It’s funny how things turn out. At the start of 2019 we were loft-living city-style, happy as pigs in the proverbial. By the end, we’d escaped to the country surrounded by the stuff, all quite by chance. Our best laid plans for a move to God’s own county were consigned to the recycling bin. And, my old girl reached her own milestone – turning 90 and still on the fags.
These twin themes were writ large in Perking the Pansies this year. There’s a lesson there somewhere. Also featuring in the top ten were a couple of fairy films, a fine but imperfect city and steely celebrations by the pansies still perking after all this time. Ladies and gents, please give it up for…
As usual, popular classics were of the more salacious kind. For the third year running, Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium from 2012 was the most read blast from the past. And the most clicked image was those naughty but nice boys with their big oars from Catching Crabs.
Shame on you.
Happy New Year to one and all. All we hope for in 2020 is some sunshine. It’s been pissing down virtually every day since we moved.
To badly paraphrase England’s greatest Queen, “I have a weak and feeble body…” I have miserably failed to ditch the dreaded weed several times, even with the help of a shipping container of nicotine products. I’ve been worshipping at the altar of the god Tobacco since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (well since I was 14) and have been impervious to the risks, the health warnings and the images of diseased lungs on the packs. Only the ever-spiralling cost put any kind of break on my habit. As smoking became increasingly anti-social, I joined the pariahs at the margins. Ironically the smoking area at work was anything but anti-social as lights were offered and hot gossip exchanged between puffs; it was also a great leveller as gaffers and workers communed in sin.
The smoking lark couldn’t go on. Not with my dodgy circulation and not unless I wanted to be legless in a decade or so. So last year, I had a chat with the smoking cessation nurse at the local quack’s. At first, she suggested I should attend a quitting clinic. I politely declined. Opening circles and tales of woe weren’t on my agenda, not after 25 years in social care where opening circles and tales of woe were part of the job description. When she took one look at my medical notes, my concerned nurse decided to push the nuclear button and prescribed Champix, the anti-smoking wonder drug. Now we’re cooking on gas, I said to myself. Champix is manufactured by Pfizer, adding to their very profitable line in little blue pills.
My last cigarette was on the 1st December 2013 and I haven’t smoked since. During the treatment, I experienced no withdrawal symptoms and no cravings, even when on the sauce. A minor miracle. There was a price to be paid of course. From the long list of possible side-affects, I endured long nights of restless sleep, disturbing dreams and terrible flatulence. I almost blew Liam out of bed several times and felt drowsy and bloated for three months. It was all worth it. I am now a non-smoker.
Liam came out in sympathy. His last fag was also the 1st of December and, apart from the odd patch to relieve the pressure points, he hasn’t had a nicotine fix either. A major miracle. He’s a real trooper with Spartan self-discipline, my Liam, and my number one crutch. As it were.
I’m struggling just a little to give up the dreaded weed (okay, I’m struggling a lot). Most of the time I bear my cross with the help of nicotine patches as my tobacco crutches. But, an evening on the Devil’s brew at the local ale house invariably sees me falling off the wagon: a relapse is odds on favourite every time. It’s another bad habit I must try harder to break (along with liver-dissolving binge drinking, artery-hardening titbits and talking to myself). A word of warning to other patch addicts. Don’t wear the bloody things in bed if you want to wake up calmed and rested. Last time I left a patch slapped on my arm, I tossed all night like a tart with crabs and had crazy dreams in vivid Fifties Technicolor. I wager few people these days dream of sleeping with Doris Day. Nothing smutty, you understand; after all, the virtuous Miss Day shared a cinematic bed with Rock (leather queen) Hudson. The minute I woke up, I panicked that the sheets weren’t fresh enough for the Febreze-fragrant star of the CinemaScope screen. It’s enough to drive a restless boy into the arms of a shrink.
It doesn’t usually do to go back, to try and relive a moment. Invariably, it leads to bitter disappointment and anti-depressants. Sometimes though, there’s some old magic left in a tired old formula. Such was the Absolutely Fabulous Olympic Special shown tonight on Auntie Beeb. I loved every witty word, every caustic comment, every grotesque caricature and the sound of every sacred cow being slaughtered. Watching deliciously unreconstructed, post-menopausal Patsy light her fag from the Olympic flame was worthy of a sackful of gold medals. Perhaps I am being carried away by Olympic fever but Ab Fab was absolutely fabulous.
We’re hoping to start our East Anglian adventure in a brand spanking new city-centre designer pad with a high spec and low bills: a six month probation while we try the city on for size.
Ancient Norwic is a young person’s university city with a vibrant crowd and a thriving arts scene; these old nags aren’t quite ready for the knacker’s yard just yet. I’ve chucked my old floppy slippers in the bin. Now they were knackered. Ironically, I bought my first ever pair of slippers in the Bodrum branch of Marks and Sparks, a soft shoe shuffle designed to keep my little tootsies warm during the challenging Bodrum winters.
We’ve been struggling to become a fag-free family, frequently falling off the wagon, usually after a session on the sauce. This time, things will be different. We’re determined to kick the filthy habit (famous last words, I hear you mutter at the back). The £8 a packet price tag would drive us into the greasy hands of Blighty loan sharks. Yes, my friends, times have changed. They’ll be no pipe and slippers for us in our new gaff.