annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Might as well rain until September, September

Couldn't get on the internet last night, most annoying as I came up quite early full of things to say, which have all melted away now.

Today has been long and demanding - counselling, always takes it out of me, then singing at the recovery centre, which was mixed - I loved being able to sing out loud in a group of people again but had forgotten that the woman who leads the singing isn't all that good with mental health folk and there were some challenging behaviours today. Not everyone has a sense of what is and isn't appropriate, which I find relaxing as I don't have to worry, but... ah well. We all sang good and loud. My choices from our songbook were 'Moon River' and 'Blowing in the Wind' but I also enjoyed 'It might as well rain until September' which rattles along at a good speed, and 'Abide with me' which made me cry, but I didn't mind.

Then on to Younger Daughter's to try to help her sort out her Housing Benefit - awful, difficult, frustrating, distressing, unfinished. So let's not dwell on that.

I'd just like to say, fuck Back to the Future. Enough already. We know. It's mildly interesting for a moment but we've done all this before, several times. Like all through 1984.

I'm going to write my 'homework' for the CBT stop smoking thing here. Exercise 1 was to make a list of all the reasons I give (or have ever given) myself for smoking, no matter how nonsensical. Did that on paper. Exercise 2 is to describe your first cigarette and the feelings around the whole experience of becoming a smoker and to continue on to becoming an addict. Include all the good times you've had, he says, as if I wasn't smoking most of the time I was awake for the last fifty years.

So. First week at boarding school, age 11. Weekly boarding for about sixty of us aged 11-18 who lived further than 25 miles away from the school. Scary. Always aware that with me out of the way, what remained at home was a proper nuclear family - father, mother, daughter, son. At the boarding house the group of second year girls gathered us first year girls into the downstairs toilet and showed us how to smoke. I don't remember having considered smoking in relation to myself before then, but it was long ago, so who knows. It made us all cough, but it seemed like something I was going to do. I spent all my pocket money on fags (Players No 6) and smoked at every opportunity. Although I didn't articulate it as such, I made it my 'thing'. I'd ask to leave a lesson to go to the toilet so I could smoke half a fag. Break and lunchtimes spent in the bike sheds with a bunch of older lads who were quite dismissive of me, but I pretended they weren't and that we were pals. I think I pretended to be addicted, thinking I wasn't, that it was all for show and that I'd stop when I wanted to but that meanwhile it was something I could cling to, commit to. And it felt cool, sophisticated, adult. A bit tough as well. Later, until very recently in fact, I enjoyed the 'breakfast of champions' - three fags and a strong black coffee - and the toughness associated with that. A bit Lily Savage.

I don't remember noticing that I really was addicted until I was pregnant with ED. Till then fags were always available - everyone smoked so I could always cadge a few if I ran out, but I was organised about it and didn't let that happen often. Stopping smoking when pregnant was 'advised' in 1978, in a very half-arsed way. You could still smoke everywhere, including the hospital. At the ante-natal clinic there were seats set out in a nice shady place, with ash-trays, so that's where we sat and chatted and smoked. I stopped, but got very agitated. I remember going to a Dr's appointment and he asked what was the matter. When I told him I'd stopped smoking but felt very tense he told me to smoke and that being so uptight would cause far more damage to the baby than smoking. It did leave a lingering anxiety - three of the best smokes ever were the first one after each childbirth, totally guilt free. When I was in labour with YD, having a home birth, the midwife and I actually shared a cigarette, both promising not to tell the doctor.

I don't know that I have any 'romantic' or 'exciting' memories of smoking, as it became too ordinary, unnoticeable, but when I was training to be a teacher and non-smokers were gaining some clean air rights, I was really glad to spend my breaks in the small, smokers' staffroom, squished up amongst interesting characters from right across the school, not just lurking with the English department. There was, and probably still is, a camaraderie amongst smokers who are forced to smoke somewhere else; bonds are formed across lines of hierarchy. Secrets are shared, favours done. As a supply teacher it was brilliant, instant connection with someone.

Well, that's all I got on that.

They're still blethering on about Back to the poxy Future all over the TV and internet, but now I can at least say that I'm pleased to see Michael J Fox is still with us. I know it's not MS that he has, but it's some kind of fucking awful degenerative disease that arrives in adulthood so yay for him, still up and at 'em.

Today I am grateful for: singing; YD's husband being such a kind man; kind words from over the seas; pie for dinner, very comforting; feeling positive about the stop smoking programme

Sweet dreams, dear peeps xxx

12:47 a.m. - 22.10.15


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