Non-Smokers Do Less Work

I am a non-smoker.

That looks like I'm using this column as a dating profile but I mention my smoke-free status to declare a bias about this news story. A company boss in Swindon has given his non-smoking employees an extra four days of annual leave.

As a non-smoker, I like this. I realise that might make some smokers get angry with me but I think I can outrun them.

Don Bryden runs a training company and he said he noticed some smokers take five breaks a day at around ten minutes each. That's nearly an hour off a day. Just under five hours a week. 240 hours across a 48-week year. It's 30 days, so they're still 24 days up on the deal.

I have had this conversation with smoking colleagues (they were colleagues who smoked, I'm not saying they were sexy) and a lot have said it's an addiction and therefore not their fault.

Someone who can't give up the booze doesn't get to stand outside the front door getting their hip flask out for ten minutes. Gamblers don't have paid FOBT breaks. That argument is a little weak.

One smokers once said if I wanted to go and stand outside the office entrance for no reason I could and therefore it's my fault for not taking the option. No I couldn't. I'd look like a right oddball and besides, it smells of smoke out there.

One colleague said smoking made him more productive. If he had to sit there craving a cigarette he'd get less work done. Well, having an afternoon nap would make me more productive but I'm sure regular kips under my desk would be mentioned in my annual review.

It will be interesting to see how this story pans out. Will it be seen as a form of discrimination? Is it OK to give more days off to some members of staff because of their habits? Does that mean we can dock the pay of slow-walkers? (I would be in favour of that too.) Can we take holiday time away from people who spend ages in the toilets? (I'm against that. Don't ask.)

If your company brings in a rule that benefits the non-smokers you could always quit. The job or the habit, but we live in an age of flexible working where employers get in trouble for preferring staff members who have no distractions from work.

My biggest worry is that it will end with industrial action. If smokers form picket lines, standing outside their place of work instead of being inside doing their jobs, how will we tell the difference?

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Flybe Or Not Flybe? That Is The Question

On a cold January day you look at the internet to see what news is happening and read that the airline Flybe has been given an extension on paying a bill so that it can keep operating.

As someone who is currently replacing all joy in life with working on my self-assessment form instead, I am utterly jealous.

I understand the difference. I am not important in keeping the UK connected. Flybe is, but it shouldn’t be. In a country this size it seems strange that we should need to fly left-to-right. We’re tiny. We’re only 300miles across at our widest.

The problem isn’t the airlines, it’s the trains and the roads. It shouldn’t be the case that someone prefers a form of travel that requires turning up two hours early and getting strip searched.

Not only are we a narrow country, we invented the train so we really should have it sorted. The Bullet Trains in Japan go at 199mph. If our trains could manage that we’d be across the UK in an hour and half and you’d get to keep you belt and shoes on all the way.

It’s not just the travel time issue, it is bizarre that you can often fly somewhere for less money than it costs to go by train. Think on that. You’re paying less to be in a machine that burns enough fuel to defy gravity than you’d pay to roll on wheels somewhere.

I saw one newspaper mention a woman who said she splits her time between Cornwall and London and if Flybe goes she won’t be able to. Well, maybe you shouldn’t be able to.

You know that nasty joke you get on text, the one about someone in a poverty stricken country who has to walk 20 miles to the nearest well? And the uncaring punchline is something about telling her to move nearer the well. Surely the same applies here. If you live in Cornwall and work in London you might think about moving one of them because that’s a long way.

Why do you fly that often? Sitting on that plane, reading your free newspaper about how we have had the hottest year on record and Australia is being used by Peter Jackson to film a blockbuster version of Dante's Inferno because it’ll save money on the special effects, do you wonder about getting a job nearer home?

So, is it a good thing that Flybe is still flying? I don’t know. It’s still up in the air.

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Gwyneth Paltrow's Bits Smell Like a Candle

I always love a story about the kind of wares on sale via Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop website. Before Christmas we saw you could buy some restraints and tree house which is idea for any kidnappers with too much money.

The latest item to hit the headlines is a candle. That doesn't seem too "out there" until you hear that the USP of this scented candle is that it is designed to small like vagina.

Why would you want that? In fact, I'd be more likely to get a scented candle out stop a room smelling like vagina.

If you're that desperate to make your room have the odour of ladyparts just leave some processed ham out of the fridge, it would do the same and cost you less than the £57 this Wankee Candle will set you back.

To be fair, it's not the smell of just any old growler. Your money gets you a candle entitled "This Smells Like My Vagina". It's parfum de Gwyneth. I don't think she should make things that smell like her actual bits. Some criminal could get it and use it to pretend to be her and sneak past her guard dogs when it's dark.

The Goop website describes the smell as, "funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected". I'm not sure I'd want anyone to know if the smell of my bits could be described as "unexpected". You never want to hear a sniff followed by a surprised, Oh!"

If you'd like to get your hands on to buy Gwyneth fandle, you can't. They are currently sold out. But if ever there was something you could make at home for much, much cheaper…

And if you're interested in a candle that smells of arse I have some Edam cheese going spare.

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Uri Geller Is A Weirdo For Cummings

Are you a weirdo? I think I can ask that now because it’s probably not an insult any more.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, posted a job advert online asking for “assorted weirdos” to apply to work at Number 10. One quick look at the kind of people they have in there and you feel like shouting, “Mission already accomplished!”

He wasn’t using the term as a pejorative, it was almost used as a compliment. It has the feel of an attempt to reclaim the word like so many groups have done with their insults. It might become known as the W-word. If that is the case it should be a word that only a weirdo could actually use.

*Looks at Dominic Cummings* *Realises that checks out so far*

So what could go wrong when you ask for assorted odd-bods to apply for a job? Well, one has. Uri Geller has said he has put himself forward for the position. You may remember Uri from several spoon attacks back in the 80s. He believes that mystical powers have gifted him with the ability to **** up your cutlery without even touching them.

He says he wants the job because no other candidate would possess his powers. True. Most civil servants would have to use their hands to ruin items in your kitchen.

He can’t need the money. He is in his 70s so would normally be retired. And the job is that of civil servant, so it’s a pen pusher. Unless he wants to try to push those pens simply using the power of his mind.

We have seen the covering letter that Uri sent. He wrote, “Dear Dom,” at the top, which is a nice touch on a job application if you are trying to make people think you’re weird. Clever.

“While many have doubted my abilities, my achievements cannot be dismissed as trickery or illusions,” said the famous TV illusionist.

He added: “In my intelligence work I assisted with Operation Desert Storm, helped to locate secret tunnels in North Korea, and used my skills to erase crucial diplomatic discs on their way to Moscow.”

He can erase computer files with his mind?! Now that is a power I’d like.

“What’s that, darling. You need to log onto my laptop? Sure, just let me stare at it till the vein comes up on my forehead... Done!”

Uri Geller recently said he had used his powers to help Boris Johnson win last year’s election by giving his aides a spoon enthused with positive energy. It clearly worked but we don’t know by how much. Who helped Boris win more? Uri? Dominic Cummings? Jeremy Corbyn?

He said he could help by using his powers during the Brexit negotiations. You can bend spoons, you should be using your powers to stop heroin users.

Before they sign him up they should remember that previously Uri said he would use his special abilities to stop Brexit happening. Remind us Uri, how did that work out for you?

⮱Read the source story

Further listening: Here’s a radio interview I did with Uri Geller about his plan to use his mind powers in politics.


After recording, I arrived home to find all of my spoons were melted into the shape of a hand giving a middle-finger. I am sure it is a coincidence.



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