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!

20 Days

I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by. I am now on my 20th day of not smoking and also not drinking. It’s Friday already and yet again I am dreading the weekend. Fridays at work used to be quite relaxing, almost therapeutic. I usually spend Friday afternoon avoiding any work that might risk me having to stay any later than four o’clock even though I finish at five. I was going to suggest to my line manager that we accept the utter futility of Friday afternoons and replace the usual routine of doing nothing with something more constructive like art classes or P.E. It’s not that off the wall when you think about it I mean the Japanese do all that Tai Chi or whatever, we could have pottery classes or watercolour lessons, something quintessentially British. I’m sure it will increase productivity.

Anyway I’m getting off the point here. I find my mind wandering a lot lately usually meandering off toward a negative analysis of my life. Any extra time on my hands just seems to be spent anxiously worrying. I still haven’t come up with a weekend pursuit or hobby to look forward to like everyone else seems to have. I may have to make one up. I’m pretty sure everyone lies about how fantastic their weekends are anyway. I overheard Mike in accounts explaining that last weekend he had some friends over to enjoy a dish of char-grilled langoustines and a nice glass of Provencal rose. Utter bull****! I know he spends his Friday nights getting pre-loaded on a bottle of own-brand vodka before going down the Duke of Cumberland to get wasted with his borderline alcoholic mates. I know this because I happen to be one of them!

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?

La La Land!

I know it’s Thursday but I’m not sure what number of days I have remained smoke free for, hang on, I gave up on New Years Day so this must be my 12th day! Wow, I must say I’m feeling a bit better now but I still have really bad cravings, stress, anxiety, confusion, dizzy spells and I’ve developed a few mouth ulcers or cold sores whatever they are. This could be due to the amount of Tangfastics I keep eating. I could fill a nosebag with them and happily munch away all day. They are an excellent remedy to curb my cravings, the sharp pain I get as they dissolve in my mouth and irritate my mouth ulcers takes my mind off the thought of smoking!

With all the extra time on my hands and my desire to distract myself I find myself doing ‘people’ things like engaging in conversations with people who I normally ignore, like work colleagues who share the same office as me. Instead of going for a smoke break I will get up to stretch my legs and wander over to a complete stranger who has been sitting in the office for some 5 or 6 years and introduce myself.

The current topic of conversation among these strangers who occupy the same office as me is La La Land which I thought I knew everything about being so confused and dizzy all the time, but apparently it’s a film! Someone explained to me that it has won Golden Globe awards, has received 11 Bafta nominations and is tipped for Oscars.

It’s one of those big musical numbers about the life of an actor complete with heartbreaking ballads about the struggle to make it in Tinseltown. As a Cornish database administrator  I’m not sure I can identify with those universal themes! It sounds like the sort of film I will go to any lengths to avoid! It’s bound to win everything and the wife will want to see it and even if I dodge it at the cinema it’ll be on streaming or DVD and even if I avoid those it’ll be shown on a plane! This sounds like The Artist all over again! At least when I was smoking I had an excuse to get up and leave the cinema or my own front room!



Nine days in and I buckled!

Nine days in and I gave in, not to smoking or drinking but to nicotine gum and some other fancy gadgets! I was having the weekend from hell. I declined to go down the pub as drinking goes hand in hand with smoking. There was nothing else for it, I had to go to the chemist and buy some nicotine replacement gear. I got gum, patches and two types of spray one of which you stick up your nose and wow was it expensive!

Anyway, I’m going to the stop smoking service as they will prescribe me this stuff rather than having to take out a payday loan to cover the costs. I’m pretty sure I spent what I saved last week on chewing gum, patches and spray etc and I’m using that up pretty damn quick. My morning routine now is rather than get out of bed and have a fag on the toilet, I reach for the spray which gives me a pretty instant hit then it’s some nicotine chewing gum for breakfast which I munch on in the shower. I guess that’s one great thing about giving up smoking, you can get your nicotine fix in the shower! Winning!

The weekend was tough but I made it. Having refused to go down the boozer I was left with a clear head on Saturday morning. This is quite a novelty for me and the extra time I had on my hands was unexpected. I even opted to walk to the shops for my nicotine stuff and wow my head was spinning, I thought I was going to pass out. The pharmacist reassured me that this was also a side effect of quitting and not a brain aneurysm and I didn’t need the air ambulance.

I even went shopping for boring stuff, normally the wife does all that online these days. I never realized just how much time could be spent in a supermarket when you have no intention of buying anything much. My wife asked why I took so long and only returned with a loaf of bread, some crisps and a bulk bag of tangfastics. I explained that I spent an hour in the wine aisle looking at the back of bottles in a desperate attempt to look sophisticated. I read a load of complete nonsense about woody undertones that made me feel both strangely inadequate and incredibly irritated. She looked at the family multi-pack of monster munch I had bought and laughed.