Beating my smoking demons

IT was my mother's idea that I became a journalist. I never had a hankering for the trade, though I've always been a bit nosey. Anyway I became a hack when Sue, my mum who lives in the west of the county and sings in a ladies' Barbershop group, suggested I try writing when I was jobless, homeless and without prospects at the age of 26.

IT was my mother's idea that I became a journalist.

I never had a hankering for the trade, though I've always been a bit nosey.

Anyway I became a hack when Sue, my mum who lives in the west of the county and sings in a ladies' Barbershop group, suggested I try writing when I was jobless, homeless and without prospects at the age of 26.

I think she was desperate.


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Well, I'm 31 now and already lying about my age to strangers, and Sue has had another idea.

“Why don't you give up smoking, its horrid,” she said a week or two before Christmas.

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“Ok I'll give up next week,” I replied.

“Oh no, not before Christmas, it's bad enough without you in a foul mood with no cigarettes. Give up in the new year,” Sue demanded.

And, as I always do what I am told, I gave up on January 2.

No cigarettes for me and though I give up at least once a year I am hopeful I shall not fall off the wagon. I've already been out to the pubs of Ipswich with my tall and attractive teacher friend Lucia, and not given in to temptation.

My editor, who has been a journalist for so long he can remember newsrooms full of typewriters and ashtrays and used to smoke himself, has pledged a hefty pay rise and my own office if I stop successfully (in my dreams).

My colleague Tracey, who I sit next to in the Evening Star newsroom and has never smoked, has offered her support on one condition - I don't get too tetchy.

It is only award-winning journalist and old friend Mark, who lives in West Suffolk and works for a rival publication, who keeps offering me cigarettes and tempting me back into the smoking fold. NO NO NO I say, this boy's not for turning.

So, as those among you who have quit already know, I have to avoid places where I usually smoke

These include:

The pub.

Outdoors.

Indoors.

And the Evening Star car park.

With only the moon and the outer reaches of the solar system left as a truly safe environment for me to be sure I won't be tempted, it's not so easy is it?

But as I head towards my first week anniversary off the fags, I am encouraged by the thought that even plain speaking photographer friend Lucy, who calls a spade a spade and not a cultivator and doesn't really like smoking, has given me her backing.

“Day four,” I proudly announced, “I'm on the patches but I haven't smoked.”

“Well done, now just shut up and get on with it.” she said, economic with her words as usual.

AS regular readers will know one of my New Year's resolutions is to meet/have a gin and tonic with/get invited to Scotland by Camilla of Cornwall.

Apparently, according to my friend Tony who enjoys a drink and a game of bingo, I have missed my chance.

“Oh I meant to say,” he said over a Friday night pint in the Hare and Hounds, in Norwich Road, “I saw your mate Camilla in the kebab shop. She was ordering a chicken shish.”

Typical. If he was telling the truth then I've missed my chance for a worldwide exclusive. I wonder if she had chilli sauce? I bet she did.

N Did you see Camilla in Ipswich? Please tell me I'm not being lied to!

TONIGHT we get back into the stride of gruelling rehearsals.

We've had a break from Titanic, this year's musical theatre offering by the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society of which I am an enthusiastic member, and now its time to start again.

Of course I'm nervous, highly strung at the best of times I've been worrying all day about the impending costume fittings where doyenne of the wardrobe and IODS leading light Pam gets out the trundle wheel and tuts at my Christmas excess.

I was worried that I might have to dance but David the choreographer has assured me he won't be relying on my footwork to carry the show.

And I was looking forward to playing a leading role in the kickline scene as well.

DO you lie about your age?

My hair's receding fast, I've always been a bit portly, I have trouble with my back and now, to cap it all, I'm starting to fall asleep on sofas and in chairs.

One minute I was a 20-something without a care in the world and a spring in my step now suddenly I'm over 30 and I need a lie down if I rush and get out of bed too quickly.

So, in an attempt to forestall the cruel ravages of time, if anyone asks I tell them I'm 29 and I have been for three years now.

That should solve that.

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