One thing that rather bugged me about one of only two visits I have made to pubs since ‘lockdown’ was lifted was people smoking. Smoking in pubs has not been an issue since 2007 when it was banned and people had to go outside for a fix of carcinogens, but now many people have to sit outside because of social distancing and it is an issue again, if only with me.

It is entirely true that, as the old saying goes, ‘ex smokers are the worst’. I am certainly right up there in that category and it would not take much for me to call for smoking to be punished by capital punishment. Well, not really. But I do think that smokers will have to go just a bit further away and certainly outside pub gardens.

Given that we are living through the worst pandemic of our lifetimes – and I know not all of us are living through it – the sight of someone sparking up is slightly shocking. After all, one of the main things COVID-19 does is to bugger up your lungs. I am not sure how a pack of 20 Embassy is going to help that very much but each to their own. The only thing I would add is that I would like nicotine junkies to do it elsewhere.

Not only was I a smoker, I was as selfish as it got. I smoked in people’s houses, even when they said I couldn’t. In fact, when staying in Manchester in the late 1980s, the friend who put me up gave me a right bollocking for smoking in the guest bedroom before observing “you stink like a full up ashtray”. That was uncalled for, I thought, until as a non smoker I realised exactly how much smokers stink to high heaven. I was that man. Year later, I thanked her for her honesty. “I was only telling the truth,” she said. It was one of the best things anyone ever told me.  But times have changed now. I don’t smoke anymore and I’m slightly mad about those who do.

Last Saturday’s pub appearance wasn’t particularly smoke-ruined. The odd cloud wafted across our table, but it wasn’t continuous and the smoke didn’t linger. However, it did irritate my asthmatic breathing system to the extent that I needed a puff on my inhaler. I think it’s time for another look at second hand smoke.

In an enclosed pub garden, there’s a case for banning even outdoor smoking. Short of leaving the pub – and that is not the point of the smoking ban in public places – then surely non smokers, even ghastly ex smokers like me, deserve to enjoy a smoke-free environment?