Holy Smoke

I slowly lift my cup of tea to my lips, lean back into the sofa and take a long, luxurious drag on a cigarette. Mmmmm…lovely. One of the most satisfying things in the world is to lean back in front of ‘Countdown’ or ‘The Weakest Link’ clutching a cuppa, a few chocolate hob nobs and a Marlboro Light.

Trouble is, it’s bad for you (the smoking, not the consumption of hob nobs- I hope), meaning that one day one of two things is going to happen- the fags will either kill me, or I’ll have to give them up, which may also kill me. I know I have to give up. It’s a drain on my finances, it sort of turns my skin green if I’m standing in a certain light, and the flat just absolutely reeks in a morning as I stand ironing my work shirt, scowling in a bluey black fug, puffing on the first ‘clope du jour’.

It’s not easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Practically everyone I know smokes fags, except my mum. And she used to. Oh, and small children. So why DO people put bits of paper stuffed with dry old leaves, some mad chemical and a wee bit of foam into their mouths, set fire to them and then cough and splutter their guts up whilst doing irreparable damage to their bodies? You really need to ask? Because it is FUN!

I never did it to look cool, or because all my friends were doing it. No, in fact, at my school one was considered to be a complete dumb arse if you smoked and were a boy. It was for girls only at the tender age. I started simply for something to do, to see what it was like. And unlike all those anti-smoking campaigns, which show the new smoker coughing and spluttering into their 70s bowl cuts, I did not nearly choke and find it revolting. Unlike other public information propaganda, my furtive snogs at school discos did not find my ‘ashtray breath’ remotely unattractive. My parents never found out until I was old enough not to give a shit, either. Nice one.

Now, I find smoking as the perfect excuse. If I flip out at work over something trivial such as people speaking too loudly when I’m on the phone or the printer spitting out recipes for flaky pastry when all I wanted were some application forms, what do I blame it on? “Sorry, I haven’t had a fag for ages.” At which I will mostly hear the magic words “Och you go on and have a fag and I’ll finish these.” Works like a charm.

In every house I’ve lived in when the inevitable has happened and my dark side has finally surfaced with a cutting remark about a fellow housemate, I blame this psychotic state on lack of money or cigarettes (which are of course eternally inter-linked), and not the fact that, in the main, I really have hated them. Funnily enough, those flatmates who I have never upset and rarely fallen out with tend to be smokers…strange that, eh? There’s a message in there somewhere.

But it’s all in the mind. As I stand in the pissing rain outside the office and puff on a soggy cancer stick, my throat contorted and raw and raging with God knows what thanks to the ream upon ream of cigarettes I have smoked that day, I think ‘why’? Why do I spend a fortune on these ridiculous things that make my hands, clothes and flat smell, that spongers just steal or nag until they can have one, that I always lose when I’m pissed or stand on when I’m in a rush? I mean, if I didn’t spend my money on these bloody things, I could spend it on something much more worthwhile, such as wearing Prada top to tail, eating out in ‘fancy’ restaurants, or even cultivating an addiction to coke. It could all be mine…

And will it really affect me if I give up? Will I turn into an ogre who will bite people’s heads off, be tactless, get over emotional about matters that mean completely dick, dramatise and accuse people of being ‘out to get me’ and get into screaming rages about absolutely FUCK ALL? No, of course I won’t…I’m like that already, but at least I’ll have an excuse.

So, it may be unhealthy, anti-social, smelly, whatever. Save it. I’ve tried before to give up the dreaded weed and have just added the fact that that I can’t smoke anymore to my usual ten-foot long list of things to bitch and kick about. In that case, pass me a cigarette NOW, put a gas mask on or fuck off out of it if it bothers you that much and allow me and my best friend to indulge each other…