I went to buy fags yesterday.
I know. It's a filthy, disgusting, horrible habit and I should be shot at dawn for continuing to smoke in the face of all evidence and knowledge and proof that it is damaging and degenerate. I KNOW. However. I went to buy fags yesterday.
For those non smokers among you, which seems to be everyone in the entire universe these days, things have changed. A lot.
I'm not just talking about the increasingly complex branding displayed by a schizophrenic and, frankly, insane, Marlboro. Or the comically high prices (almost £9 for 20 fags), or the health warnings plastered on the sides (diseased lungs, dead babies and that really weird autopsy one with the moustache and thing exploded out of his throat). It's the way they're selling them.
In the shop next to my old place in York, they had a sparse amount on the shelves. You had to point to the ones you wanted and then the lady behind the counter would do something or other and then they would pop out of this huge great vending machine in the corner. She said 'that's the law now'. It's not. Because nowhere else is doing it.
Yesterday in Tesco they have instigated the new rules about displaying the cigarettes. They are now locked away behind rolling screens.
Personally I think it's an utterly ridiculously pointless measure. Either make the damn thing illegal or wise up to your hypocritical selves and admit that the only thing that's keeping the NHS 'going' is the extortionate tax paid by smokers. Treated like second class citizens, herded out into the rain to smoke, sneered at by the healthy, mocked by the born again non smokers. It's not an easy life. the least that could be expected as an adult looking to buy a legal product is that I can see what's on the fucking shelves.
"Do you have Marlboro Touch?"
"No. Not anymore."
"What do you have? Can I have a look?"
"No, that's illegal."
"Er, well, how do I know what you've got?"
"Here's a list. Find the product you want and ask me and I'll tell you whether we have it."
Ooooh, this is fun, I thought. A parlour game. WHAT LARKS.
"It says you have Marlboro Touch on this list."
Scathingly: "Yes, but that's the list for the whole of Tesco, not for this store."
"So, can you tell me what you have?"
"No, it's against the law."
"HOW DO I FUCKING BUY THEM THEN YOU UTTER BASTARD MORON?"
I didn't say that.. Except with my eyes.
"Marlboro Bright Leaf then?"
"No, we don't have those."
Thirty minutes later I have read out the list to him and eventually we come to an agreement that yes, he does have Marlboro Silver and yes, he can sell me those. Presumably as long as I smoke them without actually seeing them with my eyes.
Next step is having smokers walk a tightrope over pits of flames while reciting the Qu'ran backwards and juggling baby piglets. Only then will they be allowed to look at the list of lists and tediously go through every product until Kev from Ryde Tesco deigns to sell them some motherfucking cigarettes.
I need a fag.