Saturday, February 24, 2007


Himba man - two, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Putting on my jacket just earlier to go out to the shops and betting shop, I could smell the stink of stale tobacco, a nasty reminder of the otherwsie very pleasant evening we had out yesterday, every bar we went to being very smokey indeed.

While most of Europe has banned or is in the process of banning smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants, in Holland we are in a process which is expected to take another four years until 2011, the previous Dutch government having conceded to the interests of the smoking and horeca lobbies.

Well, it turns out that the horeca (hotel, restaurant and cafe) industry has not been keeping its side of a bargain made with the government whereby in 2007 already 40% of establishments should at least have a smoke-free area. So, our new minister of health has said that if this indeed is the case, he will try to proceed to banning smoking in all such establishments by 1st January 2008.

It will be great if he manages to achieve this, as it was indescribable weakness on behalf of the government which gave the horeca so long to change. I mean, all that has to happen is that no smoking stickers or signs get put on the door, the ashtrays put away in the cupboards, never to eb seen again... and we are done! The horeca was given a chance to clean up and they didn't, so bang! A ban!

In the meantime, I have just come home cursing my luck with the horses. Two big races this afternoon and in both I fancy the chances of the number two horse: Lacdoudal in the first and Nil Desperandum in the second, both of which are about 8-1. I have ten euros and I put this on Lacdoudal, who runs a decent race without ever giving me the feeling he might win, although he came a close third. I decide I am not going to get money out of the bank to have a second bet, but i stay to watch teh second race, hoping above all that horse number two does not win. It is a long race and I watch him every second of the race. He is held in midfield and jumps well and looks enthusiastic. The jockey is giving him a patient ride whilst the one horse after teh other tries to take the lead, holds it for a while before dropping back. And, of course, what happens? Nothing other than this horse coming along to join the leaders at the start of the straight, taking the lead just before the last fence and storming on to win.

It is as inevitable as Manchester United scoring in the last few minutes to win a football match. Frustrating! At least, this time next year when I come along to lose my few euros I can do so without some annoying man blowing smoke in my face.


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