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Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device

The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Smoking Kids

Much like the entire rest of the world, you have probably seen the smoking Indonesian toddler. Ever since Walter Raleigh helped spread the word about the world’s favourite health supplement (just look at those pictures) there have been enthusiastic and conscientious young ‘uns eager to ensure they meet their RDAs of essential nicotine nutrients, tars and carcinogens.

These children have even been lavished with positive encouragement. Robert Gibbings tells of his visit to a remote Pacific island with an un-named medical doctor and part-time entomologist, who spent his time traipsing the ocean like a latter-day Darwin. He bartered with the local children for spiders, one cigarette per sample, especially if alive and big. Two cigarettes were offered for a juicy, flea-infested rat.

Frederick Edward Maning went to New Zealand as part of the early influx of Europeans. He described the Maoris’ fondness for the weed, one hundred years before Robert Gibbings’ doctor was busy stunting the growth of Pacific islanders’ children; “I really do believe that the certainty of death will not stop any of the natives from smoking for more than a given time. I have often seen infants refuse the mother’s breast, and cry for a pipe until it was given them; and dying natives often ask for a pipe and die smoking. I can clearly perceive the young men of the present day are neither so tall, or stout, or strong as men of the same age were when I first came into the country; and I believe that this smoking from their infancy is one of the chief causes of this decrease in strength and stature.”

Over the Reefs and Far Away, Robert Gibbings, EP Dutton, 1949
Old New Zealand, Frederick Edward Maning, Adamant Media Corporation (2001 reprint), 1863
Far Green Fields, Ed. Bernard Share, Blackstaff Press, 1992

This article was posted by on Thursday, July 15th, 2010 at 20:46.
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