Your opinions mean nothing to me….Daddy!

Well this morning I woke and I didn’t really have any cravings. At long last it seems the cravings have diminished to just a slight worry rather than mind-bending anxiety. It’s taken nearly two months to get here. I was starting to run out of things to take my mind off smoking however I have discovered a great distraction that I think I could market and eventually sell as a quit smoking aid. My youngest son! I’m pretty sure he asks lots of questions as part of a strategy of being deliberately annoying. So I’ve started to listen to him and play him at his own game. It became apparent very early on that he didn’t care about any of the answers I gave to his relentless queries about animals, drinks, the weather, other children’s parents, food, gravity, the solar system. I’m pretty sure he sees the barrage of questions as a form of antagonistic sport. But I didn’t let him know how irritating I was finding it all. In fact the whole disturbing interaction is great for taking my mind off my anxiety.

The trick is in realizing that these questions are not a natural consequence of innocent childish curiosity. My son is not in any way interested in the world or my comments and opinions about it. He just wants to do my head in and suck it dry like a tiny parasite. I asked him if he was a parasite and he replied “What’s a parasite? Is it like a parachute? Or is it more like a parrot? Do parrots live in trees? Is wood from Trees? Are trees a type of building?”

I gave up playing his game. I’m pretty sure he can keep this shit going longer than I can stay sober!

Miniature Hero

Well that nagging feeling I had on Tuesday where I was sure I had forgotten something turned out to be right. I had forgotten Valentines day and a quick stop at the off license and the 24 hour garage on the way home from work didn’t save the day. I presented my dearly beloved valentine with a bottle of Cava and a large box of miniature Heroes (her favorite, or at least she said they were at Christmas). She tutted and mumbled something along the lines of “hopeless”. I get the feeling she was expecting something a bit different. I feel a lot different in myself after giving up smoking. I’m generally more positive and getting slightly less stressed about it all however this hasn’t had the effect of turning me into a blissful romantic who expresses fake wonder at daffodils and kittens and stuff. I still think Poldark is crap.

I think she was expecting lingerie or something but I find women’s shops intimidating. I was genuinely relieved when the local discount shop brought out a one pound bra. I feel quite at ease in a shop which has everything for a pound including budget bras. I was hoping this would pass as sexy stylish underwear and would be deemed a suitable romantic gift but the wife has told me it’s not acceptable. Apparently it’s not fancy enough. And furthermore she says she is against the shop on principle because nothing can be produced that cheap without the use of underage child labour in conditions that make Oliver Twist look like Center Parcs. She’s forgetting that everything is a pound including miniature Heroes!

 

That nagging feeling…

Well I’m now 6 weeks smoke free. The anxiety had subsided until this morning when I awoke with that terrible feeling that I’ve forgotten something really bloody important! On the way to work I popped into the 24 hour garage thinking, what the hell is it I’ve forgotten?!?!? I felt that feeling of anxious déjà vu that a 24 hour garage had some significance. I glanced at a cheap bunch of flowers wilting in a bucket and felt a sort of jolt in my stomach. Was the car due its service? I went into the supermarket to pick up my daily meal deal where I was immediately met with an array of Easter Eggs meticulously arranged in a giant pyramid. I’m pretty sure it’s not Easter yet so I haven’t forgotten that as it’s not quite time to remember. I’ll wait for that one until it’s time to forget until the last minute.

I’m pretty sure giving up smoking has affected my memory somewhat. Before I gave up I had a strict routine of buying fags first thing in the morning then once I had my fix my mind would be reeling and double checking everything so no one could accuse me of only ever thinking about myself. Since giving up smoking I am so preoccupied with not smoking that I seem to forget a lot lately. And why is there a giant bouquet of red roses in reception? This is a very strange day. Oh, and I see Barbara in accounts has relapsed on the milk tray again. Seems I’m not the only one struggling with New Year’s resolutions today.

Mind control!

Well the trip to the zoo has seriously backfired. The kids enjoyed it immensely and now have a list of things they would like to do during half-term. I didn’t expect this to happen, this is serious! I was thoroughly stressed out the entire time. Normally days out have been curtailed by a tearful disagreement over who has which flavour ice lolly but this never happened. The kids seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. The wife was smiling gleefully throughout the entire day like we were no longer a thoroughly dysfunctional family. She seems to be under the impression that I am a reformed character intent on being a good father who is preoccupied with healthy family based excursions. All I’ve done is give up smoking and drinking I haven’t been reprogrammed by MI5!

So there goes all the money I have so far saved from giving up smoking. The wife has gone and mentioned the Hawk Conservancy and falconry centre to one of the boys who has gone ape shit crazy about it. He loves the idea and has gone and told his teacher and friends all about it. So that’s that then, I have no idea how I’m getting out of that one. Basically I’ll have to drive 3 hours to a medium security bird prison staffed by alcoholic former stage actors dressed as Tudor noblemen. I’m not even sure I could depart from what dignity I have left to dress up like that. There’s a limit to just how fun this can be. I had no idea that giving up smoking would carry this level of responsibility!

Drunk Panda!

Well it’s nearly been a whole month, this is the longest I haven’t smoked for for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure I started when I was about oh I dunno, 12 maybe. Incidentally that’s pretty much when I started all my unhealthy pastimes including drinking, dodging any sort of physical exertion – especially work – and generally adopting an attitude of contempt towards any kind of authority especially people telling me whats good for my health. Well all that has changed. I’m very positive today as I approach the weekend and I’m thinking of taking the family out somewhere for a day trip. They really won’t be expecting that one!

Up until now I was dreading the weekends as I had to come up with imaginative excuses as to why I wasn’t attending the pub. It’s the pub strangely enough that has given me an idea of where to take the family. I’m going to take them to the zoo! I haven’t been to the zoo for years and I’ve never taken the family. The pub isn’t that far removed from a sort of human zoo. There are some of the rarest endangered humans on the planet in there. There’s the worlds reddest man, the two oldest looking middle-aged women on the planet and a girl who can sustain an argument with her boyfriend for 39 hours without needing any food or sleep.

I have spent hours in there like a sort of amateur anthropologist observing specimens like Dinky the 29 stone Glaswegian rail worker who uses a unique language to communicate with bar staff. He is always in there and resembles a big fat drunk panda. Technically he is not in captivity, he chooses not to leave! He just continues with his instinctive behaviour of drinking cheap beer and growling incoherently. This is his natural habitat, a cavernous, eerily quiet pub occasionally interrupted by the grunts and squeals of other pairs of humans performing drunken courtship rituals. I think it’s important that we preserve endangered species for future generations. Hopefully I’ll be taken off the endangered list soon!

Weekend misery!

Well I managed to get through another weekend completely alcohol and smoke free but I’m not sure how much longer I can resist going to the pub. It’s insane how much this is all worrying me now. I’m not sure if I’m still withdrawing from nicotine hence all the anxiety or if it’s this complete life change and the fear of the unknown. I’m now approaching the three week mark of not smoking or drinking. I didn’t realize just how vacuous my life is without two of the most unhealthy vices in my routine.

My colleagues at work have dreamed up some spoof award to give me for abstaining from alcohol. No award or commendation for not smoking, it’s the not drinking thing they can’t understand. When asked what I did at the weekend instead of going straight down the pub to spend three increasingly incoherent hours explaining what ‘Brexit’ means for the average Cornishman, I told them I went straight home to spend time with my family. I then faced the horrors of Saturday night television without the help of vodka, followed by a sprawling, epic Sunday brooding on the week ahead.

I got some really funny looks from people who I usually have very little to do with like everyone in the office! One colleague remarked “My granddad took part in D-Day and said the word ‘hero’ was used too much, but I think even he would acknowledge this level of raw courage.”

I think he was taking the piss.

 


 

Friday the 13th!

Normally Fridays are a pleasant day for me as I drift peacefully toward the weekend. However, I’m now somewhat nervous about them, particularly today as it’s Friday the 13th and coincidentally my 13th smoke free day. These sort of coincidences are rather ominous. Last Friday I managed to dodge going to the pub and made up a lame excuse as to why I won’t be drinking with my long term friends. They have pretty much ostracized me since and have treated me like a dangerous non-conformist or some kind of weird freak. When asked what the **** else is there to do on a Friday night I told them I watched TV. It’s not as though I am practicing the ‘Dark Arts’ I don’t summon evil spirits or open portals to evil dimensions. But this made me realize that I really need a hobby. Not one that just fills up time but one that I actually enjoy. In the past I can list my hobbies they total two. Drinking and smoking.

Some guy at work plays that fantasy battle game Warhammer claiming it’s a serious military simulation. He regularly spends his Saturday mornings at the local Games Workshop where he can be seen painting tiny metal balrogs with a group of children, he claims Warhammer is not a hobby, it’s serious and the fantasy context does not appeal to him. The game could represent any theatre of war – it just happens to be populated by highly detailed miniature orcs with hand-painted banners. I try to give him a wide berth.

Then there’s Paul AKA ‘Mr Motivator’ at the office (every office has one), always keen to tell you about their weekend exploits doing things like rock climbing, mountain biking or naked Grizzly Bear wrestling. He’s always telling me about his satisfying weekends of fear and physical discomfort. I can’t believe anyone can enjoy getting up at 6am on a Saturday just so they can drive several hundred miles to haul themselves up a cold, wet, vertical surface. Spending hours checking ropes, nervously looking for things to grab onto, feeling the tendons in their fingers stretch to breaking point…sounds great. I made the mistake of asking him what he enjoys most about it all, he replied – “It’s all good. When you reach the top you get an awesome feeling of still being alive. And your climbing companions will share that feeling, if they are also still alive.”

Do people really do this sort of thing every weekend?