Smoke free—a Consummation Devoutly to be Wished


Sure, I smoked


Once. When I was about nine years old and nicked some of my Mum’s fags. It was the done thing at the time, a rite of passage as it were, you weren’t a Man (among boys) if you didn’t smoke.

Of course I got caught.

Did I get spanked? No.

Did I get grounded? No.

Did I get lumbered with the dishes for a month (horrors!)? No … what I got was far worse.

I got a Talking To.

I was talked to by an expert, one that adored her blue-eyed little darli— monster and cared for him without reservations. I stopped immediately, I quit cold turkey (luckily I’d not long been doing it). Other than as many good cigars as you might fit in the top pocket of a well cut suit when I was in the navy (and all the passive smoking I could eat) I haven’t done it since.

In fact, I’ve often wondered why do people do it? In my day it was peer pressure, it was the done thing to have a ciggie either hanging from your head or bouncing skillfully between two fingers—the work breaks in those days were social occasions wherein someone would always crack a packet and offer them around (something you never see smokers do these days) (moderns are a tight-fisted lot).

But despite all the popular anti-smoking rhetoric and current laws people are still taking it up with alacrity and shrill (okay, wheezy) cries of “Devil take the hindmost!”.

So of course I still smoke too. Passively. And I hate it.

They aren’t allowed to smoke on public premises or in the workplace, which still leaves them their own homes (I don’t mind), cars (I don’t mind), or the street itself (I do mind, lots). Often I feel very sorry when I see the netball-mothers delivering their tiny charges to the Saturday game, sweet little moppets emerging from mobile gas-chambers to (get this) indulge in healthy activities.

When walking through our local town or in the Big Smoke itself (Invercargill) one is always confronted with little knots of organic chimneys indulging their guilty habit; furtive lurkers in doorways and alleys, glowing points of shame-faced light in the darkness. Sadly too many of them are high-school kids in uniform paradoxically swaggering along the sidewalks in awkward clouds. That so many of them are female says a lot for the vaunted intelligence of the gentler sex; about par, I’d say—in these days of gender equality women can be just as stupid as men.

Freedom is as freedom does, one can almost hear Forrest Gump saying. I’m with him, and I’d (metaphorically speaking) fight for the right of smokers to pollute. Almost. Given dictatorial powers I’d—

  • make them take out medical/life insurance, and
  • make every last one of them wear a goldfish bowl on their head when smoking in public



Oh no … not me … “Yes, little Virginia?”

“Argus — would you include Winston Churchill’s cigar smoking in that last courageous statement?”

Would I?

Brrrr … luckily for me he’s dead. He’s dead over there and I’m over here—besides whichI don’t have dictatorial powers. Okay, so I’m a wimp, too …

And at a tender age I learned these words (from whatever source), make of them what you will—


Tobacco is a filthy weed

That from the Devil doth proceed—

It stains your teeth and it stains your clothes,

And makes a chimney of your nose!


Good luck. And if you’re worried about your own nine-year-old, don’t be … but to be sure just go have a look under his pillow.




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