Thursday, 2 June 2016

6th post

                  Local Councils Order Residents To                             Smoke More ! Local authority officials say "you must achieve set smoking targets to get your area's smoking tax related funding".  
     Some local authorities reaction to ensure they got what they considered was their communities fair share of the tobacco tax revenue,was to try and boost sales of the locally manufactured cigarettes by setting smoking targets for villages, factories, schools and other organisations in the area. Special tasks forces were set up to police it. Our research shows that a teacher in one local school "violated" the civil servant's usage rule by smoking cigarettes of the "wrong" brand. The school escaped a fine after some negotiation, but were vilified for "lack of discipline".
      No folks,I haven't cracked up and I haven't been dreaming or having a nightmare. And fortunately the above scenario was nothing to do with the U.K., but it was a situation that actually happened in China in 2009.! Can you believe that someone could actually create headlines of this sort in the 21st, century? 
      Ok, let me put that into some sort of context. No.1. China is the world's largest grower of tobacco. No.2. China is the world's largest manufacturer of cigarettes. No.3. China has some 300million smokers,making them the world's largest consumers. In fact the Chinese people smoke around one third of the world's cigarettes. Not 3 world records to be proud of.
      It is thought, by the people who's job it is to think things like this, that this situation was bought about by the plummeting demand for China's products internationally. And with 7% of Chinese central government revenue coming from smoking related products, that this was the knee jerk reaction by some very patriotic local authorities, feeling they could redress any impending reduction in their revenue from central government, by pumping up the volume smoked (and therefore tax revenues) in the areas under their immediate control!
      To be fair, this was against national anti smoking policies that Beijing were promoting. However smoking is so ingrained in Chinese psyche that this is the sort of thing that local government officials were prepared to do for what they thought was the good of their community. Okay, so people got sick and died, but only 20% of the population believe the doctors and scientists who expound the perils of smoking. China has around 100 cigarette making factories, and there are a couple of hundred of other related manufacturing plants concerned with drying and curing of the tobacco. So there are huge numbers of people employed in this industry.
      Tell you what folks, I got to this point feeling quite positive and happy about writing this post and this blog. To write this stuff,I've had to do quite a lot of research,and I've enjoyed it right up to about now! You know, I have been feeling extremely proud and chuffed to pieces that after a lifetime of smoking, I managed to give it up. Then I started to get interested, and passionate, telling people about the perils of smoking. I had no idea of the Pandora's box I'd begun to open! Honestly, the more research I do, the more hopeless and helpless I feel, and I'd got to thinking what on earth do I think I am doing! What on earth can I achieve? This whole smoking business is just absolutely crazy.
      1 million people in China will die this year due to smoking
                                 related illnesses !
        This is set to increase to 3 million in a decade or so! 
Tobacco production in China is set to hit 300million tonnes this year, and they will make around 43 out of every 100 cigarettes produced worldwide. Staggering figures. Now it may seem that I am "picking on" China, but that wasn't my intention. I originally selected China to research because I had been hearing good things about the growth of the anti smoking lobby in the country. For example, in 2005 China ratified a World Health Organisation anti smoking treaty after lengthy discussion and negotiation. Sadly, since then cigarette production and market share has increased! And how!! ........ By 30% can you believe?
Incredibly, this does not appear to be the Chinese government playing silly beggars or ignoring the W.H.O. treaty it ratified. It seems that enthusiastic factory managers, with help from American industry experts, have, in a relatively short space of time improved efficiency and productivity. Now isn't that unbelievably frustrating ? Enthusiastic employees increasing production! Wouldn't that be great if it was a product that didn't actually kill people? Yet so enthusiastic and patriotic are some of these people that the industry has stated it wants to grow it's contribution to the state from 7% to 10%. And this with no state coercion, but simply, they are proud of their industry and the amount of work it provides and money it generates for the State. You gotta applaud their work ethic, enthusiasm and patriotism, even if we as individuals, see it as misplaced. I say "we as individuals" rather than "we in the West" or " we in the U.K.", for reasons that I will discuss or throw at you later. If only this level of enthusiasm could be channelled into creating life enhancing products, I would applaud even louder.
      You know, 2/3 of young Chinese men will become smokers. Currently 68% of them smoke. Interestingly, in 1930, 10% of Chinese women smoked, now, only 3.2% of them smoke. I hope someone is planning to do some research into this as it may hold a key piece of information to reduce smoking for men.
      Anyway, in one of my earlier posts I intimated that maybe governments should stand up and be counted and ban fag factories. However, when you then look in greater depth you realise it ain't that simple. Half a million people work in China's tobacco industry and it is estimated that around 20 million people earn some income from tobacco, farmers, retailers and so on.
      With 80% of the population not believing (or caring) that smoking is harmful, it's difficult to see how this situation can be changed.
Unless another industry capable of employing and supporting these huge numbers of people is created, it's hard to see how anti smoking campaigners or anti smoking laws can combat this state of affairs.
      I said earlier about how we as individuals may see the Chinese workforce's efforts as misplaced, it's likely that the Chinese government, how ever anti smoking they maybe, (president Xi Jinping has now given up smoking) prefers to see the status quo maintained rather than have millions of people dying from poverty through lack of employment. This situation is probably not limited to just China, but I will continue with that point at a later date.
                                   There is however, a ray of hope !
     And it is that little ray of hope that has kept me writing about the perils of smoking! Almost exactly a year ago Beijing, China's capital city, announced sweeping anti smoking laws, banning smoking in public places such as theatres, cinemas, restaurants, bars, offices and public transport. It announced changes in the way tobacco products could be advertised, and stipulated that cigarette packets should carry health warnings. And to act as an example, knowing his fellow countrymen's ingrained acceptance of smoking, president Xi Jinping has banned his officials from smoking in public. Implementing the law though has produced another set of problems and rather than lumber an overworked police force with the job, the authorities asked for unpaid volunteers! And in Beijing alone some 12,000 volunteers signed up! They are issued with a badge that states "anti smoking inspector" and they approach people seen breaking the new laws and discuss with them the error of their ways. They are not able to hand out fines, but will report belligerent offenders to the authorities who will take further action.
      As these anti smoking laws are rolled out across the country it's good to see that people are happy to volunteer as unpaid inspectors, so it appears that there is a ground swell of anti smoking feeling growing in China. Ok, I admit that it is a very small ray of hope, but to use another overworked cliche " from little acorns" .................!!


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

My 5th post.

      Do I feel any different since I gave up smoking?
      You bet I do! 
      I find it quite amazing that for 60 odd years I fed my body nicotine in one form or another. Convincing myself that I needed it to feel good. To feel content, happy, to feel normal!
      When I gave up smoking it was like, well I'm not a fanciful man, so I am a little embarrassed to say it, but it was like a brand new dawn! Okay, my chest will never repair the damage done, but my brain and general well-being and my ability to concentrate improved so considerably, that I felt moved to write a bit about smoking and how I stopped. My hope of course, is that this will inspire you and encourage you to do the same.

           Just think about this for a moment, if I set up a factory to produce a product that was so toxic, so noxious it made people sick, created lung damage, caused mouth, throat and lung cancer, and in severe cases, killed people, how long will I stay in business? Surely the government, local or national will close me down. Even now if a restaurant or cafe produced a meal that gives people food poisoning or E. coli, creates dire sickness and death we, quite rightly, are able and do take those restaurantuers and cafe owners to court and charge them with manslaughter. Yet still we allow companies to manufacture, create and sell tobacco products worldwide that cause sickness and death.
      These companies, like bullies are blatantly aiming their sights at the weakest among us. They see third world and emerging countries as new marketing opportunities. I could go on for pages about
this, but quite frankly I want my blog to be about more positive things and not a rant about too many negatives.
       I mean, did you know, for examples that smokers include some of the most revered cartoon characters? Popeye and Donald Duck smoked pipes. Wilma and Fred Flintstone were cigarette smokers, as were such notables as Bugs Bunny, Daffy duck, and Sylvester the cat. Coming more up-to-date even Patty and Selma Bouvier (from the Simpsons),and Cruella de Ville have enjoyed an on screen fag or two!
However, some cartoon smokers had perhaps a more cultured taste and Tom and Jerry were amongst  those that smoked cigars!
      As we have become more aware of the dangers of smoking and enlightened governments have tightened up on smoking laws, many companies creating cartoons have been editing out the smoking scenes to make them more acceptable to present day audiences. Interestingly, decisions appear to have been made as to whether the smoking scenes involved goodies or baddies, so in some cases if the goodies were thought glamorous or cool, the scene would be cut, but if the baddies looked mean and villainous enough whilst smoking the scenes were sometimes left in!
      To show how anti smoking we were all becoming the Belgian cartoonist Maurice de Bevere's most famous cartoon character Lucky Luke renounced his previously permanent cigarette for a simple single blade of grass. Because of this, in 1988 Maurice was presented with an award by the World Health Organization!
      The cartoon film industry was not the only one to edit out signs of smoking. Perhaps the most famous being the music industry and the Beatles 1969 "Abbey Road" record sleeve. This shows Paul McCartney walking and holding a cigarette in his right hand. When this image appeared across the Atlantic some politically correct company executive decided that the cigarette was definitely not PC and had it airbrushed out, with no reference to the Beatles or the record company that owned the copyright.


      This wasn't the only Beatle's record to have been mucked about with, when their single "I want to hold your hand" was released in 1964 with a picture sleeve, Paul McCartney was again seen holding a cigarette. This apparently was fine, then when it was re-released in 1984 for the 20th anniversary of the record as their first number one hit in America, the cigarette had disappeared !!


      Staying with the Beatles for a while, George Harrison died aged 58 from cancer. It is said that the cancer was caused by years of heavy smoking. Now probably the last song and record George ever made, he wrote with his son Dhani, and it was called "Horse to the water". This song reflects a little of George's macabre sense of humour. Friends and family understand that this song was a reference to his inability to give up smoking, though he knew this was probably the cause of his cancer and imminent death! A little more than 8 weeks after this song was recorded with Jools Holland, he was dead! He showed the publishing credits as RIP MUSIC LTD. 2001,     instead of his own publishing company Harrisongs; a further sign of George's gentle, but black humour! 
      In one of my earlier post I said that I would, on the odd occasion, chuck in hints and tips (call them what you will) on how you might make a little extra cash. So whilst I am talking about music I will add a note or two on how I have made a bit of money buying and selling  vinyl records.
      Now this is a really huge market and it is difficult to generalise about what will make money, but there are a number of easy pointers about what to avoid. Some record labels or companies simply re-issue music, songs and artistes packaged in a different way. Labels like  "Music For Pleasure", "Hallmark" and "Pickwick", to name just a few are ok if you just want to play the music, but with very few exceptions, will not make money for you! Extremely popular artistes such as The Beatles, Elvis, Tom Jones and the like, whilst eminently collectable will rarely make big money. Yes, there are a number that are worth lots of dough, but the likelihood of finding these are extremely remote! I tend to look for long playing records from the 1960s, 70s, and artistes that are either unknown to me or slightly obscure. For example, I bought three albums dated 1971 to 1973, by a band that I had never heard of called "Help Yourself", from a charity shop for just £3.00. I put them into a specialist music auction and they raised £180.00!! Similarly, I aquired three 1973 albums by a band called Gong for £2.50, and they sold at auction for £65.00!


      Mind you, if you select carefully even the seven inch singles will make money!! Hands up those of you who remember a band from 1968 called The Factory. I bet not many hands went up!! Well, I found at a car boot sale a record by this band, featuring two songs, "Pass through the forest" and "Gone". I paid £0.50 for it, it subsequently sold at auction for £490.00!!! The record label was marked as a "demo disc", when I checked to see if it had ever been released, I discovered, the record in mint condition was changing hands at £1000.00 a time.

         Sorry about the poor quality picture, but it is good enough to give you food for thought!........ GOOD HUNTING!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

my 4th post

      Well I started this blog with the intention of selling my little e-booklet, on how I gave up smoking after 60 years of being addicted to this awful habit. So what I'm going to do is give you a little taster as to what my booklet is about.
      I am going to insert or talk about various pages of the booklet simply to show you what to expect. The one feedback I have on eBay says, and I quote, "I have tried most things, but this may just help.... It is motivational and funny". This should tell you that it is not a dry and boring spiel giving you instructions on how to stop by padding out 200 pages with stuff that makes you want to give up reading rather than smoking! It shows that 60% of men in the U.K. in the 1950s were smokers. It shows the sort of adverts that were in newspapers, magazines, and on roadside hoardings. Like these below.  
     It seems quite incredible now that producers of cigarettes were able to advertise in this fashion! And of course we smoked everywhere, pubs, club, theatres, cinemas, restaraunts, on buses, in planes, in fact probably the only place we didn't smoke was in church.                                     
                          Anyway here for your delectation is the intro to my little ebooklet.
                      Learn how I gave up smoking after 63 years!!
Hiya! Let me introduce myself, my name is Norman Townsend and annoyingly I am 74 years old! I started smoking when I was 10, Way back in 1952.
      I stopped smoking aged 73. Yep, I know, it took me a long time. And during those 60 odd years, smoking cost me dearly. It cost me a fortune. You will find out how much as you read on. Thankfully I found a way to beat this addiction before it beat me.
      As it transpires, I also spent quite a lot of money during those 60 years on the numerous stop smoking remedies and products that I tried on many occasions, all, I am afraid, to no avail!
I go on to talk about how i am not a non-smoking guru, I don't suggest or guarantee that by reading this you will miraculously become a non-smoker. I offer this as simply the story of how I quit smoking after 63 years of this awful habit. I don't know if my "method" for want of a better word will work for you. But I trust you will find the story about my 63 years smoking habit, interesting, amusing maybe, and an enjoyable read. But most of all I hope that you will feel inspired to give quitting a try! To feel if an old geezer like me can do it then so too can you.
      I then go on to talk about my smoking in the early years. The following paragraph or two are from my e-booklet.

I want you to picture the scene, a small boy aged around 10 walks into a newsagent shop. The boy is wearing national health wire rimmed glasses, short grey flannel trousers, long woollen socks, black lace up shoes and a woollen short-sleeved V-necked pullover, over a checked shirt. He walks up to the counter and says to the shopkeeper, "10 Capstan full strength please ". The shopkeeper reaches behind him, selects a packet from the shelf, hands it to the boy and says, "That will be one shilling and five pence please ".
      The child hands over the money and walks out of the shop unwrapping his cigarettes! The shopkeeper goes about his shopkeeping business.
      There was nothing unusual about this transaction, because this was 1952. The small boy was me ............and countless others acting out the same scene throughout the country and probably the world, in one form or another.

This picture was taken in around 1951. I am fourth from the right in the top row, and I would have walked from this school in my dinner break, as we called it then, to the nearest shop to buy my cigarettes. Probably with my best mate Derek, who is second from the right in the top row.
      It seems incredible now that any shopkeeper would sell a packet of fags to kids, who were kids, and looked like kids, and we didn't disguise the fact, we went in our school clothes! We simply did not understand the destructive nature of what we were buying. And the shopkeeper was there to make money, not to be the nations conscience!
      Smoking permeated every aspect of our lives. However you travelled, be it train, boat or plane we smoked. Although I do remember you could only smoke upstairs on buses, and on planes you couldn't smoke during take off and landing. Every restaraunt you went into was filled with smokers, every theatre and cinema, it seems extraordinary to think of it like that now. Adverts told us how cigarettes would enhance our lives, make us more attractive. Footballers had a fag and a cup of tea at half time, and even the great Sir Stanley Matthews appeared in adverts that said " Stan takes his training very seriously, and soon found that Craven A cigarettes suited him best". He goes on to say that he liked Craven A best "because they were kinder to his throat"!
      Little wonder then, that as many as 80% of men smoked during the 1940s.
      My little booklet goes on to tell you about my " battle plan", and how I began to tackle the smoking demons that told me how much I "enjoyed" smoking! Continuing with the battle to eventually defeat this insidious and ridiculous habit. 
      I have now been smoke free for over a year, it would be great to hear from those of you that have also beaten this smoking curse. So please take the time to comment it all adds momentum to the stop smoking band waggon.      Norman Townsend.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Ah! There you are! Well I am going to talk a little about me today. It appears that I am limited to just 140 words in my profile space. So I thought why would you want to read a blog by someone you know nothing about?
      So where to start? Well I am an o.a.p. and have been retired for about 8 years. It took me around sixty years to go from
                        this to.......................                                         this


 But I still do a bit. I like to buy and sell stuff. However, that's rushing ahead too much. 
     I live in Andover in Hampshire ( in the U.K.). I am divorced and I have a 24 year old daughter who also blogs. When I find out how, I will add a link to her site!
      It's amazing being retired, I really don't know how I fitted in a full time job, because even now I don't seem to have enough time to do what I want to do. Anyway,as I was saying,I like to buy and sell stuff. I like to buy oldish or vintage collectible stuff, but I don't like to limit myself so I buy whatever I can if it'll make a profit. I do it as a hobby rather than a business, and whilst I like to deal in vinyl records, I specialise in nothing!! This week for example I have bought a flexible child size mannequin with stand, a wrought iron conservatory table, a camera, two fishing reels, a Marshall guitar amp, an Epiphone Gibson guitar and a cuddly toy!! No! No! Sorry I lied about the cuddly toy, though I have been known to buy the odd teddy if he’s vintage.
      So why do I do this? Well as you all well know, money in the bank just now, sits there doing very little. I began doing this as a way to make my money work for me, to buy my beer and fags if you like!! (Now of course I don't smoke having packed up a year ago). (See how by clicking the link to eBay, top right, my little Ebooklet now reduced to £2.50)!!! Plug, plug.
      Sorry about that, I digressed a bit !! Is that just me or an o.a.p. thing? See, I even digress when I am digressing!
      Now I didn't want to start having to store stuff, so I don't rent a warehouse or lock up garage,I like to sell it on quickly. That's not always an option, because many of the items I buy are in poor condition and need sorting out, the three pictures give you an idea what I mean
          1. Bits I acquired .                   2. When stuck together.           3. It was a medicine case.
      Not just a medicine chest, but a Victorian medicine chest. I paid £3.00 as it was in picture 1 and it sold at auction for £97.00 as it was in picture 3. Ok, it took a while to restore it, but what lovely item that would have been thrown away!!! Now that's the sort of item I have to keep in the spare room until I have time to fix it. Conversely, I picked this sweet little copper 1 Gill measure, with Victorian customs and excise lead seal for 50p. at a boot sale and sold it on eBay for around £12.00, not massive I know but a nice percentage return!!

Now I am not telling you these bits about what I do to show off, I mention them because there is no reason why you couldn't do much the same and make a little extra cash.
      In my first post I said something about giving up a few odd hints on what to look for, that perhaps not many people are doing or maybe not even aware of!! So, first one!!
      Do any of you remember the old mains radios of the 1940s and earlier? Well they are still knocking around, and you can pick them up for just a few quid. If they work you can sell them on eBay for around £20 to £50, but because they are so large and cumbersome, most people sell them “ collection only” and this limits the sale rather. However what I look out for, are battered old radios that have been chucked in a shed or an attic and are in an unsaleable condition. And what's inside ‘em?

Well radio valves of course!!! Now I know nothing about old radios or the flaming valves, but having acquired one in really poor condition I pulled out the valves and researched a bit on eBay. I was stunned!! There are people all over the world willing to pay £££s for these things. I actually rescued 6 valves and sold them for a total of £73.00 !!! The picture above shows five valves I bought recently in a radio for a fiver. I haven't sold them yet but research tells me they should sell for around £45, so again not big money, but it's so easy to make!! And postage is paid by the buyer, and they are light and easy to pack and ship any where in the world, you don't have to rely on finding a buyer on your door step!
      Well folks hope you can make some money from my little hint and be sure to comment if you do!!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Well in all honesty I have to say I really don't know how to do this properly and make a "pretty" blog!
However I am heartened by the number of you that came and had a look at my first ever blog post yesterday and today. So I want to say a big thank you to all of you !! I am amazed that I was visited by people from America and Germany as well as the U.K.! I hope you will come back again, I will try to smarten the site up a bit, and I will try to give you some interesting and varied bits to read and hopefully enjoy. You comments will be most welcome and appreciated !
                                         Best regards, Norman.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

My very first blog

      To blog or not to blog, that is the question I have asked myself often during the last couple of years. What on earth would I write about that anyone would want to read? When I was younger I loved to write, but now there are so many people at it, what could I say that hasn't already been said a million times before. So the answer has always been no!(well not would be more precise). Then in, well I would love to say, in a flash of inspiration , or, I had an epiphany, a road to Damascus experience, but it was none of those things. After  talking to a friend about the fact that I had given up smoking, having been addicted for over sixty years, we began to talk about how, when I was a kid everyone smoked. How professional footballers had a fag and a cup of tea at half time, how actors, doctors, dentists and even sports stars would endorse cigarettes and praise what were then perceived as the virtues of smoking. At first, I think she thought I was exaggerating, so I began to do a little research, and this showed that in the 1940s and 50s,  80% of men smoked!! We then looked through the many different brands of cigarettes there were and the way they were advertised, in papers, magazines,in cinemas,in sports sponsorship and later in T.V. adverts.
      Anyway, long story short, it was then she suggested I write an Ebook and share the experiences of my childhood and youth as a smoker, and how I was eventually able to quit. My initial response was pretty negative!  I told her that I had read numerous books that purport to tell you how to pack up, but I found them so laborious and boring that I’d rather give them up, before I could give up smoking!! Her response? “Well you know the answer then, write a non boring short version, that people can read, understand and remember”. “Write the important bits” she went on. “Write the bits that helped or made you give up, that people can read in fifteen or twenty minutes”!
       SO I DID!! Well in truth what I have written tells how I gave up smoking, what worked for me. It took me a long time find a way to beat this insidious habit, but beat it I did!! And hence this blog.  I have never been involved in a venture like this before, but my intention is to sell this little story of mine, cos let’s face it, you smokers out there will pay, what is it now? £8, £10 for a packet of fags,
so if I can inspire you to stop, then surely that's worth at least a fiver!! Besides as a poor old age pensioner I need to recoup some of the fortune I spent on smoking over the years!!
      Currently my Epamphlet as I will call it is available through eBay. As soon as I know how,I will add a bit so that it can be purchased via this blog! (currently if you go into eBay and search " stop smoking" in category "health and beauty", I am about 27th. on the first page, you will see my black and white head shot of me as a little boy)!!
       Now I should also make clear that this blog will not always be about “Smoking Cessation”, because let's face it, it ain't the be all and end all!! So hopefully  I will be talking to you about lots of other stuff! Vinyl records, crafts, restoring stuff, stuff I buy and sell and maybe even how you can
make a bit of extra cash!! Every now and then I will slip in a little “ gem” of some sorts for you to peruse and maybe buy.