by Ashley Lister
It’s been fifteen days, ten hours and forty-five minutes. No. Wait. Forty-six minutes.
It used to be that, in each of my stories, there’d be a character who smoked. Why? I suppose it was because I smoke. Smoked. That personal obsession changed fifteen days ago. Fifteen days, ten hours and forty-six minutes ago. No. Wait. Forty-seven minutes.
Don’t worry. This blog isn’t going to be one of those tirades against smokers, or some annoying piece of I-did-it-and-you-can-do-it-too-give-up-smoking battle cries.
One reason for that is because, I don’t think I’ve actually quit yet. I’ve just not had a cigarette in more than a fortnight. If I’d gone a fortnight without sex that wouldn’t mean that I’d quit having sex, would it? Dear God, I hope it doesn’t mean that.
Another reason this is not a tirade against smoking is because I personally believe everyone has the right to choose the chemicals they want to ingest. Whether it’s alcohol, nicotine or any other substance, I figure it’s down to the individual to decide what they want to put in their body. The opinion of a grumpy writer in the UK is of no consequence to anyone except that grumpy writer and possibly some members of his family. Smoke if you want. Seriously: if you’re able to read this blog, I suspect you’ve already read the warnings on the packets that suggest tobacco usage might carry health risks. You can make your own decision.
Fifteen days, ten hours and fifty minutes.
I smoked for about thirty years. Why did I take it up? I guess I wanted to look cool. A smouldering tube of paper, packed with dried leaves, and dangling from your lower lip, is bound to look cool, isn’t it? Admittedly, it doesn’t smell cool but that’s immaterial. It doesn't matter if you smell like the skid marks in Smoky the Bear's underpants: it’s all about the look.
Fifteen days, ten hours, fifty two.
Why am I quitting? Have I had a health scare? Am I reeling from a tragedy that’s struck a close friend? Thankfully, it’s nothing as serious as that. I’ve been wanting to quit the smokes for a while. A fortnight ago the right circumstances happened to fall into place. I woke up one morning without a pack of smokes to hand and my mood was somewhere between belligerent and lazy. I was too idle to go out and buy a pack; too stubborn to be bullied into action by an addiction.
Fifteen days, ten hours, fifty five.
And I suspect that this will mean the characters in my fiction will now be reformed of this kinky and potentially deadly obsession. I’m just working on a story now, about a character who’s not had a cigarette for fifteen days and eleven hours…