i remember the day i tried smoke
both my parents were heavy smokers – just about 5 cigarettes short of being chain smokers. they started when smoking was cool and a socially accepted thing to do (if only the anti-racist and anti-sexist groups could replicate the change in attitude smoking has gone through). my early life was filled with fogs of ciggie smoke as mum puffed on players and dad puffed on senior service, not that they really cared that much about brands – a smoke was a smoke was a smoke.
no matter where you went there were people smoking. pubs smoking. restaurants smoking. doctors smoking. cinema smoking. buses smoking.
for some reason i never took it up.
then one day i decided i would try.
i would be like those cool kids at school.
i would be like my mum and dad.
i would smoke.
it was half term.
parents were out working.
i was doing nothing so it was time to give it a go.
have a puff.
have a drag.
there was enough time before mum came home from work to make sure that any evidence of my indiscretion would have disappeared.
do a quick check. pack of fags available, big lighter? on the table. ashtray? on the table (it may seem incredible that smokers who could have competed in an olympic puffing team could misplace, lose or break as many lighters and ashtrays as they did but add in booze and well it is easier than you think.
right let's do this bad boy thing.
oh hold on.
let's draw the curtains. mum's flat (always thought of it as her place) was the middle one of a block of three. the living room window overlooked a large green space but was opposite an l-shaped block of houses, so there was a very faint possibility that someone might be looking in the window at me and realise what i was doing and might be concerned enough to speak to my parents about it (say the same chance i have to win the roll over lottery win – that wasn't available then). so i did the sensible thing. i drew the curtains, even though we had net curtains (net curtains i have recently learnt means you are middle class – this would have been news to both my parents who just considered them the done thing – i of course was quite happy curtain and net less),
right. no one can see in.
i get a cigarette. i get the lighter. i take up position and psyche myself up.
a few strikes of the lighter to make sure it is working.
dangle the fag from my lips to get a feel for it.
check the look in the fake antique mirror (mum loved that mirror),
oh just spark it up.
flick the lighter,
put it to the ciggie.
huff or is it a puff?
crikey how long have i been watching mum and dad smoking?
why can't i get the darned thing to light.
just seem to be burning the end of the cigarette.
give it another go. third time is the charm.
oh no it isn't.
couldn't get the cigarette to light. tried my best. divine intervention meant that i never smoked.
my attempt at sparking up to become a cook kid failed.
have never smoked since or even thought about it.
have never managed to be a cool kid. ever.