Cooking on Gas

Cigarette Chain

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.

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Fancy a Fag?

Turkey is an unlikely place to introduce a smoking ban. Nicotine consumption is an obligatory male pastime, along with rakı drinking and parlour games. Since most Turks appear to have a distinctly cavalier attitude towards petty authority, I assumed the new rules, as with parking regulations, would be roundly flouted. To my surprise, it has caught on; rigorous enforcement by the jandarma and instant fines for miscreants have both provided added incentives. It hardly matters. Life is very al fresco and popping out for a fag is a breeze compared to huddling outside a London pub in the drizzle heckled by tut-tutting passing strangers.