I miss my smoking habit. I know it's crazy but I do
Paddy Logue: I gave up many years ago and I’m glad. But still I miss it
“It’s been many years since I stopped being a dedicated, unashamed smoker, but I still miss them.” Photograph: iStock
I miss smoking. The lovely first one in the morning, the sneaky one outside the back door last thing before bed, the one in the car with music blaring. The many, many cigarettes while chatting with friends on a night out.
I miss the one I used to squeeze in just before I got on the train in the morning on the way to work and the one I had when I got off the train at the other end before heading in to the office. The one I nipped outside for during a kid’s birthday party. Oh, and the ones sitting on a terrace with a cold beer at 7pm under the warm evening sun in the south of France.
I miss the ones I used to expertly roll and the ones I used to have when I was a teenager away from prying parental eyes. The ones at the back of the school, away from teachers’ eyes. I miss the ones we used to have while at our desks at work way back when. Hard to believe, I know and I’m not that old. I miss the lovely anticipation of opening a fresh pack, blowing smoke rings, messing around with my Zippo lighter. I miss going splits with my friends because we couldn’t afford a full packet and the camaraderie of that. I miss the feeling of sitting down with a table of strangers at a wedding, immediately identifying the smokers and making friends for life.
God, I miss them, and it’s been many years since I stopped being a dedicated, unashamed smoker, but I still miss them. I can smell them, taste them right now as I write this. A woman with a cigarette passed me on the street about half an hour ago and I have to confess I breathed in the second-hand smoke as she passed. Just a momentary lapse, mind.
I know other ex-smokers feel like this, too, but of course you can’t say it. It is more acceptable these days to say you quite like engaging in a little armed robbery on the first Tuesday of every month or pushing wheelchair-bound children down steep hills at the weekends. But I did, I really did and I can’t lie.
It’s just that it kills you, makes your life a misery, makes you smell disgusting and costs an absolute fortune. If it wasn’t for these things, I’d start smoking again. I’d start right now this minute if smoking wasn’t forbidden on public transport.
Clearly I’m a recovering addict. I know I am, and it is this addiction that makes me feel this way. And if I found any of my kids fooling around with cigarettes I’d kill them stone dead for it. If any of you are reading this: dead. On the spot, lads.
Power of nicotine
I know the draw and the power of nicotine too well to let anybody else feel like this. The story of my purchase of an old Merc illustrates this quite well. I loved it: big tank of a thing, gun-metal grey, armchairs for seats, a bonnet that seemed to go on for ever and enough room for a small family of antelope in the back. Apart from the space and good looks, part of what attracted me to it was that its leather interior didn’t hold the smell of cigarettes and that it was an automatic gear shift, meaning I could happily drive and smoke without the nuisance of having to change gear and without a bad smell the next time I climbed in. A car made for a smoker, or so this addict’s mind figured.
I gave up many, many years ago and I’m glad for the presumed extra years of life, the extra cash and for being able to wear clothes that don’t smell like ashtrays. I used to give up at least every two years, but the last one stuck.
Can I hand-on-heart say a cigarette hasn’t once passed my lips since then? Well, there have been some near-misses here and there. I’ve walked into shops and back out again. There have been moments, there have been nights, there have definitely been lapses. But I can confidently say I have been a non-smoker for more years than I can actually remember, that I am fitter and healthier than when I was in my 20s. Two of my three kids have never seen me smoke. I smell better. And I am not spending €1,000 a year on the damn things.
But still I miss them. I know, it’s madness, I know, but honestly, I do.