Still gasping after 8 months

October 19th 2006. A historic day… President Bush welcomed President-Elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico to the White House, JCC marketing were honored at regional conference, and Schrödinger application scientist Shashi Rao discussed features and capabilities of Phase 2.0, as well as underlying scientific methodologies.

Yes, as you can see, Google is utterly shit at finding interesting events that happened on a certain day.

Another thing it missed was my last ciggy. It’s been 8 months since I gave up and my life is an empty shell without them. Well, not quite but I do miss the little buggers – especially when I go out to pick something up from the shops and I find myself thinking “excellent, just the right time for a little rollie… ah nuts”. Still, I must be healthier than I was. With a good tailwind I can now hurtle along on my deathtrap of a bicycle at truly terrifying velocities (I’ve fixed one of the brakes now, so it’s slightly less suicidal) and I can make it to the top of the stairs without collapsing into a puddle of twitching phlegm at the top. So good news really. But I do miss them.

The strange thing is that I don’t think I could start smoking again, even if I wanted to. I’ve got a little confession to make. It’s normally considered somewhat reckless to put confessions on web pages that are not only accessible to billions of people worldwide, but will be archived by Google and The Internet Archive, thus making them available to billions of people worldwide for the rest of time, but I’m that sort of person – i.e., stupid.

It was a few weekends back and Jen had left me in charge of wallpapering the tallest bit of the hallway. It was a 15 foot vertical drop where the stairs start and downstairs ceiling stopped, giving way to the full height of the house. Jen had papered up to this point and I had to hang the next roll along, teetering from a ladder propped over the upstairs banisters in a truly shit-crimping way. Jen and Wibs had popped out to go down the park and I was left at home, sweatily labouring under the misapprehension that I could achieve more by trying to wallpaper the hall than by doing the washing up, picking hairs out of the plughole, or just putting my feet up and watching telly. In fact, it would have been better if I had simply burnt the roll of paper – I wouldn’t have wasted the wallpaper paste and the house would have been slightly warmer. But hindsight is something you only get after you discover that a) you’ve cut the paper too short, b) you forgot to fill in the holes in the wall, and c) the bit of paper you are lining up against is on the tilt, meaning you are going to end up with a 3 inch gap at the top. I ripped the soggy paper off and threw the brush down the stairs.


A while ago, while tidying up, I found Jen’s secret emergency stash of 5 squished Malboro lights. I was shocked and chided her for her weakness, giving her a short lecture about willpower (noting how I didn’t need a crutch), and threw them in the bin. Then, when she wasn’t looking, I picked them out again and hid them in my underwear drawer. Yeah, like YOU’VE never done anything that made you feel like a weasel of a hypocrite of a weasel. And it’s a good job I did.  I decided that pathetically standing in the middle of a pile of gluey wallpaper counted as an emergency, so it was time to have a smoke. Upstairs.  Drawer.  Rummage. Pants. Socks. Aha. Outside. Light. Suck. Ahhhh… Agggggghhhh… Blough. Chwoaar. Hwuuurck. Whaaark. Gasp. Holy shit. What the? Again. Suuck. Ahhhhhh? No! Chhwoooagh. Chuurf. Wheeze. Clouarch. Pant. Retch.

What has happened to me? In my time I’ve smoked joss sticks, hay, fireworks, match heads, banana skins (no, they don’t), wood, hemp seeds picked out of bird food (they make little explosions that blast red hot grains into your eyes), and none of those made me cough, gag and retch like this cigarette did. Well, I suppose to be fair, it didn’t make me think I was dying like the time I tried the firework smoke, but it was quite shocking, nonetheless. In the olden days I could out-smoke a petrochemical plant fire but now I can’t even handle a single drag on a low tar stick. I had to put it out after 3 puffs because I felt so sick. I suppose that’s good really.

Right. That’s the entry done. I’ve just got time to nip outside for a quick… oh figs.

Death Race 2006

Ever heard of “risk compensation“? It’s “an effect whereby individual animals may tend to adjust their behaviour in response to perceived changes in risk”. Being an individual sort of animal with a reduced risk of smoking related illness, there has been an adjustment in my behaviour when it comes to cycling.

My old heap (it’s called Dying Fleath and was bought as a replacement for my previous bike, Flying Death) is a fairly sorry sort of piss-poor excuse for a bicycle. The gears change of their own accord so they’ll chunk into top gear as I go up hills (imagine trying to submerge a continent by pushing it down with your foot), before dropping down into bottom gear for the other side, making my legs spin round like windmills. They need copious swearing and brute force to pursuade them into any sort of remotely useful state. There is no bell, the entire frame and handlebar assembly is just a ball of rust, and the brakes are broke. Well, actually, they do sort of work in that they make a lot of noise to alert people to my presence. They just don’t slow me down much. An emergency stop for me means a noise like a howler monkey being cooked alive on a spit accompanied by a gentle glide to a halt over the equivalent length of two football pitches. In short, I make oil tankers look nimble.

So you would think that I ride it fairly slowly, wouldn’t you? Well, I did when I was smoking. My lung capacity prevented me reaching any speeds even remotely close to double figures (either KMPH or MPH – take your pick). Now that I can get to the end of the road without coughing up lung nuts the size of acorns, I can go a hell of a lot faster than is sane, safe, sensible or smushy. Sorry, I ran out of adjectives beginning with S there. My increased physique, coupled with my perceived reduced risk has made me a danger to other road users, path users and people who have just chucked themselves in a bush because they thought they were about to get attacked by a charred howler monkey. Not only do I have the capability to zip along at an un-snail-like pace, I can’t stop doing it. For some reason I feel that I now have to ride at 100% all the time. It’s very disturbing for someone as deeply and fundamentally lazy as me. If there isn’t already a psychological term for being unable to cycle a death trap at anything less than 100% effort, then I’d like it to be called “Ohfuckshit Syndrome” after the noises made by it’s sufferers as they hurtle towards oblivion.

It’s even worse in the rain. If there is one thing I don’t like (actually there are several; you might have noticed), it’s getting wet. If you see someone riding a bike-shaped lump of rust, dressed up in cheap, leaking waterproofs and enveloped by a blue haze of obscenities, that’ll be me. Of course, in order to reduce the amount of time I spend getting wet I have to go even faster. And the brakes are even worse in the wet. And they stop making that noise so you can’t even hear me coming. And it’s fucking lethal – far more dangerous than smoking ever was.

If you see me coming, get out of the way.

How long is it now?

(Checks…) About a month and a quarter – probably time for another moan about how much I miss ciggies and how bunged up I am. Do people actually read this drivel? Probably not.


I now feel that I belong properly to that club of elite ex-smokers, otherwise known as sanctimonious, self-righteous wankers. I can tut-tut at people hanging around in a cloud of smoke outside the hospital doors. I can make exaggerated coughing noises as I strut past to show how much it offends me. I am sound in the knowledge that I am a better person than any of those pathetic weaklings. Yes, I have given up the evil weed and I am so ever-so-fucking proud of it. Read my almighty blog and weep, hopeless addicts, I am an Ex Smoker.

Is that a bit over the top? Yes. And I don’t do any of that. I still want a ciggy and I still love the smell. Anyway, disregarding the above lies, it shows that my system works, doesn’t it? I can tell you are impressed.

No tabs for 3 Weeks

It’s bitterly ironic that giving up the fags has sharpened my sense of smell, enabling me to sniff out someone having a cigarette at distances of up to 4 miles. People tell me that once you’ve given up it’s hard to be around people that smoke. That’s bollocks. It’s lovely being around people who smoke – you just stand downwind of them and breathe heavily. Yes, I know that I can now breathe like that without that death-rattle thing going on in my chest but sometimes I just like to enjoy the aroma, OK?

And christ, you would have thought that my bowels would be back to normal by now, wouldn’t you? Nah. I won’t go into details but I’ll just say that I’m taking in so much fibre I’ve practically turned into a piece of fucking rope. I’m that close -><- to eating prunes, that's how desperate I am. But hey, it's all health health health. Apparently. Jen reckons I've been in a right grump ever since I gave up. Reading this back, I think she might have a point.

One week in

Right. Before I go on, can I just say that I’m going to be sounding like your granny for a while. I’m going to be talking about my bowels – I SAID MY BOWELS, DEAR. YES BOWELS. Eeh, I’m a martyr to ’em I am, but you won’t hear me complain – been giving me gyp since 1947. Of course we didn’t have any of them fancy transmisty radios or webby nets, just Arthur Askey on the wireless in them days. Eeh, he were a nice man. Very clean… etc. etc.

In Roger’s Profanisaurus, it’s referred to as the “shit trigger” and it’s the first cigarette of the day. It keeps your body clock ticking to the rhythm of your life, due to the magical effect it has on the bowels. Basically, 10 minutes after the first ciggy, it’s time to drop the kids off at the pool.

I’m missing it badly. My poor old body doesn’t know what time it is or what it should be doing. Actually, it’s worse than that. You know the sugar free gum that I’m chewing whenever I feel like I want a ciggy? “Excessive consumption may produce laxative effects” it says on the side of the packet. I don’t know how much they class as being “excessive”, but there is a grim death race going on in my abdomen at the moment and I’m not sure which one I want to win.

Christ. Gotta g

The first day

OK, this isn’t too bad. Physical symptoms seem to be nothing much more than feeling slightly light headed. Mental symptoms? Yes, they are pretty mental. Ho ho ho. Hmm. Symptoms seem to be limited to wanting to crack crap jokes. That and a heartfelt aching yearning for a lovely, joyous, sweet cigarette.

I’m relying on this feeling being temporary in order to avoid the temptation to stab the next person who tries to cheer me up. I miss ciggies and telling me how well I’m doing does not stop me missing ciggies. Please leave me alone to twitch in the corner. Thank you.

Giving up the ciggies

After almost 25 years of smoking you would have thought that I’d be bored of it by now. Trouble is that I still enjoy it just as much as I always have, which is a bit of a shame really; it would have been ideal to have gone off them just as I decided to give up. Maybe I should smoke so much that I get sick of it and never want another one again? I’ve a sneaky feeling that wouldn’t work either.
So here is my (fully bullet-pointed) strategy

  1. Smoke rollies. Piece of piss this one – I already do smoke rollies. Done. Next.
  2. Now that I’m smoking rollies I can regulate the amount of nicotine I get from each ciggie. Want to cut down the amount of nicotine going into the system? Make them thinner and shorter. I should note here that my rollies have become objects of interest to smokers and non-smokers alike, on account of their miniscule dimensions. Seriously, I kid you not. One guy at work kept asking me to make one in front of him because he couldn’t believe how small I could roll (and smoke) them. Mind you, he was Irish. Says it all really. But anyway, having gradually reduced my rollies to pathetic little matchstick-sized stubs, I’ve cut my nicotine intake to almost nothing but I can still enjoy a trip to the cancer veranda.
  3. Cut down the nicotine intake but don’t cut down the number of times I go out for a ciggie. Important one this. I once tried to cut down by having fewer beagle breaks. Big mistake. It was clock-watching hell as I imagined the most awful withdrawal symptoms while counting down the seconds until the next opportunity to gasp down enough smoke to tide me over for the next hellish stint. By keeping to the same routine but gradually making them smaller over a few months my body didn’t even notice that it was getting less nicotine because it happened so gradually. Hee hee. Fooled it. Sucker.
  4. Find something else to do with my mouth. Fnar fnar. I tried gum – boring but quite effective. One morning, instead of going out for cigarettes, I went out and chewed some gum – just ordinary minty stuff. It seemed to work fairly well. I felt satisfied to some extent; obviously not as much as if I’d had a ciggy but it was better than nothing. The point of this is to provide a substitute for those moments when a ciggy is a lovely full stop on something you’ve been doing. For example, you’ve just put the final coat of paint on your doomsday machine and sent an email to the UN – it’s time to go outside and have a congratulatory smoke. These are my favourite ciggies – the ones I’ll miss the most, but at least I know that I don’t have to give up on these little celebrations totally. They’ll just be less smoky and more minty.
  5. Don’t chuck away my existing rollies. There is no feeling of panic quite like the panic that grips the heart when you discover you’ve left your rollies at home. When I came off my motorbike and realised I was about to get run over, an amazing calm came over me. In that split second, I just accepted that I was going to die and I didn’t even worry about it, let alone feel frightened. The last time I left my rollies at home I spent the day with a heart rate of a humming bird, enough nervous energy to power a small city and steam coming out of my ears. I spent the whole day either cadging fags off people or finding people I hadn’t already cadged fags off in order to cadge fags off them. In short – I don’t need to have that sort of panic in my life while I’m trying to give up. So relax – my rollies will be waiting for me if I need them, but I won’t.
  6. Don’t set a give-up date. I don’t want to have a specific date looming down on me. “Oh shit, only one week of smoking left – I’d better make the most of it”. Puff puff puff… and bingo – my nicotine levels are back up again. There is no point making my stupidly small roll-ups if I’m smoking 200 of them a day. No – best not to think about it. I’ll give up on the spur of the moment at a time that seems right. That’s the theory anyway. Will the day ever actually arrive? Well, quite frankly, yes. It has. Bugger.

There I was, having the second ciggy of the day, when I thought to myself “I’ve not noticed having either of these two ciggies. Why am I smoking if I don’t even notice that I’m doing it?”. Today is the day to give up. Oh fuck.

Let’s see how it goes.