As I have already told you I gave up smoking listening to the recording I had made for someone else, just to check if it sounded O.K. At that time I was smoking more than 20 a day, more on a party day. At the age of 17 I was smoking black and gold or multicoloured Russian Sobranies through an ivory cigarette-holder. What a wanker!
I remember when I was about 25 craving a cigarette, having run out of them at 4 in the morning. We were living in Queanbeyan at the time. I drove at breakneck speed to a nightclub that was closer to Goulburn then Queanbeyan that I knew would be open till maybe 5 a.m. Oh, the relief!
That shows how powerful an addiction cigarette smoking can be.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that after settling back in my cushions to listen to the recording I had reconstructed to replace the one that had tangled, I did not smoke again for another 15 or 20 years. I began again when was on my way to visit my dad in hospital after he’d had a stroke, and all upset I called into a service station and bought a packet of Benson and Hedges.
But after listening to my recording it was as if smoking had disappeared from my consciousness. I couldn’t smell other people’s cigarettes, I blanked out an ad in the cinema (someone said “this must be upsetting to you” and I realised I had ablated from my conscious mind a cigarette ad), I had no interest whatsoever in having a smoke. It was amazing. It was as if cigarettes had ceased to exist.
I should point out that I didn’t enjoy smoking. My mouth always tasted like the bottom of a cocky’s cage. I always felt uptight and anxious. Its called Nesbitt’s paradox. The notion is that you have a fag to relieve tension, but the truth is it actually makes you more tense.
Anyway I always felt lousy one way or another, but the times I had tried to give up usually lasted about an hour! I was just highly addicted and miserable about it.
After about a 9 months gestation period (weird, like having a baby), gradually the awareness of cigarettes crept back in. I could smell them for starters. Then I became insufferable, the smell would bring out the aggressor in me. I would cough loud and long (half real, half faked), I would glare at the smoker, and if that didn’t work I would ask politely that they didn’t smoke in my presence as I was highly allergic to cigarette smoke.