Revolt in style? You can't do that?!!
Savoy Hotel, London: Monday 25th June 2007
SINCE July 1st 2007 smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places throughout the UK. Prior to the introduction of this illiberal, draconian measure, Forest chose to highlight opposition to the ban by organising a high profile, smoker-friendly dinner.
FOREST LIGHTS UP THE SAVOY
We called the event Revolt In Style, hired the ballroom at the Savoy Hotel in London, and invited people to enjoy a three-course dinner with wine, after dinner speakers, live jazz and an exclusive free CD. We invited MPs, peers, journalists, broadcasters and members of the public. Our target was 200 guests. In the event Revolt In Style proved more popular than anyone envisaged. We attracted a full house - 400 people - including 12 MPs, a similar number of peers, plus people from as far afield as Scotland, the North East of England, and Cornwall.
Host for the evening was restaurateur, TV chef and patron of Forest, ANTONY WORRALL THOMPSON. Guest speakers included journalist and broadcaster ANDREW NEIL (above left), and CLAIRE FOX, director of the Institute of Ideas.
YOU CAN'T DO THAT!
The Boisdale Blue Rhythm Band played songs from their new CD You Can’t Do That! (Songs For Swinging Smokers). In addition to the Lennon/McCartney title track, the CD features classics such as ‘Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette’, ‘Giving Up Giving Up’ and ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’.
You Can’t Do That! also features a new song, 'I'm Going Outside', with lyrics by ALAN PLATER. One of our most successful film and TV screenwriters, Plater describes the government's anti-smoking crusade as "hypocritical", "puritannical" and "sanctimonious". He wrote the lyrics after he and his wife Shirley Rubinstein - both heavy smokers - found themselves out in the cold every time they wanted to light up on a recent trip to Orkney. "I'm 71, it's minus four degrees, and I'm going outside!"
Revolt In Style proved a big hit with the media, attracting television crews from the United Kingdom, Germany France, Greece, Japan and Russia. The event was featured by the Daily Telegraph whose reporter Adam Edwards joined "a pack of rebellious smokers and pipemen for a last-gasp celebration of tobacco at the Savoy".
Writing in The Times, Rod Liddle "Spent a wonderful valedictory evening chain-smoking at a bash organised by FOREST on Monday night. There were some fine speeches - pugnacious and rabble-rousing from Anthony Worrall-Thompson; politically-loaded and sharp from Andrew Neill; counter-intuitive from the excellent Clare Fox.
Bloomberg News reported that "Some 400 people gathered at London's Savoy Hotel last week for a 'freedom dinner'' organized by Forest, a smokers' rights campaign group. Cigar smoke filled the air as a jazz band performed songs including 'Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette'."
Revolt In Style: A Freedom Dinner was the second time that Forest has organised an event with Boisdale. In 2006 we co-hosted Politics and Prohibition, a themed reception that attracted almost 400 guests to a speakeasy-style reception at the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth.
"In addition to tobacco smoke,” reported the Financial Times, “the air was thick with warnings about further restrictions on drinking and eating from the likes of Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas. Guests swilled down champagne and Kalashnikov vodka and guzzled ‘politically incorrect canapes’ - not for those with high cholesterol.
"Ranald Macdonald, founder of the Boisdale restaurants where cigar smoking is encouraged, declared his opposition to the ban - and was promptly arrested by three improbable-looking policemen."