Heavy Breath

I woke up one morning and couldn’t breathe so I decided I’d stop smoking. I mean, what sort of fucking idiot kippers his lungs so completely that he spends a good quarter of an hour every single morning choking and wheezing before he can even sit up straight? So, I woke up one morning and couldn’t breathe and that’s why I decided to stop smoking.

Except that’s not quite true. I woke up every morning with air squealing out of me as if I were a damp accordion. I don’t know why this particular morning my resolution not to buy a packet of fags held. I smoked my last cigarette that morning and haven’t lit up since. I’d tried almost every day not to smoke but the habit was so ingrained the words “And ten Superkings” would fall out of my mouth at the kiosk almost without me noticing. The ten little ciggies would disappear in several puffs of carcinogenic smoke quite quickly, sometimes one after another in a chain so I’d need to get more a couple of hours later.

This little ciggie was smoked in the car, this little ciggie was smoked alone. This little ciggie made me cough like a dog, but this little ciggie did not. And this little ciggie made me wheeze, wheeze, wheeze all the way home.

I must have smelled at times like a working man’s club on a Sunday morning: stale beer and mucky ashtrays with tangs of sweat and desperation. All the Trebor in the world couldn’t have fooled anyone into thinking I was living a minty-fresh life. I kidded myself that they would. Smoking gave me other health problems. Acid reflux ate my insides. I was downing antacids like Shane McGowan went through Martini. All the time I was telling myself that I could stop smoking any time but I was enjoying it so much.



Waking up in the night because stomach acid was wandering round my body getting into places it really shouldn’t. Getting my morning workout from a coughing fit. Spending money I couldn’t really afford on things I knew would kill me.

Really. I enjoyed it all.

The iconography of the cigarette is so strong and I bought into it all. Think about Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart. Now, imagine Bette heaving her guts up every morning or Bogie downing a Gaviscon slammer. Doesn’t really work does it? What about the Marlboro cowboy searching his chaps for his inhaler?

I’ve been thinking about all of this today because I died on my arse last night. A pyramid session will do that do you. 1 x 6:00, 2 x 3:00, 3 x 1:00, 2 x 3:00, 1 x 6:00; it’s a bit of a killer. You need to bring your fast legs and your best lungs and I had neither. I had my usual kippered lungs and well-fucked legs. I raced twice last week, once over 5k and once over a half marathon and I am battered to bits.

So, I’m still abusing my body but nobody is telling me not to any more. That has to be progress.

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