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My life through the smoke of others.

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I'm 34 this year and other than a bit of playing around when I was younger I have never smoked. However, I have been around people who have in one form or another so I thought I would write a little something about them, their habits and how they have helped shape my life as it is now.

I will start with my father. As a young man he worked at Players here in Nottingham and, like all workers at that time, got a tobacco allowance as part of the standard benefits, This allowance he used from time to time on cigarettes but later on he turned his tastes towards pipe tobacco. It was in this period that a very little me arrived and the smell of a pipe filled with St Bruno is something that will always stay with me as a reminder of growing up, caravan holidays and long walks in various national parks. Once in a while he would partake of a cigar or two and even had a pipe that he reserved for the nub end when it got too small or hot to hold. My dad never likes to throw away or waste anything.

Now my mother worries, like they all do I'm sure, but she always manages to worry so much that she winds herself up into knots and ends up making life very hard to live for those around her from time to time. A few long standing friends and neighbors became ill with cancer in its varied forms and sure enough the pressure was piled high onto my father to give up smoking and get rid of the pipes. In the end he did stop but the pipes remain tucked away in the corner of the glass cabinet in the lounge, who knows if they will ever be smoked again?

While I was still at school, aged about 16 or 17, there were a few other kids in my year to began to smoke, nipping off site at break times or hiding round the back of the music block for a sneaky fag or two and, although they were offered to me, I never had the urge to try one. I never liked the smell of a cigarette, still don't to this day.

Cigars and pipe tobacco was another matter however and I tried a couple of small cigars. Unfortunately, being young and uneducated in the ways of the leaf I broke the cardinal rule, yup, you guessed it, I inhaled. I took that wonderfully fragranced smoke down and my dinner came up, my breakfast came up, the cake I had at my 3rd birthday party came up and I did what any young, dumb kid would do.....

I tried again........ bad move.......

Let's skip forward a number of years to my days at college and my first visit to a proper tobacconist's. A couple of the guys on my engineering course at college were smokers of various things, pre-rolled ciggies, hand rolled, the odd cigar and..... I never asked what else and during lunch breaks a group of about 4 or 5 of us would go for a wander around the centre of town, often calling in at the tobacconists to grab a bit more of whatever it was they were rolling up this week.

My Gods, the smell. Why had I not been in there before? There were jars of loose tobacco lining the shelves like an old sweet shop, racks upon racks of packs of ciggies and pipes. Tools, lighters, everything that you could ever need and no doubt a lot of things you never realised you needed until you had one. This place was amazing and I walked out thinking 'I must go back, I must go back'.

The thing is, I never did. I never had the money to splash out on things that I knew weren't very good for me and wasn't sure if I wanted to try again, I still had the taste of what would now be 16 year old cake in my mouth from last time.

Skip forward a little again and now I am working the nightshift at a supermarket, there are a few smokers there but they had their own little room (pre-ban times) and we never really mixed that much, they always came out of that room reeking of that smell I never took to. However, it was while working there that I met up with a girl who was a smoker. We had met online and then in person a couple of times before hitting it off (quite spectacularly I might add) and, although I have not seen or spoken to her for 9 years now I still have one undying memory of her (aside from the ginger buzz cut and the tattoos….):

She tasted like geraniums. When we kissed all I could taste was geraniums. Now, understandably I thought this was more than a little odd at the time but I was to find out a few years later that this was not to be uncommon in girls who smoked.

Still can’t walk past a geranium without a little wry smile mind you.

Jumping ahead again a little and I am still stacking those shelves on the nightshift for pennies an hour and I meet someone else, someone who I fell head over heels, upside down and inside out for, Alas it was not to be and she wasn’t that interested. However she was another smoker, a more……… alternative smoker shall we say. She got though pounds of the stuff, every night she was out of her tree and disappearing into the mists and haze of the munchies. Oh sure, I dabbled a little, some in a cake, a pipe bowl or two here, some rolled up with tobacco there. Speaking of which, the tobacco mix was my stumbling block yet again although thankfully the cake stayed put this time. ‘Makes it smoother’ she said, ‘tastes better’ she said, ‘hang on while I cram my lung back down my throat’ I said.

It was her who persuaded me to get myself into university at the ripe old age of 26. Cue a year and a half of pretty much smoke free days until I meet the woman of my dreams……….

A couple of years before this I had been chatting away online to various people and got talking to a fellow pagan from The Netherlands known only to me by her screen name and the few choice bits of info on her profile. We had been happily chatting away with no thoughts of ever meeting up or anything other than what was a pretty decent online only friendship. Now she decided to surprise some of her American friends who were over here for a wedding in Glastonbury and once that was over and done with went home via Nottingham. I met her at the train station and about an hour and a half later we had hit it off with considerable effort and fun times worthy of trumpets and fireworks. 3 days later she was on a ferry back home………

2 weeks later she came back, a train across the country, a ferry trip and another train or two could not keep her away. Two and a half years later she moved over here and we got married. It was during that 2.5 years that she decided to quit smoking, not sure of her reasons, never asked but she managed to go from 40+ roll ups to nothing in 2 weeks and has not touched another one for over 4 years. She also tasted of geraniums.......

Well, we have been married now a little over 3 years and this little story has now reached the present and here I sit typing away looking back on how many memories I have of smokers and smoking and thinking about maybe having another wee try. Afterall, I am a lot older now, maybe a little wiser, definitely more learned and hey,
Who doesn’t like a bit of old cake now and then?

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  1. snuffysmiff's Avatar
    A great little story there!
  2. Tzusskin's Avatar
    Thank you Smiff, it is something I have been thinking of writing about for a while. I was sitting here thinking about where I am in life and how I got here then I realised how many of those who have had some hand in shaping the way things have turned out were smokers.