Out in the Cold

Author: Pat Nurse
Article Published: 14/11/2008

The next time you, a smoker, find yourself exiled outside in a snow storm, contemplate not how nasty are the zealots who hate smoking and smokers.  Contemplate how you allowed this to happen.  Each time you compromised by putting out your cigarette or taking it outside when a complainer told you to do so you thought your courtesy would gain you points in the social intercourse game.  Wrong.  As Pat Nurse notes even after the smoke phobics won it all they still must poke their fingers into the eyes of smokers.  Don't let them get away with it.  Ms. Nurse didn't.

I don’t get out that often so when the chance comes to go to the pub, I really look forward to it.  And so it was the other day when one of my best friends, Lou, invited me to meet her after work for a quick drink and a bite to eat.

We went to a pub that I used to visit a lot. It’s in a very picturesque place by the riverside and on a warm, sunny, day sitting outside is not too much of a problem.  However, the day of my visit was wet, windy, cold and grey. Undeterred, I took my plate of chips and my beer outside. The seats were wet but the helpful barman wiped them dry for us and set up the overhead awning that would at least keep us dry.

Lou and I were the only people outside and inside the pub was barely full. There were plenty of empty tables so after the food, and in between smokes, and at Lou’s insistence because I refuse to go inside a pub these days except to place my order, we moved to a table just by the louver doors that led outside.  A group of four people chose to sit close to us also near the door.

After a few minutes’ warmth, Lou and I decamped outside again for another smoke and closed the door behind us although it wouldn‘t close shut and was actually open a smidgen.   No sooner had we got outside than a woman from the group of four shivered, moved to the door, and despite the fact that she must have known that Lou and I would probably go back inside, locked it leaving us out in the cold with no way of getting back in unless we walked around to the main doors at the front.

Lou was happy to do this after we finished smoking but I was not.  I thought how rude that woman was, and if she had locked us out because she felt a draft from the door, then how on earth did she think we must have been feeling exposed to the full elements of the British weather in winter.  I stood from my seat, knocked on the glass, she looked up at me, appeared not to understand what it was I wanted, and looked away again. I knocked again, harder, and pointed up at the lock she had just bolted.  A man from the same group then got up, came to the door, and unlocked it.  As it happens, Lou and I had decided to leave and move on anyway but we walked back through the back door and out of the front entrance of the pub.

Incidentally, I do know the landlady of this pub and bumped into her at another pub later the same evening. I told her of my experience and she said she would put a notice on the door reminding customers inside to be considerate to smokers who are forced out into the cold through no fault of their own.

The tavern she was visiting with another friend, who is in the same darts’ team, was excellent. There were heaters outside, and even a TV built into the wall so smokers could watch events like football and not have to miss a thing by having to keep nipping outside to smoke.

We can only hope that more of these pubs evolve and if smokers cannot go inside, then let’s hope that more pubs move outside such as another excellent establishment in my home town which puts on a yearly smokers festival with live music outdoors to make us all feel warmly welcomed.

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