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Time my filthy habit went up in smoke..

Byline: Joe LINDSAY

Confederate flags, Nazi flags, crucifixion, cocaine accusation, bribery allegation, the budget, death threats to arts festivals.

Oh where to begin? This week I was convinced at one point Northern Ireland was a side project of director David Lynch.

Dark forces rising up beneath the surface of idyllic post-Tall Ships Belfast, the mess that has to be cleaned up after the party, the cold light of day illuminating the overflowing landfill of Arr Wee Country. But to be honest, I don't even know where to start with it all and quite frankly I would feel so dirty about it, I doubt I would ever be clean after.

Instead, I shall tell you of my immediate (as of tomorrow) plan.

I am quitting smoking. I know, only quitters quit, but it's time. I am done with the coffin nails.

There are numerous reasons, the main one being that I would like to have the illusion of living longer.

That's the main reason most people quit, the idea that all of a sudden a destructive habit of a sizeable portion of your life on this planet can be erased from the daily routine and life will extend beyond science itself.

I will be the greatest, fittest human being the world has ever seen, a Bionic Man of a man, leaping tall buildings in a single bound without coughing, faster than a wheezing train, stronger than anyone with adequate lung capacity.

I AM NON-SMOKING MAN. HEAR ME ROAR!!! Without coughing anything up.

I think I am ready. I am mentally willing in the sense that I am done with smoking.

It has honestly been the biggest mistake of my life and that is saying something, believe me.

I am the most pathetic of smokers, I didn't start young in a time when cigarette advertising was everywhere and positively encouraged, such that it was basically sold as giving instant cool and machismo.

No, I started when I was 29 and old enough to know better.

I had had a few before, when a few drinks turned to more, like a lot of people did and still do.

But I really started when I started DJing. It was nerve-wracking (still is but not as much) and you could smoke indoors.

Between mixing records, the nerves made me want to do something with my hands and smoking seemed to be the answer.

So off I went and I have smoked ever since. Even in the face of the smoking ban, I braved the elements with all the other outcasts and those who knew the smoking area was more craic.

I was happy to be outside as, in the absence of the smell of smoke, you could smell everything else.

Toilets, farts, body odour, stale beer - and that was just my house!

I was always aware of the health risks - potential death through various cancers as a direct or indirect consequence of smoking - and I knew I smelt of smoke and to non-smokers, it's pretty rank. Still I puffed away.

Prices sky-rocketed, it's now nearly a tenner for a pack of 20. A tenner!!

But still I persevered. Hey, you can't knock my commitment, eh? Other people quit. Friends of mine who smoked heavier than I ever did (I would average around eight a day, 20 on a night out) and they have my utmost admiration because, I'll not lie to you, I know it's going to be a hard slog. I am dreading it and I will miss cigarettes. I like smoking. I like smoking with a drink, after a meal, with a cup of coffee, etc etc but it is time.

My biggest worry though, is turning into a person smokers hate. Well, people I hate and I am a smoker for the time being.

Let me take you through the list: The Part-Timers. They have once smoked, or they occasionally smoke when drunk and they know they do this, but they seem to be absentminded when it comes to actually buying them. Or how expensive they are. I'm not a tight person but it gets annoying on the forth or fifth cadged feg. Even my witty but subtle, "They sell them in shops now, ya know" doesn't deter. It is laughed off with an embarrassed, "What am I like?" face and the fag packet gets lighter.

Then we have The Stranger Danger.

You can sense them at the end of the night. The bar is closed, they have no cigarettes, you maybe have a few left, they have booze-fuelled bravado enough to approach a stranger (i.e. You) and they will ask you can you spare one, mate? Your conundrum is, do you lie and thus enter into a negative agreement? Because he/she knows you can spare one and you know he/she knows you know he/she knows etc.

Or do you just say no and appear like a right tight git, because smokers should apparently have a kinship and be there like a brother in filtertipped arms. I always plump for the latter strategy. Think ahead, buy more, sucker. The nights are long.

Up next, The Ex-Smoker Guilt Tripper. He/she will have a grimace as you bring out a cigarette, look a bit longingly at the cigarette and slowly take one from you, tilting their head and adopting a guilty frown with an implication that you are somehow Nick O Teen (younger readers look this up) and tempting them to stray. It's your fault, ya know. You and your smoking in front of them.

And last but not least The Evangelist aka The Smug Ex-Smoker. He has seen the light of non-smoking, the Good News of abstinence, the way of fresh breath, white teeth and fragrant clothing.

He is a proper Holy Rollie!! And he will let you know about it, worse than vegans do about meat and why they are better than you for not eating it.

It will be sniffy, judgmental and constant and you brought it on yourself by not being good enough all this time. They actually make me want to smoke twice as much. I am terrified of turning into one of them. That is the biggest fear of all.

I am going to try one of those electronic cigarettes. They seem to get people off the fegs but I've never seen anyone stop using them.

Vaping. Vapery. Whatever it's called. Sucking on little tiny device like something Steve Jobs would have loved to have invented, had he not been such a health freak.

There are many different types, all different sizes, some make you look like you're sucking on an empty cigarette holder, others make you look like you've joined a flute band.

Incidentally, in the latter case, if it hasn't been patented yet, an E-cigarette that plays The Sash every time you suck on it? To paraphrase Del Boy "This time next year, Prodders, we'll be millionaires!". I'll only take 20%, I am not a greedy man.

My mum knows I smoke. I think we have a silent agreement that she pretends she doesn't know and I pretend she doesn't know.

But she knows, and is probably disappointed. I'm disappointed in myself but I don't think it's too late.

I think I can do it. I hope I can do it. If I do and I start lecturing you about it, feel free to give me a kick up the arse. Here goes...

I'm pathetic. I started at 29 and old enough to know better

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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 17, 2015
Words:1264
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