Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Going Up in Holy Smoke

Fr Tim has brought to my attention this article from Richard Littlejohn's column in the Daily Mail, March 6 edition.

Have you ever seen anyone smoking in Church? Me neither. Even industrial-quantity smokers manage to resisit the temptation to light up during 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', with the help of a couple of packets of Nicorette chewing gum. So why in God's name are health officials spending tens of thousands of pounds forcing churches to put up 'no smoking' signs? In Welsh chapels, the notices will be bilingual. How long before Westminster Cathedral is visited by 'elf'n'safety Nazis and threatened with prosecution because someone might catch passive smoking from incense?

Presented with the barely supressed fury one might expect from this newspaper, it neverthless touches a nerve. I have not yet had to deal with this particular initiative, but I am bombarded with legislation affecting our use of the Cathedral. At present, I am resisting the imposition of luminous Fire Exit signs in the Cathedral. Of course fire and safety must be taken seriously, but that needs to be balanced prudently with what is aesthetically acceptable. Health and Safety legislation, Fire legislation, Disability legislation - much of it directly conflicting with our Listed Building status which prevents alteration of historic fabric - are a great headache for anyone trying to run a building like ours.


Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Mark,
Perhaps the Daily Mail could have a better masthead by calling it the Daily Maybe.
It changes direction more times than a squirrel runs up and down a tree. Maybe that is what appeals to its audience.
Summarised below is an in jest mock sample of what I mean.
Front Cover: Royal Family shocker
Page 3: Why we hate the Royal family
Page 5: Is the Royal Family really that bad
Editorial: Perhaps the Royal Family is a necessity
TV Page Feature: Which do you prefer, the Royle or Royal Family
Holiday page: Call us at £x per minute and you might win a holiday... to Buckingham Palace

As for Richard Littlejohn, I thought he was working for the Murdoch shilling by writing in The Sun. He has a mortgage to pay.
Front Page: Richard Littlejohn mortgage shocker...

I'll get my coat.

John the organist said...

What a headache! I suppose luminous signs are needed in case the lights fail. Actually they should be pictorial signs.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Mark,
Sorry for the rant about Richard Littlejohn; as you might have guessed, he's not my favourite cup of tea. Being the Mail, I will await a volte face regarding his opinions on smoking signs in churches.

keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I fully understand your frustration with the No Smoking signs the point concerning incense is very relevant.There has been much excellent research(especially in the Netherlands) showing incense smoke to be full of carconogenic substances.Do you have a policy on this- especially in relation to the thurifer and young altar servers with immature lungs ?