Thursday, 9 August 2007

Our gym is rubbish

I went to the gym. Exhaustively. I don't feel any thinner. This is most upsetting. I did a saintly 25 minutes on the cross trainer pushing and pulling and trying to ignore my ex-housemate's voice in my head going "No Kat, the cool down period doesn't actually count towards your total time."

God exercise machines are just so boring. It makes me tempted to fork out £50+ a monthf or Gymbox with their sexy-sounding classes and machines with DVD players attached. Then I remember I'm currently paying £5 a month and am poor anyway and resolve to get thin and rich before I enter Gymbox's glossy chrome and glass doors.

It actively irks me that having got through the craving period of quitting, my body is now telling me that I have to go on a diet as well. Diets are for people with control issues and no taste buds. I have too many taste buds and lack-of-control issues. Exercise it is then. I do hope flyering gets my arse back to its normal size.

Fit or fat

So a funny thing – turns out that smoking really does keep you thin. Either that, or giving up makes you fat. My trousers are buckling. I have a gut. My thighs are gracefully arabesquing out sideways. In short, when I go to lie by a pool in three weeks time, I am going to be the slow, determined walker who has to think about where they put their feet in case they crush a stray child.

Last night, I tried on my swimwear for my post-Edinburgh holiday. It was disastrous. It’s a positive kindness that nobody has to see me naked apart from my mirror which must have the moral fibre on an epic scale not to have cracked in fright.

Iin this case, the cat most certainly cannot have the cream: I’ve been punished for my dithering by a spare tyre that you could throw to swimmers in distress. I genuinely cannot remember a time when I had this much excess poundage lurking around my midriff. Thank Christ for low-rise trousers, anything higher and I’d be constricted to tracksuits. Only I don’t own a tracksuit, so I’d have to go and buy one. Dear God, don’t make me go and have to buy a tracksuit.

I wonder if going to the gym twice today and tomorrow and two weeks of frantic flyering will somehow distract me from food and boredom. It better had – dumpy 5’ girls look cute and voluptuous. Dumpy 6’ girls look like wrestlers.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Willpower, or yellow bellied denial inhabitant

I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet of late. This is because the quitting has actually been going really well. Well – if you count only smoking when in the presence of alcohol and friends who smoke. Which I do. Shut up.

This isn’t even justification for carrying on smoking. I still don’t smoke during the day, but now, if I’m out with friends who smoke then it will usually take at least three drinks before I can be tempted outside. That’s a good two hours of willpower right there people. I've also stopped thinking about them. I don't carry "in case" cigarettes anymore which means that in smokers terms I'm down in the scum pool with all the other people "who don't smoke but maybe just one thanks".

I managed nearly 10 years of smoking practically every day without being physically addicted. While I would turn into a nervous nicotine-craving wreck at the merest sniff of a gin and tonic, lunch or coffee with friends, it was what the cigarettes represented than what they were. Emphysema and a conspiratorial chat, evidently.

The idea of giving up cigarettes entirely was, if I’m honest, never totally likely. Unless I cut out people, friends and being sociable altogether which, as someone who is consistently voted most talkative in that infernal Facebook comparison widget, is about as likely as the tooth fairy.

It would be nice for the world to be black and white but then, as we’re constantly being told this week, grey is the new colour for autumn. As is yellow, clearly.

Monday, 30 July 2007

False marriage and Matthieu Kassovitz

My adopted husband went to the Secret Garden Party this weekend. I don't know what sort of secrets they hid there, but the Husband, already one of the kindest and most generous human beings in existence, must have had his superpowers amped up considerably because he’s turned into a sort of Cumbrian Godfather.

Adopted Husband: you there kat?
AH: have an offer you can't refuse

Kat: yes

AH: well, I don't want you t quit quitting
because i like yuou

Kat: :)

AH: and I don't want you die of cancer
so - I am offering to fund all the lollipops you need
or chewing gum
or whateverhelps you not smoke

Kat: bless you!
how lovely is my husband?

AH: extreamly

Kat: um, chocolate and money helps me not smoke?
Diamonds, too
oh, and cars

AH: yeah yeah
calming chupachups?
or the real ones?

Kat: actually, I found that just not drinking helps me not smoke
nah, chupa chups are too much like smoking

AH: very much so aparently

Kat: I get on absolutely fine as long as I don't drink
but thank you so much - that's really beyond amazing.

AH: its an open offer, not without limits on funding, but if you do find sometihing that helps, let me know, and I shall provide

Kat: AH, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever offered me

AH: now - i've got a day off and intend to watching La Haine and not doing a lot :)

Kat: thank you
oh amazing!

Kat: mathieu kassovitz would help me stop smoking

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Smug bastard ex-smokers

I don't want to be one of these. Unless I've done particularly well at something and want a prize à la three-year-old child, smugness is something that should be resigned to the corridors of history along with all the other new parents who've managed to achieve what animals have done for light years but just know they've done better by producing the miracle that is young Jamie.

Similarly, smug ex-smokers are one of the worst things about smoking. Particularly the wafters - I can't bear those and always had to fight the urge to grab their furiously waving hand and punch them in the face with it.

Unfortunately it seems that there's an alternative peril to smug ex-smokers, and that's the awe that giving up inspires. I took my friend Issy to watch Amy Winehouse give a gratuitously unbothered performance at Somerset House last week and afterwards we went for drinks and food on plush sofas at the afterparty on Embankment.

Dropping her off at the tube afterwards, I asked her if she'd given up smoking as I hadn't seen the slightest sign of a Marlboro menthal all evening.

"Oh no," she said, looking slightly panicked, "I've been dying for one for hours, but you've been doing so well I didn't want to tempt you."

I hate myself all over.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Off for a bit

I have horrid tales to tell. When I'm back.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Quitters who can't be arsed

My boss emailed all the pariahs to say that unless people actually turned up, the Friday sessions, they’d be cancelled. Apparently, while I was smoking myself into an ecstatic reverie at Latitude, only one person bothered to seek support from Our Lady of Quitting, Carmen.

“It could have been just a bad week with people on leave,” he said optimistically, probably thinking the same thing as me: a load of guilty people closeted away with a lighter and 20 Bensons. Sad.

Anyway, I’m back on the support sessions now I don’t have rehearsals or overwhelming cider abuse to use as an excuse. I feel a bit apprehensive actually. Taking a quitting class feels a bit like doing a small course at university and I don’t want to let the teacher down. I’d rather get a gold star and a lollipop than a sigh of supportive disappointment. Then again, maybe Carmen’s dishing out the Chupa Chups on the sly. Sweet.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Friday I'm in love with fags

Cigarettes smoked: too fucking many. Cigarettes enjoyed: none. Cigarettes actually remember smoking: 3. Guilt levels: immense.

I had hypnotherapy to quit smoking on Thursday. I got full marks! I failed entirely on hypnotherapy! More on the actual hypno soon.

Blame festivals. Blame stress levels. Blame cider. Blame anything that isn't me and my dubious attitude to willpower.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Quitting aid test: Shameless pampering

Since I stopped sucking on nicotine’s cold hard kiss, I’ve felt fucking dreadful. I’ve got a spot breakout threatening to devour the universe and a throat that hasn’t felt so unloved since I last attempted to hit top G.

Free makeovers, the usual cheer-up mechanism that isn’t chocolate, are a tricky field to navigate. If you need to feel good, you’re pretty much guaranteed to come out glowing like a nuclear satsuma or eyebrows modelled on Rosa Klebb, whereas if you’re not bothered then swanking down a street without any plans has never felt so divine. From the pallid miserable thing that greeted me in the mirror last Wednesday morning, it’s clear that a trip to Mac isn’t going to solve anything, which is why I’m currently thanking the God of Hotmail that I caught an invitation to a Febreze launch and free facial at the Berkeley hotel for that day (tenuous reasoning: Febreze masks smells, therefore smoke and therefore ex-smoke).

My face was peeled, masked, cleansed, toned, serum’d and moisturised. I glowed, not like a bionic fruit, but like someone who’s just been pampered and product-place-preached at to within an inch of her life. I floated down to the Febreze presentation with their PR, grinning like someone who’s bathed in orgasms, grabbed a smoothie, and then noticed that the entire room had been paved with Astroturf and the ratio of PRs to me was high enough to ensure rave reviews at OFSTED.

“It’s all about natural scents,” said the blonde PR, brandishing a bottle of something blue and explaining why there were paper flowers all over the fake grass. “Febreze has combined air freshener with neutraliser to make something that you’d actually want to spray in your room, and it gets rid of the hardest smells.”I don’t know about you, but Febreze, despite smelling like a clinically bleached armpit, was my right-hand man throughout university. I didn’t know a single student cliché who didn’t have a bottle squirrelled away somewhere to waft around manically when your parents visited.

This is where the dreamy bliss I’d developed post-facial started to evaporate. The PR took a little bottle off the table and put a few drops of liquid on it. Even without sniffing it directly I could tell it had come from a fish with BO issues, but I had to sniff it directly, as I generally say yes to anything when I’m in a luscious hotel being spoiled.

I was handed over to PRs 3, 4 and 5, who I half-expected to go into their dance but instead strapped my hand into something metallic to measure my stress levels. They then lowered a paper maché ball over my head and wafted in the fish BO without warning. My stress levels went fucking ballistic. Then they sprayed in the Febreze. Rather than smelling of actual Febreze, which would probably have served only to make me taciocardic, a nice calm smell of cotton promptly took all the fish out.

So now I have a lovely skin, I didn’t really want to go around putting smoke in my pores. I didn’t touch my face for hours after I got home in case I dislodged an enzyme. Even better, I got a nice goodie bag of Febreze things to take home with me and our flat smells of nothing horrible which is the biggest stress-reliever there is.

Quitting score: 7/10

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Quitting Aid Test: Distractions

Drinking leads to smoking. As I’m giving up smoking, I need to find something to distract me from the times when the occasional half a shandy leads me to prolonged bouts of jollity and thus dreamy thoughts of nicotine. As I still haven’t got around to learning how to knit, ordering Alan Carr’s magical book, or tying my hands in intricate knots, they’ve been decidedly make-shift, but make-shift is cool now so that's alright.

- Gossip. Hearing that your beloved but commitment-phobic friends are either thinking of moving in with their loved ones, or going out with someone mentally stable and their age, or that someone is planning to jump off cliffs in reverse is pretty much guaranteed to keep your brain occupied just long enough for the craving to pass.

- Scrabble.
Specifically, Jewish-enabled beginner Scrabble that allows most words as they look vaguely right. This is both relaxing and enjoyable and again, stops you from smoking even when you’ve gone so far as to pull the table away from the window in order to find somewhere to lean from. (Facebook Scrabble is less of a calming influence when playing people who manage to find words like MAYO, ETA or WITTOLS that are apparently factually accurate. Ffs. Mayo is an abbreviation and eta just pissed me off.)

- Laziness.
Reading Harry Potter while your housemate does the cleaning is both calming and necessary. Plus, even if he can’t load the dishwasher, he does at least know what the squiggly signs on the oven mean.

- Cooking.
My housemate, despite being a son of the greatest culinary nation on the planet, can only cook one thing. Two, if you count noodles from a packet. Seeing the joy on his face as he put the finishing touches to sausages and mash brought a tear to my eye, although that was probably just because I did all the boring preliminary bits like scrubbing the potatoes and he got to add the cheese.

- Eating. This week’s food fetish is good old Sun Maid raisins, although I doubt you’re supposed to eat quite this many.

Pints drunk: 2
Glasses of wine: 3
Cocktails: 4
Cigarettes: 0
Calories: I'm not Bridget Jones and I don't fucking care.

Quitting score: 10/10

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Pubs: now a little bit rubbish

Having smugly promised myself that I would become a virtuous hermit and spend my non-smoking time reading bracing Russian literature instead of skulking in the pub, I fell into the blissful clutches of failure and went to the Southwark Tavern instead.

The weather clearly thought that this was a crap idea and pissed all over my overly-optimistic summer outfit meaning that if I hadn't wanted a cigarette when I left work I was bloody ravenous for one by the time I got off the Tube.

The rain had sobered up by the time I picked my way through the smokers loitering outside. I don’t know if it’s the end of the working day, or the fact it wasn’t raining, or the sweet little posters the pub had made for smokers nipping outside (see above), but they were all looking remarkably cheery, possibly because there wasn't any ostentatious wafting coming from the ubiquitous pub funsponge.

On managing to wrench a pint out of the clutches of the suicidally bored barman, I noticed the atmosphere, or rather, didn’t. Pubs are relentless places after work, the typically British thing of racing each other to see who can relax the fastest, and without the smokers to smother everyone else into a united front of chuntering outrage it was running off the rails. Anticipation hung everywhere like a particularly vile case of BO. I bet there’s been a fight somewhere.

The weird thing with bars now is that you can smell everything. At a City pub on a Monday, this could probably only have been made worse by rubbing my face directly into someone’s armpit. It reeks of desperation. Re-applied perfume wrestled with body spray, and sweat from a hundred meetings. The thoughtfully-placed flowers downstairs were a sweetly refreshing reminder of what noses can be used for, until the overpowering scented candle alongside smacked it back down.

Still, my tastebuds are certainly coming back. Fruli is fucking disgusting.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Boiled sweets and smoking theories

I would quite like a cigarette right about now please.

Boozefags aside, I've managed to go a week without smoking. I've eased off on the binge eating, turning instead to raisins and glasses of water. I've survived missing my quitters support group and thus the ritualistic holding of hands, drinking of tea, hearing what other people have been up to. It's been suspiciously quiet on the "support network" email front. Either everyone's quietly started smoking again, or there's a riot happening and nobody told me about it. Carmen struck me as the subtle type.

Obviously I'm now coming to the customary stage of any new fad endorsed by me where the shine's worn off and I'm not being praised enough. I'm meeting a friend in the pub later and unless the journey is unstressful (unlikely) and the gin is cheap (is the Southwark Tavern a Sam Smiths?) I'll either want to eat the curtains or surreptitiously roll up a cigarette. So much for avoiding drink, my smoking link up: I live in the pub. Or cocktail bar. Or gigs with attached pub/bar. Or screenings with free bar. It's too rude to turn all that down.

A quitting story courtesy of the delightful Carole on Journobiz.

"My Dad used to give up every few years - and just as abruptly start again - I mean if you don't smoke for 14 or 15 months, what, then, makes you start again?

His health is very poor now (he has Parkinsons) so hasn't smoked for about 20 years.

We always knew if he was giving up - his car would fill with bags and bags of boiled sweets. He also used to get very ill - his theory was that the smoke stopped him breathing in live germs ('cause the smoke killed them off before they could attack his body!). Not only cold turkey, but a whole succession of colds!"

My favourite bit of advice from Carole was to treat myself to a bunch of flowers: "They're non-fattening and you will be able to smell them properly."

Two and a half cigarettes (oops)

I spent most of Saturday drunk. Deliciously, wilfully drunk. This is not a way of giving up smoking as far as I can tell, but it did mean that I had a bloody wonderful time at the Tories and Champagne wedding fest. The bride looked stunning and did that strange glowing thing that people do when happy. There were people I knew there, which doesn't happen often at weddings. I was asked to dance by men who were not related to me. I had one and a half cigarettes.

This isn't failure (although, actually, I suppose it is). Given the amount of booze, food and general bonhomie around I would usually have smoked upwards of 30.

Reasons to smoke at garden parties include:

- Drinking
- Talking
- Walking
- Speeches
- Catching your heel in the mud/grass/somebody's skirt and becoming deeply annoyed as a result.
- The terminally dull person
- Post-dinner
- During-dinner
- The passing of time

Luckily there weren't any dull people there, and time passed itself quite happily. I had a whole cigarette after dinner because I thought I'd enjoy it, so there. And I did. I smoked it all the way to the end rather than getting bored and ditching it after a few drags, savouring the smoke through the benevolent haze of wine and liberated Champagne, and went and sat down again. It was good. I had a couple of drags off someone's cigarette later because they insisted on calling me Tiffany. I went and danced with my brother who'd just done his first obligatory man-at-weddings dancing with 7-year-old schtick, and a little gang of us went wild, sans-fags until a car came to remove us, Cinderella style.

There was a cigarette last night as well after my flatwarming. Jim came round as most people were drifting off and we sat about drinking wine and chatting. I got a bit tearful and this time did employ a roll-up as an emotional prop. But it was with Jim, not the ex. Which makes it alright I suppose.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Emotional Props

Last night, 1am, the classic time for a "fuck it, I need it" cigarette. I'd spent three hours on and off sparring with my now definitely ex-boyfriend, during which time he'd decided to sharpen every verbal weapon in his possession to a uniform state of bluntness and generally employ the textual equivalent of throwing me down stairs. How charming.

I wandered into the living room where my housemate was locked into the new Harry Potter game, fell into a glass of wine and his shoulder respectively and somewhere through the haze of panic, shaking and absolute fury, my selves had a little chat.

"Oh. How sad. You should probably have a cigarette."

"Shut up fuck face, I don't want one"

"But you're in emotional turmoil, this is the standard time to be having cigarettes."

"Yes, but this isn't exactly new territory with this manboy and I'd rather fall over a hurdle for a Gin Fizz."

"Loser. Go and cry on your housemate again."

I didn't have a cigarette. I did cry on my housemate. I did tell the ex to fuck off and manipulate someone else's life. I went to sleep without a cigarette.

After two hours manhandling a Harry Potter branded trunk for my cousin and a vast suitcase of crap across town and country, I arrived chez parents. I promptly inhaled two gin and tonics and two glasses of my dad's latest criminally cheap buy, a three quid Côtes du Rhône from Tesco that tasted of joy. Still don't want a fag. My mother has issued a decree that "WE don't really NEED to smoke anymore now, do WE" (free will is optional thanks to the sheer power wielded by my mother's cooking).

Now I'm busy making gooseberry jam and learning Woman things, while the sounds of my mum and grandma's "Aaaaaaah"s "Ooooooh"s and disappointed abuse at the Wimbledon semis floats through the door. The Champagne and Tories wedding party this evening signals my first party/smoking environment since last weekend. This is going to be either my greatest success, or my greatest failure.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Boozember 1

Oops. Last night I drank for the first time since quitting. I'd been trying to put off this moment for, well, a bit longer than four days, because to me booze and cigarettes go together like Elizabeth Taylor and poor choice in husbands.

Oh come on, it wasn't my fault. As well as working this week, I've been wading through the fucking retarded idiots who use the Central and Bakerloo lines at 5.45 in order to get up to Slough to spend a further 4 hours rehearsing a play for the Edinburgh Fringe with my friend Charlotte.

After three hours of high blood pressure we sank into a sofa and absorbed a bottle of very good red to steel ourselves for another 11 hours today. I had the worst night's sleep I've had in years.

Seriously, I dreamed about cigarettes. About rolling cigarettes. I dreamed I was back where we'd been drinking, holding my wine in one hand and leaning out of the window and smoking. I could smell it, but more than that I felt the leathery smell of guilt everywhere. I'd failed. The cigarette was gone, and all that was left was failure and a sore throat.

I was fairly glad to wake up with no voice and an inexplicably bruised foot. Charlotte got off worse, waving the kettle in at me wildly and telling of having woken at 3am by her vast antique door being banged open by the wind and being convinced she was being burgled. When even Radio 4 can't get you back to sleep, you're fucked. We turned up at rehearsal like zombies. Eurgh.

Tomorrow I head back to my parents for a wedding party. There will be Champagne. There will be Tories, smoking fags. There will be my brother, smoking fags. Be still my beating willpower: I'm not having dreams like that again thanksverymuch.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Quitting Aid Test: Chupa Chups Relax

Goodies arrive in the post this morning, and with good timing. I feel cranky, fat and sick as a dog.

Chupa Chups Relax are sugar-free (thank GOD) and are plastered with anti-smoking advice and quitlines and logos.

Poncy things noticed thus far:

- Flip top box. Because smokers can’t tell the difference between cigarettes and lollipops.
- It has the word Relax written on it in big letters. I loathe being patronised, especially by boxes of sweets.
- Size. These lollipops are incredibly, microscopically small. I distrust small lollipops. You could choke on them, and half the fun is eroding them down.
- Flavour. I like my lollies to be strawberry, cola, or chocolate and vanilla. Not Citrus flavours with extracts of lemon balm and lime blossom. For fuck’s sake.
- There are only six yet are in a packet the size of 20 Marlboros. Couldn’t they have stuck some extra in upside down?

Everyone gets very hopeful about getting a lolly of their own but is put off by the size and weird flavour. Rightly so. The smallness means I feel like I’m sucking on one somebody else had earlier. The McHerbal flavour is basically orange and lime, although not according to the packet.

While they do indeed contain lemon balm (0.1%), lime blossom only turns up if it’s linden blossom (0.1%) while the citrus flavours actually consist of concentrated fruit puree (apple, cherry, raspberry, pineapple, lime, lemon, strawberry, peach, banana, orange, blueberry, blackberry, mango, watermelon and kiwi). Mmmm, citrusy goodness indeed.

Ironically, by the time I’ve finished the lollipop I’m dying for a cigarette. This is down to the stick, one of those hollow ones, and the little shard of pop still on it gives a delightful amount of pull which means I turned up to lunch at the Fat Man Pancake House looking like a four-year-old addict.

One of my fellow quitters just nipped upstairs to get one and was also disappointed by their size. “The strawberry and cream sugar-free ones are better,” she advised. “And at least you can see them.”

Quitting score: 4/10

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Binge eating. Stop the binge eating.

News in April: 'Gisele Bundchen has put on 15 lbs since giving up smoking. The Brazilian supermodel says she is enjoying food so much more since kicking her habit.

She revealed: "When you stop smoking you gain weight because food tastes better than when it tasted like an ashtray."'

This is, of course, balls. You eat more because you need to keep yourself occupied and not thinking about inhaling, holding or buying, and you do that by eating obscene amounts of shite.

I actually can't eat any more food, but I can't stop. Maybe my body's blurred by the fact it was lady week recently, a time when I traditionally slump on the sofa and inhale whatever my body craves, but it's carried on and on and fucking Ariston.

Junk food I've eaten since Sunday:
- One packet of fruit Clubs
- Seven Frubes (frozen)
- Two bowls of Weetos
- Some dried apricots
- Leftover fudge I hadn't bothered cleaning up after Glastonbury
- Two packets of Munchies
- Toffee Crisp
- Three Krispy Kremes
- Twister
- Calippo (doesn't count, it's traditional summer breakfast)

I am a human rubbish bin. now I see why food diaries are so effective when dieting. It's like an autopsy of how thoroughly disgusting one human being can be.

Yesterday I had rehearsals in Windsor for a play I'm in at the Edinburgh Festival. Charlotte had brought Krispy Kremes along ("I'm not hungry", I say before proceeding to eat two).

"You're going to get very, very fat if you carry on like this," she said conversationally. Seeing as I'm playing someone who's supposed to be very thin due in no small part to the fact that she's dying, this isn't helpful. And more to the point, I'm supposed to be getting healthier by giving up smoking, not morbidly obese.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Bored already

Quit day was Sunday. I keep reminding myself of this because days, dates and maths have never been my strong point. I am officially a quitter, an ex-smoker. More to the point, I am a quitter with an incredibly sore throat which seemed very unfair. What is this? I should be running 3 minute miles, not mainlining Strepsils.

The last few days in between work, I’ve mostly hidden away in my flat watching films and eating Club biscuits, hiding from the cravings I know are just waiting for me. I expect to get very, very fat in the next month and wallow on the beach like some kind of bouncy castle, albeit one with amazing lung capacity. “Remember, each cigarette is a habit,” boomed Carmen from inside my head. “Find out when you are likely to have a cigarette and do something else instead.”

For me, it’s socialising and boredom. Yesterday I managed to unchain myself from the protective shelter of my sofa for an hour to explore the Regents Canal and managed to suppress any desire for cigarettes by staying well clear of the pub and eating frozen Frubes instead.

It’s very much the calm before the nicotine-laced storm. I feel like I’m limbering up for a marathon, or how anyone stupid enough to run a marathon might feel: extremely on edge and slightly panicky. I’ve cancelled all invites, plans and fun to stay in the house this week, but some point a gig will turn up, and I associate gigs with smoking (an amazing way to look interested when watching suicidally awful support bands) while Saturday holds a mandatory wedding party that will test my ability to hide in cushions to its absolute limit. The blessèd Carmen says I should get an inhalator to have something to fiddle with.

“You realise they taste of herpes?” said one friend distressingly (and God I hope imaginatively). “How ironic, and just when your taste buds are coming back to full power.”

What I wanted to say was, “Actually Brian, by the time I emerge from my self-imposed hibernation I imagine everyone in town will be chewing on them like Mars Bars,” but all that came out was Club crumbs. Three days down, now it’s just the rest of my life to go – nothing like baby steps.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Out with a whimper

Last week my various smoking covens commiserated the smoking ban, through the medium of smoking as many cigarettes as possible. Guy was apoplectic that his art school was offering NHS courses (“It’s amazing how they won’t tell you how to register with a doctor but they will attempt to make close to 5000 starving art school kids give up the one thing which is keeping them thin and from fainting”) while Antonia The Manic Photographer cheered me up no end by saying how she used to chat up pilots on long-distance flights in order to sneak a cigarette in the cockpit. I didn’t enjoy any of my cigarettes like I used, to which reminded me why I was hanging up my membership to this delicious club.

On Friday I had had my first NHS quitters’ class with a formidable lady called Carmen and a roomful of depressed looking soon-to-be ex-smokers. A study by Aces Royal showed that redheads are 30% likely to choose a year of smoking over a year of quitting courses and if there’s anything more likely to make me dig my heels into the ground, it’s a crap statistic. “People who find giving up hard tend to give up properly. Don’t cut down,” Carmen barked, somewhat to my surprise. “Just smoke, smoke, smoke right up til you quit or you’ll want it even more.”

This all sounded very sensible in the harsh light of 9.30am, a time when I can barely see let alone smoke, but less so at 10.30pm when I was sitting in Kilburn trying to mourn the passing of indoor smoking with the tail end of my hangover. So much for indoors. My friend’s migraine meant we sat outside in the fancy new smoking shelter before tottering same friend home half an hour later. I ended up celebrating my new-found ex-smokerdom on the Tube, rather like New Year, only less soul-destroying. Oh goodie.

Saturday, 30 June 2007


Sod’s law aside, the secret to giving up smoking at first, seems to be to get a massive, brain-crankingly unpleasant hangover. Who knew? Well, me and everyone who’s ever had to hug a teapot for 24 hours after getting carried away with their good friends Gordon and Smirnoff. It only really hit me on Friday, after some friends dragged me from the peaceful 12A nature of post-Harry Potter screening cocktails to the 18 environs of Greenwich after midnight. Nobody does debauchery like the leafy suburbs. Having been really rather good with my cig-free Potter friends, I proceeded to smoke my little brain out until 7am, at which point I crawled to the television and watched Clueless very quietly.

Friday, 29 June 2007

How not to do it

Those of my friends who aren't laughing their heads off at the thought of me managing to somehow disengage cigarettes from the idea of gin/coffee/days of the week have plenty of encouraging advice, ranging from the predictable ('Chew gum, twiddle your hair, whatever works'.) to the wrong side of unhelpful ('Douse yourself in petrol. That'll make you think twice about lighting up'.)

One unusually healthy journo friend suggested replacing the nicotine buzz with another high. 'It doesn't have to be drugs, of course,' he said, helpfully. 'It could be happy slapping or going on the dodgems, or clubbing seals'.

The main thing I'm worried about in the first week of quitting is that I always want what I can't have. Unlike those controlfreak bastards who claim to have quit through 'mind over matter', I have the willpower of a peanut. I once made the somewhat dubious mistake of attempting to give up chocolate for Lent. It lasted all of 30 minutes before the idea of no chocolate for a month sent me into petrified chase of an armful of Snickers.

Still, as of Sunday it'll be goodbye lung rape and hello healthy non-dependent Kat. Or something. I'm going to learn willpower even it kills me. Right after I've given up smoking. God, wouldn't that be ironic?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

No more nicotine queen

I'm bored of smoking. Isn't that terrible? I feel disconcertingly like I've just slagged off my best friend. Smoking got me through every exam I've taken since I was 16. I've had relationships (short ones, obviously) where the sex has run a close second to the joys of sharing a post-coital fag. I owe it something other than stained fingers and an operatically rasping cough, surely?

Well, that's what I thought at Glastonbury when my empty Marlboro packet was being used as a very chic if utterly useless rainhat. Really I don't owe it anything. Smoking sucks now. Everyone's physically addicted, nobody relishes the cigarette/post-work drink combination anymore, it's all so pathetically needy. I haven't actually enjoyed it the way I used to in ages: I've been socially addicted to the things for nearly 10 years now and I'm bored of waking up in the morning with a throat that feels like it's been done over by Edward Scissorhands. I get ill, I feel sick, I'm bored of handing over cigarettes for people who can make millefeuille but can't roll a fag.

I adore making lists, so it's been no end of joy writing up all the things I've thought of to help me give up. Some of the vaguely more reasonable ideas including doing more exercise (passing time spent smoking), watching an entire season of television (ditto), getting a load of patches, avoiding the pub (boo, but totally necessary) and throwing my housemate out of the window unless he stops shouting 'OH SWEET NICOTINE' from his bedroom.

I've even joined my quitters' group at work (dreadful: I feel like I'm signing up to Pariahs Weekly) and I expect there will be patches and motivational talks. I imagine it'll be a bit like being a reprogrammed Scientologist, when everything you knew before was WRONG, but instead of getting exciting facts involving volcanoes and lizards you get clean-smelling clothes, the ability to run five steps without falling into a coma, and an extra octave in your singing voice. (Join me in this, won't you? Oh go on, I need the company.)