Monday, February 18, 2008

Normal Service Resumed + A Smoking Retrospective!

A very strange, and to be honest not too pleasant, few days.

My 21 year relationship with nicotine came to an end last Friday morning. After 3 days smoke free I feel the worst is now over and my ability to concentrate on such things as blogging has returned!

Those readers who know me personally will be suprised. Mark the 'chain-smoker' can't quit, right? Well, he has, Mr 40-a-day has become Mr 0-a day! No patches, nicotine gum, pills or such like were involved - just a little notice above my desk reading 'Proud to be a non-smoker, for family current and future' and a lot of evil (will power).

Anyway -normal service resumes later (or maybe tomorrow by the time I catch up with things!), firstly a look back in time to the 1980's for:

'Mark's Smoking Retrospective'

1984 - Between 13 and 14 years old I manage to grow a little taller than my peers. My 'bum fluff' moustache may not find favour with the ladies... but it does enable me to buy the smokes... '10 John Player Mate', (in my deepest voice). Actually smoking them makes me dizzy and sick - never mind, I persevere to be one of the 'lads' '

1987 - 16 during this year and left both school and home. Discovered there were more fun things to smoke than the Embassy number #1 that was my preferred brand at the time... I'd be happily rolling the Camberwell Carrots until around 91 to 92.

1989 - Get a job in a Cigarette Kiosk inside Tesco in Reading, UK. Horrible evening / weekend job to help get me through my A-levels. Walked out one day when some air-headed 'till supervisor' made me repackage all my coins (her only form of power / authority in life - and probably still is to this day!!). I just got changed in my Kiosk during a busy Saturday morning, left my uniform on the counter and walked away.... joy!

1990 - Now officially have more 'embassy point' cards that it is possible to shake a stick at. Change them several times for zippo lighters, screwdriver sets and.... wait for it... an electronic telephone answering machine with no cassette (Whoa - now we're talking high tech!! Internet?? never heard of it at this point in my life!)

1992 - Become a student again, this time in Birmingham UK, reading Psychology. Now the Embassy No #1 are getting a little pricey for my limited budget, start smoking 'Golden Virginia' hand-rolling tobacco instead.

1995 - Only previous experience of giving up... lasted around 1 year, ending when drunkenly accepting a joint from someone at a party. Now I'd already stopped enjoying the green stuff by then - but loved the feeling of smoking. So, I offered to roll some more joints for the crowd - only left the 'magic ingredients' out of the top centimeter (yep really!) so I could enjoy a little smoke without feeling like I'd taken the habit up again!

Ah, well - the slippery slope had started, Marlboro Red were my new favourite once the bottom was reached, along with the rolling tobacco which would remain until my very last smoke. Never being one to do anything by half I was a full time puffer again within 2 weeks... doh!

1999 - Moved to the south coast of the UK to take a new role within IBM. Smoking memory here is for the now defunct 'smoking rooms' in the North Harbour office complex. The walls were a putrid blur of yellows turning into browns, occasional white patches where a brave cleaner had tried to wipe the walls just emphasised the horrors... and the smell. (on the bright side, moved my career forward many times right there in those smoking rooms!)

2001 - Now travelling far more, both on business (US a lot) and pleasure (anywhere 'different'). Always was curious about the fact that, as addicted as I was to smoking, on a plane it never bothered me at all... 10, 12 even 14 hour flights were just dull - with no nicotine anxiety or withdrawals. Then, once we land... OMG.... Give - me - a - Smoke - NOW!!! .... funny how that worked!

2004 - First trip to Hungary (well, ok xmas '03 but keeping it simple here). As project manager tasked with setting up a new department taking jobs from 26 countries into a centralised organisation. I'd not heard of the place and they had not heard of my fave rolling tobacco 'Golden Virginia'... went on to develop a taste for Drum Halfzware Shag - the finest Dutch tobacco money can buy. Greatest thing about smoking in Hungary is the prices (around 1.5 British pounds a pack, quarter of the current UK price! (yes, you read it right, a pack of 20 smokes in the UK now costs around $12!))

2006 - Sure there must be some good smoking related tales from my year spent travelling the world... ah well will save them for another time!

2008 - Feb 14th having a 'romantic' bottle of JD with Erika. We agree that tomorrow when we wake up then we do not smoke any more.... or ever again. So far so good, while it has been a difficult few days the light lies ahead, if I start to feel bad then my sign is still there for me:

Proud To Be A Non-Smoker, For Family Current And Future.

Thanks for bearing with me! Normal (Poker!) service to resume shortly!



JL514 said...

You got it Mark. I'd wish you luck but that's not necessary, you've got it under control. Inspiring, now just need to get friends and family to read it!

Rob1606 said...

I really enjoyed reading this story! It was nice to get to know some more things about you. You have certainly been around a lot :-)

Best of luck with staying away from the smokes! Oh, and one last thing, though it is not important anymore now I guess :-) The Drum shag is called "halfzware" shag, with an F. It means literally half-heavy, or in this context, medium.

Mark said...

Cheers guys!

Long road still ahead...

mikewoodhouse said...

1 year, 2 months, 24 days, 1 hour and 10 minutes for me, after 33 years, mostly behind a Marlboro.

The wife persuaded me to go with her to some ridiculous alternative therapy thing (electro-something) that couldn't possibly have worked, except that I was then determined to recover my 500 quid in unsmoked fags I reckon we've saved about 6 grand b now, so perhaps it did work...

Mark said...

Nice Stats Mike, other half into all sorts with Mind-Control, Mediation stuff and everything esoteric... can not fathom it myself, but if it keeps 'em happy !!

Cheers, Mark

Oopda said...

Congrats. I am an ex-smoker myself, so I know what these days are like. It really gets easier after the first two weeks or so. I stopped almost 1 year ago, after realizing that poker seemed to go hand-in-hand with increased cigarette intake. Both live and online, cigarettes alternately were a method of celebration or consolation, smoothing out the dull spots, etc. Good riddance...

Game101 said...

good read, i wish you all the best and know you will succeed.

nh sir!