The butt – the end of an affair

Illustrations of cigarette packets

Today saw Will self’s intro to the forthcoming book Nicotine by Gregor Hens a book about stopping smoking. So I taken a twist of style here and decide to do a piece about my years of smoking .On january 4th this year I smoked my last cigarette after 24 years of smoking , I don’t remember the time or even if it was a normal cigarette or a roll up. I made my mind up and stopped as I had many times before but then in a Newtons Cradle like effect two days later I dislocated my elbow and thus spent the next six weeks at home, which was enough to finally break the cycle of me as a smoker I had smoked more at work than at home the last few years so being at home I just held on til the day I felt I was clear of smoking. But lets turn the clock back twenty years when did all start well the was a first cigarette on a geography field trip at 15, but even then I didn’t start fully smoking til I was eighteen. As will said in his essay cigarettes are a love affair. For me its connections brands people, places and times of life. Woodbines my first job working with old people one of which smoked woodbine the filterless strong cigarettes have a unique taste not that of filterless french cigarette no a smell that at once made you think of world war two films and the smoking in them and the smell of cigarettes like woodbines as people smoked in those films.Player number six my stepfather a man I don’t get on with hence a brand i never brought, More my late stepmother’s brand when she smoke I see them and think of her a classy cigarette for a wonderful woman and then JPS blue and old black remind me of My Amanda and my best friend both of which smoke them . Tobacco I remember the first time I really got tobacco rolling cigarettes it was the first time I met my ex on an exchange between Northumberland County Council and Nordrhein Westfalen and being stuck on a moor fixing a stone wall and smoking roll up with two german girls, I later lived in Germany with one of those girls where I used cycle with here the 5 km to Holland to buy even cheaper tobacco there the brands in a Dutch tobacconist  shop there are  mind blowing number of brands, I was  like a kid in a sweet shop tried many types but always loved the brand Javaanse Jongens Enteng a more expensive tobacco.How to light a cigarette well for me it was always a zippo I had many zippo lighters over the years, I had a habit of losing them but there was that strange petrol taster of lighting  cigarette with a zippo, myths no third light from a match (I believe this comes from world war one and the trenches but not sure if that is an urban myth) . As the year passed prices grew so I stopped smoking gauloise Malboro or Camels to cheaper brands, They stop me smoking in pubs but I carried on , stood in the cold and rain on nights out for the last few years of smoking was a change from the early days like an affair that has drifted on two long I end up smoking roll ups and finally this year felt brave enough to say good-bye to what had maybe been something  I hide behind I smoked, I talked with my cigarettes being part of me. I did at one point never view the time when I would have the affair with them but now looking back it is like the bad taste of a mistaken love affair in the mouth bitter and one wonders why you did it in the first place .I will be reviewing Gregor’s book next month he will also be suggesting five short books from German .

October 2015


%d bloggers like this: