It dawned on me on New Year’s Eve that the time had probably come to stop smoking. I know how it sounds.
I have three primary reasons for this decision:
#1 I breathe like a seventy two year old meat addict and can barely make it to the top of the stairs.
#2 Stuffing my body full of fags, coffee, chilli and other stimulants is not conducive to a sattvic mind, which I wish to cultivate for the purposes of enlightenment.
#3 I’m fucking fed up of standing outside in the cold at parties.
So, realising that the surgery would be shut the following day and that I was in danger of missing the auspicious moment, I headed down to see the nurse.
“Nurse,” I declared, “the time has come for me to stop smoking. I know how it sounds. Like a new year’s resolution. Be that as it may – or may not – I am a recovered alcoholic and I don’t give up anything until I’m half dead. I’m going to need all the stuff you can throw at me. Patches, pills, lozenges, puffers, you name it. I’m going to need everything in your arsenal.”
The very first thing she did was get out a chart which showed how much money I would save over six months if I stopped smoking. It came to something like a grand and a half. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t pay duty on tobacco, being an anarchist who doesn’t believe in subsidising murder, and also being on the dole.
Not only that, but I had made my decision, and by God, I was going to stick to it. I just needed the necessary non-smoking accoutrements so I could go about the business of non-smoking: and I aimed to go about it with all guns blazing.
After a spot of mild coercion she decided to put me on Champix, with an instruction to keep smoking for at least three days, which blew my visions of a religious epiphany on New Year’s Day somewhat out the water, but - I have to admit - held its appeal nonetheless.
It’s an interesting concept, Champix. It allegedly coats the receptors in your brain which require nicotine. It effectively takes away the craving for a cigarette. My friends all swear by it, and use it whenever they’re stopping smoking. They use it a lot. Obviously this was the way forward. What could be easier than stopping smoking when the desire to smoke has left you?
And herein lies the problem.
I’m not giving up smoking because I want to give up smoking. No. I love smoking. After great sex, it is probably the most enjoyable experience in the world. In fact, after great sex, it’s usually the next thing I do. To be honest, there are many reasons that I think smoking is great, and here are just a few:
#1 Former smokers (or anti-smokers, to be more accurate) are the most sanctimonious and insufferable twats in the universe, and I like smoking just to get their backs up.
#2 It is an infringement of my civil liberties to be prohibited from smoking in public places. If we just roll over every time our freedoms (such as they are) are threatened, we soon won’t have any left.
#3 Those smarmy bastards who harp on about passive smoking, while ferrying their children to school and back in SUVs.
#4 Don’t tell me what to do, fascist.
#5 I am not a cow.
As we speak, I am on day 9 of the Champix challenge, and I am still smoking. To be sure, I have experienced most of the side-effects that I was promised: my sleeping has become irregular, I’m having nightmares, I’m feeling nauseous and my resentments are totally out of control, but as yet I have not experienced the one side-effect that I’m after, which is the desire to stop smoking.
Perhaps it is my lot to die from lung cancer or tuberculosis. Perhaps I’m destined to end my life sounding like Stephen Hawking and drowning in an ocean of phlegm. Then again, I may wake up tomorrow with the obsession to smoke a distant memory, and an insatiable craving for tofu and humus. What will be will be, I suppose.
What will be will be.