The End Of The World
Week 7

James Leavey's


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By James Leavey

Nipped over to Belfast last Friday, as chief judge of the annual press and broadcast awards, for a black-tie dinner, complete with lots of booze and cigars.It was reassuring to see an ashtray on every table, even if some people insisted on using it as a butter dish.

The other judges were the usual top of the media suspects, including the deputy editor of the Daily Express, and head of ITN News.Someone asked me who I represented, to which I replied that, among other things, I was editor of the world’s first travel guides for smokers.“So how come you’ve been the chief judge for the past three years"” He asked.“Because I’m the one who rang the other judges and invited them to take part,” I said.“That, and the fact that I’m the only person in the room with the keys to the cigar humidor.”

After dinner, I met an old friend and told him I was contemplating writing a smoker’s guide to Belfast.“The only things that are smoking here,” he replied, “are the guns.”Actually, he was joking, because the hard-liners on both sides are too busy creating a huge drug empire, while the authorities look the other way on the grounds that it’s far better that Northern Ireland’s inhabitants get stoned with hash, rather than the usual missiles.

The next day, I took an old friend, who had never been to Ireland before, on a terror tour of Belfast via a heavily armoured taxi.At one point, we considered trying to get into the ‘Felons’ club on the Falls Road, but as neither of us had ever been banged up in an Irish prison (the main membership requirement), we decided against it.Besides, you don’t want to drink in a club where they carry you in, and throw you out the back door with your legs shattered.

None of which would have mattered if the asteroid that just missed the Earth, last week, had been better focused.With the end of the world looming up, almost daily, what would be the last thing you’d reach for"I’d grab the wife and kids, a double corona and a bottle of the finest booze that lay within reach, but not necessarily in that order.

And what, I wonder, would a po-faced, non-smoking, non-drinking, born-again puritan reach for"Some legislation, to stop the rest of us enjoying what little life we had left. 

Which is why I continue to eat, drink, party and smoke like there’s no tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.And if it does come, I’m not going to get stuck in a room with a non-smoking, politically-correct bore.Indeed, I’d direct the asteroid, or missile, or whatever it was, straight on the top of their bloody head.

Happy Easter.

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