I have something to confess. I am a smoker. I am a smoker who loves smoking. I’ve been smoking since I was about 17 (although not “properly” smoking and inhaling until a couple of years later…). That means that I’ve smoked for the whole of my adult life – more than 20 years.
I. Just. Love. Smoking. If I were a poet, I would write an ode to tobacco. If I were a painter, I would paint someone smoking a cigarette, trying to capture that romantic love of tobacco which occasionally makes itself overtly obvious, and which lurks behind the big knot of personal neuroses the rest of the time. It is part of my very being. My identity relies upon it. My day is imbued with it.
My life wouldn’t be the same without it. I love all of the different forms of smoking: cigarettes, cigars and even the pipe. I love all of the different rituals around smoking: when to smoke, how to smoke, what brand of cigarettes someone smokes. I am fascinated by all of the paraphernalia which accompanies smoking: elegant lighters, sophisticated cigarette cases lovingly crafted from precious metals, rolling tobacco, pipe tampers and cleaning instruments. These are all part of the activity of smoking.
I have tried giving up smoking a few times in the past and always ended up miserable without my cigarettes. I felt lost without them. My brain became foggy. I was unable to concentrate. I seemed to become more stupid without them. I felt like a part of my soul had been removed and I was grieving for my loss. It’s as if cigarettes somehow complete me.
And I’m not ashamed of my love for cigarettes either. I feel no sense of guilt in indulging my senses with a packet of cigarettes. Smoking is one of the new social taboos, frowned upon by righteous health evangelists. I resent other people trying to dictate to me what choices I can or cannot make, and I resent the frowns and snide remarks from disapproving micro-dictators who want to control every aspect of my life. I have made the choice (yes, it’s an informed one and I’m aware of the risks) to smoke. The key point here is that it’s a choice. I don’t enforce my smoking (either active or passive) on others, so what’s the issue?
I know that smoking carries a wide range of health risks, but as my dear old Ma says: “You pick your window, don’t you?”. The Government seems to be trying to reduce the number of adults and young children who smoke, but the fact is that the UK economy would crumble if it weren’t for us smokers. An item in The Spectator last year cited the tax revenue from tobacco to be around £9.3bn, while the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses was around £2.7bn. That’s a net income of £6.6bn into the government’s coffers. Do the politicians really want to go for an outright ban on smoking? I sincerely doubt it.
This points to the suggestion that smoking can be a consciously political act. It is at the same time rebellious (against the anti-smoking campaigners) and conformative (as far as the proceeds of tobacco duty are knowingly paid to HMRC or whichever body is legislated to collect tax on behalf of different Governments). I’m not quite sure whether I’m a rebellious smoker or a conformative smoker. For the moment I’ll just call myself a romantic smoker.
Writing a blog for a newbie isn’t an easy thing to do. That great expanse of white screen which has to be filled with words. What do I write about? Why am I even writing at all? Will anyone else be interested in what I choose to write? These are just a few of the questions facing me as I cut yet another facet into my online existence.
The first reason I wanted to start a blog was to expand upon my twitter feeds (you can follow me at Mr_andy_fereday). I’m a relatively new member of that micro blogging site and while it’s useful for one or two lines of text, anything more than that doesn’t work. I have blogged for a while at Landscape Juice Network, but that started getting too industry-orientated and I’ve not been there for a few years now. I’m full of cold and limited to my bed at the moment, so a blog seemed like a good idea to keep me from interminable boredom.
I suppose on twitter I’ve been trying to focus on some of the interesting aspects of beginning a life in antique collecting and dealing. It’s a relatively new development for me, and I’m definitely still finding my feet in the market. So that’s going to form some of the content of my blog posts in the future. As for the rest of the content? Probably whimsical musings on aspects of modern life, rants about minor trifling hiccups and anything else which springs to mind. I will try to maintain a relatively high standard of writing, but this of course depends on the quantity of wine which has been consumed.
Please feel free to comment on anything you see here, and advice on blogging is always welcome.