When I’m 64…

The Scottish Executive are concerned about the future impact of Scotland’s ageing population, and are therefore carrying out several studies and consultations with citizens.

One of these consultations is at infoscotland.com/experience, where the hook is to use ageing software to give people an idea of how they might look at age 65. I ran my picture through the software. In case you’re confused, the one on the left is me at 44 (on a beach in Cornwall), the one on the right is how they think I might look at age 65.

John at 44 John at 65

I think there might be a few more grey hairs though! And I’ll need to stay off the buns.

The Irish Bungalow

The common myth of rural Ireland is of traditional cottages, not unlike this:


But the reality is the mass spread of the bungalow. These used to be small, modest structures that nestled into the landscape. However recently they’ve been growing to Texan proportions:


I walked past another one today that had a large conservatory, two patios with patio heaters, an outdoor pond or pool (it was bubbling!), and a separate building that seemed to hold a sauna or jaccuzi.

I think this is why the government recently tightened up the regulations on single dwellings in rural areas.

Nae Smoking

no smoking notice

Today was the first day of the smoking ban in Scotland. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants, cafes, offices and even lorry cabs and white vans.

Why is this a good thing?

  • In Scotland (population approx 5 million), 13 000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses. 1000 of these are due to passive smoking.
  • The average smoker’s lifespan is ten years shorter than the average non-smoker. My father died at the age of 64 from a smoking-related illness. He would probably still be alive if he had never smoked.
  • 30 minutes exposure to second hand smoke is sufficient to reduce coronary blood flow in otherwise healthy adults.
  • Non-smokers exposed to passive smoking in the home have a 25% increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

More stats are available on both the Clearing the Air Scotland and ASH Scotland websites.

Of course, the anti-ban lobby FOREST have a completely different view of the scientific evidence. But then they are funded by Big Tobacco. And they have the most unappealing set of smoking-related photographs!

The hope
The hope is that the 80% of smokers who wish to give up will use the ban as an incentive. Already the smoking cessation service provided by NHS Scotland has received double the number of enquiries as usual. The pull of “social smoking” may become less. And the general health of the population may improve.

Personally, it will be great to be able to go out for an evening and not come back smelling of smoke.

I welcome a smoke-free Scotland.

Update 26/03/06: We went for a walk through Shawlands this afternoon. Interesting to see small groups of smokers outside most of the pubs and restaurants.