Thursday, 26 July 2012

Ramblings: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


I’m reaching the end of the road. Not with the blogging. I still enjoy that. It’s with an old friend, lover and enemy: the cigarette.

I’d always vowed that I’d give up smoking by the age of 35. I read somewhere that if you gave up at 35 it was if you had never smoked. I suspect this isn’t actually true but I’m gullible at times. I got to 35, gave up after a couple of false starts and then managed to finally quit. It lasted nine months and a hasty lie to myself (you can just have one and then stay stopped) became a full time smoking habit again. It was Christmas, a time I don’t enjoy much. I felt I deserved a little treat.

I started smoking at 16. I’d always wanted to smoke ever since the childhood days of candy cigarettes. I thought it was stylish and sort of sophisticated and sadly part of me still does. I blame Bette Davis and Noel Coward. After a few heaves and retches, I took to it like a smoking beagle in a laboratory.

By 20 I was smoking enough a day to match my years. I was firmly addicted. I wouldn’t leave the house without a pack or two in my pockets. I stockpiled to make sure I never ran out and kept emergency packs all over the house and in my locker at work. Every habit was associated with a cigarette. Walking the dog, waiting for a bus, that post coital moment. They all needed a cigarette to complete them. A brisk walk in the country felt too pure without a hasty cigarette on the top of a hill.

I’m a terrible addict still and giving up was hard for me. I stuck on patches, inhaled noxious sprays and chewed gum. I also ate copious boiled sweets and became manic at times and bereft at others. I chewed so much spearmint gum that I had ulcers and lost a crown. The cost of the dentistry was more than I’d saved from not smoking.

I’ve come to hate it and smoking is now my enemy. It’s the cause of my wheezing, my bouts of gastritis and inflamed gums. It wakes me up at 4am for a fix of nicotine. I have the typical rationale of a smoker though. The dentist tells me my teeth will all drop out soon as smoking is making my gums recede. I consider how technology has advanced in denture manufacture. I rationalise the money I spend and think of the poor tobacco pickers who need the income. Not to mention the amount of tax I pay to support the NHS (which is crippled by smoking related illness). I hate the smell but just spray on more Febreze and wash my hands more. Copious aftershave suits me.

It’s coming to the crunch though. I’m 41 now and it’s going to get me if I’m not careful. I have a choice. One painful journey through nicotine withdrawal or carrying on the constant cat and mouse game of nicotine withdrawal which haunts me throughout each day? I never sit through a dull meeting or a long film without twitching for a ciggie.

I’ll keep you posted. I may surprise myself and you all by going smoke free sometime soon. Expect trauma and irritation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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