by Mistress Justine Brown
They've pushed me too far this time. Who? The government. The British government to be precise, who have just announced that cigarettes can no longer be branded. They outlawed smoking in pubs a while back, and soon no doubt they'll outlaw drinking in pubs as well, for our own good. I blame them-- why not, everybody else does-- and their battalions of finger-waving nannies. I blame them for the state I'm in. (Now there's a nice pun.) And lucky I've got someone to blame for this, 'cause it's pretty darn ludicrous to have to reveal just how very affected I am, and how far I will go in my efforts to look cool. I'm as bad as a teenager. Worse. Yesterday I bought a tin of cigarillos and a cigarette holder. Even had a little puff. My New Near's resolution is to start smoking at last. How ridiculous can one eminently stylish, rakish, devil-may-care gal be?
|Kate Moss. Take that, nanny state!|
In one fell swoop I have crossed the line from tobacco contrarian to smoker (that's all it takes, a couple of puffs and voila!). Yes, for years I have been annoying people with my controversialist ideas on smoking. I get that it's unhealthy; we all do by now. I just don't get why smoking seems to be the one thing that the general public considers to be undeniably sinful. All kinds of foul stuff gets a free pass, but smoking, now there's some serious evil for you. A lot of people seem to really enjoy policing their neighbours. Did you know that the health authorities have outlawed the final cigarette? Yep. Some states practise execution, as we all know. Nowadays, the prisoner can't get a last smoke before he gets the rope, needle or electric chair, not even if the guards take him into the fresh air. Smoking is bad for his health. It could kill him!
I could go on. And on. I've never been a smoker, though all my punk rock friends were. My bedroom looked like a misty moor thanks to them. I know what a smoking habit looks, smells, and tastes like. I used to go hunting for butts in the snow with one particularly desperate friend. We knew all the tricks: hit the bus stops first, for example. So it wasn't hard to resist the cancer sticks. However, those of you who know me have likely heard of my plan to start smoking at sixty. Basically, it was going to be a consolation prize. Okay, I would be wrinkled and raddled, but at least I could distract myself and others with swanky tobacco tricks. But by then, I reasoned, I might have to score my smokes on the black market while the rest of you were buying weed at 7-11. It's looking more and more like I was right: smoking the peace pipe is going to be illegal in pretty short order. That's why I've decided to start now instead.
So I'm stocking up on paraphernalia. I bought my cigarillos at a tobacconist's den near Victoria Station. There were uniformed schoolkids in there buying candy, no doubt lured in by the increasing chic of smoking-- a sense of the forbidden intensified in no small part by the latest edict from on high. The other customer was a plushly dressed business dude, clearly a cigar man. "Hey," I asked brightly, "do you know something about tobacco?"
"Not as much as that gentleman over there does," he replied, indicating the shopkeeper.
"A friend of mine introduced me to pipe tobacco once," I reminisced. "It tasted fantastic. But I don't want to look like Gandalf. I'm looking for a cigarette that actually tastes good."
The fellow allowed as how he didn't smoke cigarettes ("Neither do I!"), but he figured cigarillos would suit a lady. Plus you're not even supposed to inhale them. The shopkeeper showed me a few options. I chose a slim little tin and a properly flamboyant holder. We conversed a bit about his future prospects, which look dim. Every time he opens the paper there's some new bit of bad news for war criminals like himself. A soft-spoken fellow from Pakistan, he looked rather flattened.
Anyway, now I've got my gear. I'm especially pleased with the holder. Now that winter's come and the air is clear, cold and frosty, I can irritate folk by waving it around and generally making like an old hand without even involving tobacco at all. I'll just whip out my holder, take a drag of oxygen, and blow. The temperature will do the rest. I’ll breathe air rings around ‘em. Anyone who wants to duke it out with me over this issue can do it the old-fashioned way. Meet me on Wandsworth Common at dawn. We’ll settle this in a clash of cigarette holders. If you don’t own one, a pencil will do, or perhaps a plastic straw.
Not cool, just stupid? The merest of mindgames? We’re like that, we smokers, with our nasty little toys, our noxious fumes, our fictional scenarios conjured up out of the ether. We like to imagine that we’re wicked. How childish. Just call me Cruella, Cruella de Vil.