no, instead of supportive shouts of “You the man”, it’s accusations of “You’re The Man”. And apparently The Man should not have a voice, or at least should not use that voice to complain about troublesome aspects of his life (taxes on second properties, animal-rights campaigners getting in the way of fox-hunts, the difficulty of finding a good footman nowadays).
But consider this: – if Woody Guthrie was alive today he’d be a rich man!
… Not just because of the money he’d be earning from the royalties on his songs, but because it’s really the only rebellious confrontational position to take in modern liberal western society. Yes, Woody would choose to be wealthy.
So if you’re rich, sing it loud and sing it proud (and if you’re poor, you can just hum along in solidarity while acknowledging the undeniable truth of the lyrics and admiring the evidently complex melody):