He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Give It Up

On July 1st, England starts a ban of smoking in enclosed public places. I'm thoroughly looking forward to it and welcome our smoke-free overlords with open arms. It's a long-awaited vote for common sense. It might even result in me being more sociable, as one of the reasons I don't go pubbing much is the smell. It's not a pleasant thing after a night out, aside from the passive-drinking, of course...

In the meantime, lots of people are giving up. This is a Good Thing(tm).

You're probably wondering what triggered off these thoughts. The answer to that question lies in the box that I was rummaging through a few weeks back. In there, amongst the photographs, I found this:

Just don't start.

This probably looks like the writings of a five-year old. It's actually one of the last things my mother wrote before she died at the age of 50. Unknown to us at the time, she had a secondary cancer just below the chest-cavity of her lung, causing her capacity to disappear randomly and instantaneously, akin to suffocation. As a smoker, it didn't help her condition - in fact it probably caused it. At the time she wrote this she was in intensive care, breathing through a tracheostomy. Communication was via the art of mime, along with pen and paper - hence the scribbling.

It says, "This certainly helps u stop smoking".

I look on this as a somewhat late moment of realisation.

When I was a teenager with something to prove, I used to hide her cigarettes. Many a time I've wondered whether this was the right thing to do. Inevitably, it just pissed her off and despite my pleading, she wouldn't stop. On the flip side, she was quite disabled and I didn't totally begrudge her the activity. She was largely confined to the house and didn't have much in the way of other pleasures in life - you can empathise to some degree.

You could be asking what the point of my writing is - indeed, I'm wondering it myself. Maybe it's that there are a lot of adverts on the T.V. that seem to try harder and harder into shocking the smoking public into submission, whether that's by showing bottles of tar, fat, or pictures of people in their dying days - but most switch off at the sight of them. I guess that by telling you this story I'm giving you something personal. Believe me, fifty is not a good age to go - it's only about five on top of the average life expectancy during the middle-ages. There are also nicer ways to go, too - suffocation is hardly peaceful.

Believe it or not, she wasn't a comparatively huge smoker - 15 per day isn't a huge amount when you consider that there are many who will go through 60 - 100 per day, but I guess it's all about risk and statistics. You just don't know how the odds will add up.

I hope that July 1st will mark the demise of a pointless, archaic habit - and a marked increase in life expectancy for the average Brit.