Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

 Well, can’t say that this is the first time its happened this run, but I’m staring at an empty screen and I’ve nothing to write about. Well, nothing that’d take up an entire blog entry. Well, again, nothing that isn’t the post I’ve been putting off finishing and publishing. I’m going back and forth on that one, to be honest. As mentioned previously, it’s a bit ‘personal’ and I’m still not entirely sure I want to put some of it into the public arena.

So instead of driving myself mad (a short drive, I assure you), here’s some stuff on various things I’m thinking about today. All of these could have easily been today’s goingcheep, but they weren’t.

So you get three of them here; aren’t you all lucky?

I wonder when…?
I quit smoking in 2016. I’ve not smoked for over 1,700 days. Every so often, I’ll work out the number of days and it always surprises me. And I never know whether to consider myself a non-smoker or an ex-smoker. I mean, I usually just go with “I don’t smoke… at the moment.” I don’t think I’ll return to lighting up cigarettes. But I’m genuinely scared that all it would take would be one and I’d be back on 20 a day.

I’m on my third… substitute, I guess you’d call it. Or third crutch. I started off my ‘no cigaetters’ phase by using a Curv e-cig, then switched to vaping after about six months, when I was pretty sure I was going to stick at the ‘not smoking’ thing. And about six months after that, I switched to my current method of vaping, an Aspire PockeX.

In over 1,700 days, I’ve wanted to smoke precisely twice. Both times were in the first year, both times I was pissed off and angry and just wanted a cigarette. And, fortunately, both times I was with friends none of whom smoked.

But I can honestly say that since the first anniversary, I’ve not wanted a cigarette, not once. The vaping does me very nicely thank you.

Two rules I set myself when I quit: 1) No evangelising to others; I loathed it when I was a smoker, and I don’t get to tell anyone else that they should give up. Corollary to that: don’t tell anyone else they can’t smoke around me. Again, I’ve given up; they haven’t. My wanting them to not smoke around me, if that were the case, shouldn’t trump their wish to smoke. 2) Just because I found it easy, using the method I did, doesn’t mean that anyone else would.

So what am I wondering? I’m wondering two ‘how long before?’s.

How long before… I stop being scared I’ll start smoking again?


How long before… someone will have trouble lighting their cigarette, and I’ll automatically reach for my lighter before remembering I don’t carry one any more?
A few Ten Things that I either can’t narrow it down to Ten or I couldn’t get to Ten, no matter how I tried.

Some time ago, on the blog, I started doing Ten Things posts. They kind of arose out of John Rentoul’s Top Ten feature in The Independent., wherein he asks for nominations for the Top Ten Returns from political wilderness, or the Top Ten Actors Who Are Younger Than You Think, or even the Top Ten deaths eclipsed by people who died on the same day

I’d never be arrogant enough to pick the Top Ten of anything, nor even usually my favourite ten of anything. But Ten Things I Like, that I can do. And have done. Whether it’s Ten TV Pilots I Like, Ten Comics I Like, Ten Doctor Who Episodes I Like, or even Ten Audiobooks I’ll Listen To Again And Again.

But sometimes, yeah sometimes, I come up with an idea, and I just can’t get it to work, either because I can’t get to ten, or I can’t narrow it down.

Here are a few:

  • Ten sf shows that aren’t Doctor Who that I really like
  • Ten Law & order partnerships I really like
  • Ten Things my brother introduced me to that I still like
  • Ten comics writer-artist teams I like
  • Ten musical comedians I really like
  • Ten pieces of tech that blew me away when I discovered them
  • Ten political pundits always worth reading
  • Ten Sexual positions I like (not really, was just checking you were still reading.)

Nothing to say on this one other than that I’d seriously consider voting for any political candidate who came up with a decent, sensible, rational and common sense rule that people could agree with… about what period of time is sensible, rational and common sense for people to give away plot points online.
Lockdown Surprises
Four quick points on this one; things I’ve learned or learned to appreciate over the past 18 months that I’d not have expected beforehand.

1. Video chatting. I always hated it before 2020. Genuinely loathed it. I don’t like how I look onscreen. I mean, I don’t like how I look in photos (not quite true, I’m less repulsed by seeing pics of me than I used to be) but I really don’t like, still don’t like, how I appear onscreen. But I’ve come to appreciate both the necessity and convenience of video chatting it’s enabled me to at least keep ‘in contact’ with people, including Laura and Phil. And while I still hate what I look like onscreen, I kind of like the idea of future doctors’ appointments being on video.

2. People are, for the most part, sensible. Most people have gone along with the necessary restrictions to personal freedom that are, y’know, necessary. And most people, for the most part, don’t confuse ‘disliking the inconvenience’ and ‘refusing to do sensible stuff’. And most people, for the most part, acknowledge that others might find it harder, while not being aggressive to those who do find it harder.

3. There are though a lot of fucking idiots around. Yeah, that ‘for the most part’ means that there are some fucking idiots, doing fucking idiotic things.

4. Getting back ‘to normal’ is going to take a lot, lot longer than I, or anyone, realised. Whether it’s mask wearing, or going to a crowded place, or even going to the theatre or the cinema. It’s going to harder than I thought it would be. Both to feel comfortable doing those things and allowing my desire to do them supersede my fear in doing so.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

The final blog entry I wrote in the ‘2017 minus’ run was entitled: 2017 minus 01: A green light and dealt with my having quit smoking a month earlier… without telling anyone.

Spoiler: I then told people.

And I continued telling people. Just not here.

Because one of the consequences of not having blogged during the past couple of years is that, er… I haven’t blogged.

And a lot’s happened in the past two years; to me, to everyone, and I haven’t written about any of it.

Oh, I’ve commented about it, on Twitter, sure, but Twitter, even with linked threads, is by nature a concise format.

Some might try to get around that by writing dozens of tweets in a thread, but that’s not my tweeting style; threads on occasion, sure, but not long ones.

So while I a) gave up smoking, b) without telling anyone about it, and wrote about both in the entry mentioned above, I’ve not written anything long form on it.

There were lots of reasons for not telling people the first month, or telling very few anyway. primary reason being that this way there was no outside pressure; also, no ‘inside’ pressure. If I quit quitting… I’d ‘let no one down’. Was for once purely my decision to quit, and would be my decision to quit quitting as well.

But it’s now been more than two and a half years, and though I mention it every few months on Twitter, I’ve not had the opportunity to write about it properly.

So here goes.

When I left you:

  • I’d tried, half-heartedly, to quit before; never lasted. I missed smoking too much.
  • I decided this time… pretty much on a whim
  • Once I’d slept on it, I decided to have a proper go at it
  • I made a detailed plan to go from smoking to non-smoking in about seven weeks, with ‘targets’ along the way.
  • I kept to the plan
  • I’d quit smoking a month earlier, on 30th November 2016.
  • I was now using a Curv ecig

So for the next few months, I continued with the Curv. I quite liked it. It was easy to use, inexpensive compared to smokes, available in loads of places, and about the size of a cigarette, so I never felt like my hands had to learn something new.

I figured that, given the then-cost of starter vape kits (they’ve come down a bit since then) it was more sensible to stick with the Curv for a while; after all, who knew whether I’d stick at it?

For I’d tried before, don’t forget and I’d always missed smoking when I previously attempted to give up.

With the Curv? I… didn’t.

That was the oddest thing: I didn’t miss smoking.

Now, sure, to all intents and purposes, I was still smoking. I was holding something roughly the size of a cigarette, taking in nicotine, inhaling, exhaling with roughly the same amount of ‘smoke’ as I’d do with a cigarette…

And the Curv, while coming in several strengths, only had two ‘flavours’: tobacco and menthol.

So, with the exception of less crap going into my body, there really wasn’t that much difference to smoking. And it was cheaper, a lot cheaper. Not as cheap as vape would be, but well on the way.

Once I’d told people about it, people started saying three things:

  1. “You don’t smell of tobacco any more!”
  2. “Oh, you’ll feel so much healthier, and everything will taste better, oh, and well done!”
  3. “So when are you switching to a vape?”

To which I usually responded:

  1. “Thank you…?”
  2. “I don’t, it doesn’t, and thank you…”
  3. “When I’m convinced I’m sticking with it, and I find one that doesn’t look like a sonic screwdriver.”

Months passesd, I continued to very much not miss smoking, always faintly surprised at that. And I continued buying the Curv.

Until August 2017.

By then, I’d been saying for a couple of months that if I was still a non-smoker (I always kind of assumed I’d go back to it at some point) than when my birthday rolled around, I’d consider getting a vape kit.

Friends took care of that for me, and for my birthday that year, they bought me an Aspire K2 vape, plus half a dozen differently flavoured liquids.

I was both delighted and worried; delighted both because the startup ‘cost’ of vaping had been very kindly taken care of, and this vape didn’t look enormous, but slender, and easy to use.

Worried because as with any change, as with any jump-on point, there’s always the possibility that I’ll hate the change so much that I’ll just quit the entire enterprise, and jump off.

I didn’t, though. Quickly learned to use it, really liked it. Felt nice in my hand, wasn’t huge, didn’t feel like I was holding a sonic screwdriver, at least not a big one. (The only problem with the K2 was that it kept rolling off the table and falling to the ground. So I ended up buying a new tank every month or so… )

Soon, I was off to Edinburgh for a week at the Fringe… where I expected to have an odd experience; would be the first fringe I’d been to since quitting smoking.

And there was an effect, but not the one I was expecting. No, I didn’t start smoking again; no I didn’t miss it.

But after eight months of not smoking and it not having any deleterious consequence when out… When I was in Edinburgh – where I guess I always associated it with me smoking, and only associated it with me smoking…

every time I left a table, every bloody time, when leaving somewhere, when standing up from a table, I searched for my cigarettes and lighter.

Seriously, every time. The first couple of times were amusing. After three or four days, the amusement paled, and I was genuine annoyed with myself at it.

Hmm. Creature of habit, you see?

And everyhere’s uphill.

As you know, if you’ve been – and as you’ve heard, if you know anyone who has been – to Ediburgh, everywhere is uphill. Somehow, walking to a gig, you’re walking uphill. Walking back from the gig, you should be walking downhill, yes?

No. As Mitch Benn once observed, Edinburgh’s not so much a city as an Escher lithograph.

I was curious before arriving as to whether I’d notice any difference to my health, whether I’d find it easier going up the hills, the long flights of stairs… Sadly, no. No difference. Was just as out of breath in 2017 as I was in 2016.

November 30th 2017: a year as a former smoker.

I was pleased. I was fairly proud. I was, quite frankly, flabbergasted.

A few months after that, I lost my K2 vape. Got another, still Aspire but a PockeX, the one I’m still using now, and for the first time since I stopped smoking, I felt like “yes, this is the kit I want.”

And suddenly it was August again. And Edinburgh again.

And this time, in 2018, I noticed. I noticed the difference.

There’s a set of steps in Edinburgh that, for me, turned out to be quite literally the single best “huh, you are healthier, having quit smoking” measure.

This second pic shows the first half of the steps… there are another four ‘flights’ at the end.

And, for the first time, walking straight up them at decent pace, I ended up not being wholly out of breath at the end.


I repeated the experience the following day.

Same result. Out of breath, but not wholly so, not gasping for breath and needing five minutes to recover.

I repeat: huh.

So am I now permanently an ex-smoker?

I don’t know. Genuinely.

I’m not a smoker now. I think that’s all I can say.

I’ve only twice missed smoking, only twice wanted a cigarette, in those two and a half years since I quit. On both occasions, I was surrounded by people who didn’t smoke. Had they smoked, would I have taken a cigarette? I don’t think so. I hope not. But I don’t know, and that scares me more than it probably should.

I should find my personal devotion to ‘habit’ a good thing in the circumstances. I smoked as a habit; I now don’t, as a habit.

But sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing.

One more story, from a month ago.

Because it’s annoying when you have a flaw – one both you and friends resignedly agree on – confirmed, even if it’s for the most trivial of things. And this is trivial, I promise you.

I said I liked my PockeX, the kit, a lot. And I do: there’s not much vapour, so it does’t fill the room, and I like the taste of the liquids. Again, habit: usually a light lemon flavour. I like citrus flavours and have on the whole stuck to them.

BUT I’d started noticing the liquid was dark, dirty, at the bottom of the PockeX’s tank before I refilled it. I mean, really dirty. It didn’t affect taste but it… irked. It hadn’t been dirty before; it now was. I assumed the kit was faulty, or the I just had a bad batch but… it turned out to be something quite different: I’d been using the ‘wrong’ liquid for a year, the ‘wrong’ VG/PG balance.

The liquid I’d been using was, apparently, too ‘thin’ for the kit/atomiser/coil combination I had. As a result, the nicotine in the lemon-flavoured liquid – a pale yellow liquid – was being heated too high… by my kit.

So I was advised to change the liquid.

So I did.

Sticking with the same brand (well, same manufacturer) I changed to a 50/50 mix, but similar light citrus flavour. (I was warned up front that I’d have to get used to it; it’d take time, after a year of the other liquid.)

So… anyway, I bought three bottles & tried it.

I. Hated. It.

The closest flavours tasted horrible compared to the old liquid. And I really didn’t like anything about it: the feel of it in my mouth, the hit to my throat, not a bloody thing.

Hated it, hated it, hated it.

And the sad thing was that I knew that a part of it – how big a part is up for debate – was because I don’t like change, I don’t like ‘new’.

So, as I used my last bottle of the ‘new’ liquid, I’m was torn between toughing it out…

…or saying ‘fuck it’ and going back to the ‘wrong’ liquid – accepting the genuine annoyance of the dirty bit, and wiping it out – at the end of the tank.

No surprise that after a couple of night’s sleep, I went with the latter.

And yes, like drinking scotch with a mixer, there’s also an element of “I’m paying for the liquids, so I get to have the liquids I like rather than what someone else tells me I should have”.

But, yes, also, there’s a huge part of: ‘you’re a stubborn bastard, budgie; you’ve just decided you like things the way they were.

And when I told close friends about this, especially the ones who started me on this ‘quiting cigs, use a vape’ journey, they very good-naturedly sighed… and nodded. And smiled.

Something else tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.