The Smoking Creature From the Black Lagoon

‘I have a present for you’, she trills brightly, and with a flourish places a small plastic bag on my upturned palms. ‘I think it’s time, don’t you?’, she says smiling.

I take it out of the bag. It’s a book in a glossy white cover with even glossier salient writing. The title makes my heart sink: ‘QUIT SMOKING TODAY without gaining weight’. Beneath the writing is a picture of the author, peering smugly at me behind designer frame spectacles. His arms are crossed challengingly, lips slightly pursed which could be interpreted as either a faint smile of encouragement or the admonishing and disdainful look reserved for the inferior, the addicted.

I recognise him as Paul McKenna, the hypnotist, and the image of otherwise ordinary folk on all-fours lifting a leg and barking like dogs on a stage for the benefit of a TV audience immediately pops into my head. Attached to the back cover is a hypnosis CD. I look up at her pretending not to understand. Like the author, she has her arms crossed too, but more defiantly, a look which tells me this is a non-negotiable deal.

‘I don’t need a book to quit smoking! I’ve done it before without it. All I need are nicotine patches’, I say, and can’t hide the childish pleading tone from my voice. ‘I got some of them too. Two weeks’ worth to get you going’, she says and tosses the boxes in my direction. She spins on her heels and leaves the room.

‘Fine! But if I turn into a big elephant it’s your fault!’, I shout pathetically towards the hallway, but she’s pretending not to listen. The cat gives me a dirty look and follows her out, letting me know in which side of the political divide he stands.

A pretty ungracious response then to what is clearly an act of love and concern for my wellbeing, and I know it. The nicotine talking, I console myself. What is it about addictive substances which places a little devil firmly on our shoulder and immediately promotes him to chief PR advisor? In no time he has taken us over, dictating his own agenda, turning us into his PR people. Yes, I have become the servant of that devil, the creature from the black lagoon, shuffling words and cut-throat razors and hiding the rusty blade up my sleeve.

The left side of my brain races to all exit points, frantically searching for adequate excuses to keep feeding my addiction, while the right side knows I have no concrete argument against it. Nothing that would stand up in court, anyway.

I picture the courtroom. Speaking for the prosecution is none other than the unctuous P. McKenna QC himself:

‘My lord, the defendant claims that quitting his beloved cigarettes is an impossibility at present, on account of it interfering with the thinking processes involved in the writing of his blog’, the last word uttered with half-shut eyes and the mouth of someone who has just found a pubic hair in his sandwich.

‘A blog? And what, exactly, is a blog?’, enquires the judge in puzzlement.

‘It appears, my lord, to be a curious modern phenomenon, in which ordinary members of the public regularly publish their daily thoughts into an online journal.’

‘It sounds dangerous’, says the judge, suddenly interested. ‘What sort of things do they write about?’

‘In the case of the defendant, my lord, mostly gibberish. But generally it can be anything at all, ranging from rantings on the Iraq conflict to their pet’s favourite food’, says the well-informed P. McKenna QC.

‘In that case’, says the judge reaching for the black cap, ‘given the aggravating circumstances which you describe, I have no option but to sentence the defendant to a life without cigarettes. Take him down.’

I look at the book dismally. Damn you, Paul McKenna. Couldn’t you have written a book which hypnotises people into ignoring my unsociable habit instead? I check my packet of cigarettes: only one left. I light it, grimly.


26 Responses

  1. Oh boy have I been there. And by there I mean in both positions described – both giving up and prompting!

    It is hard and the only solution we found was to have twins. During the pregnancy it made me want to puke. After the pregnancy, neither the SO not I ever have the time!

    So thats the solution! Have babies, lots of them 🙂


    p.s. thanks for the ref, I’m on my way there now!

  2. “What is it about addictive substances which places a little devil firmly on our shoulder and immediately promotes him to chief PR advisor?”

    Excellent stuff! Of course I’ve been a smoker and I gained 100s of kilos when I quit. It’s near impossible to stick to your guns when you end up looking like Dawn French’s fat sister!

    Not exactly words of encouragement, but then you’ve got Paul MK and your understanding lady friend to do that…

  3. I do wish you the best of luck 🙂

  4. Bests from an ex. (Why are ex-smokers always the worst? :o)

    Me, I’d rather hack off a testicle with etc than expose my mind to Paul McKenna’s hypnosis, but there ya go.

    Different strokes. Allen Carr has a great track record, without a hint of hypnosis. Worked for me, after 46 years of slavery.

  5. I wouldn’t want Paul McKenna messing with my fragile mind either.
    I could as a non-smoker (who never has) point out that you shouldn’t have started the filthy habit in the first place. But I won’t!

    Oh, and Good luck…

  6. I did so love that court room scene. But I would like you to quit smoking…because you know, I can just see the both of in our 80s, grey haired but diligently blogging back and forth…and I don’t want to be there all by myself, you know?

  7. I think you’ve had it! Looks like you have no alternative but to give up smoking.

    I gave up just over 22 years ago on 31st Jan 1985 at midnight, if I can remember rightly. (Anyone who claims to have forgotten that fateful date is a liar!)

    Anyway, I gave up by chewing coffee beans! No joke!
    Every time I felt like a ciggie, I grabbed one and the urge to smoke subsided.
    Now, twenty two years on I am trying to give up coffee… :o)

  8. i have a bottle of red wine attached to my shoulder.

    it’s mute, though 😉

  9. Not that dodgy little man with the plastic face? I wouldn’t trust him. You’ll quit when you’re good and ready!

  10. Hub just quit (nearly four weeks ago). His top tip is DON”T SMOKE. Also he did find the dead Alan Carr helpful.

    May the force be with you.

  11. Here is my solution to the problem (and it doesn’t require technology).
    Take one goodbye pack of cigarettes. Have someone drive you a minimum of 200 miles from civilization (you may not take your car). Have them pick you up in two months. (You may take groceries and you are allowed shelter.)
    I keep hoping someone will offer to help me with this stop smoking program, but so far, no one has.
    And I’m pretty sure it would work.
    Sixty times more addictive than crack…so be kind to yourself about how hard it is. No sense ruining your health and your self-esteem at the same time.

  12. oh good for you!

    I am proud of you and your
    wonderful sense of humor –
    deep down you must know the
    cat is cheering you one of course.

    I have never smokes
    (asthmatic so never ever an
    but my parents do and they both


  13. Did I get it right? Are you indeed concerned with gaining weight? I thought you did not want to be misjudged as a “Brazilian hottie”! I’m confused… Just quit, okay?! Sure it is not going to affect your sexy writing! 🙂

  14. Hahahahaha brilliant post! It took me 18 months to give up but it was worth it. Go Edvard! You can do it! Ra ra ra!!!

  15. Great writing! I think the only flaw in this plan is that listening to Paul McKenna would make most people want to take up smoking.

  16. Uh ho, that’s a toughie! The effects of stopping are surprisingly quick though so hang in there. And yes, yes, yes… this is a fantastic post!

  17. The cat is just afraid to attach to you too deeply because he is afraid with all that smoking you could suffer an early death. Don’t take it personally, really. And I always hear smoking is terribly hard to quit so go easy on yourself. You can do it and will get through the trying first weeks which I hear often enough once you get through those it really does get easier. Hang in there!

  18. How is it going? When I was up in Yorkshire last year everyone seemed to be sucking on these weird plastic cigarette-shaped things. Have you given them a go?

    Remember you must always replace one addiction with another, otherwise the void created by the first one will make you fail… but make sure you select your next one with care.

    Ps. The Brazilian plant sounds really interesting. Have you seen it in action?

  19. I have a pretty good running list of reasons why one should quit smoking…ranging from the typical “cancer” to the atypical “penile necrosis” (true story)…but I don’t suppose they’ll work any better on you than they did on my dad. He still smokes like a chimney.

    All I can say is that it is tough…but it’s worth it. Just think of those ten extra years you’ll have to enjoy your grandchildren…

  20. …or your godchildren! 🙂 (And eventually your grandchildren!) he he…sorry, misread your profile…

  21. Edvard, you should start feeling better within a week. Honest! But you must stick with it religiously. Chewing gum might help distract you, and if you feel tempted, a good sniff of an ashtray full of cold butts should be enough to gross you out. Hang in there!

  22. was I the last man in england still smoking?

    Not judging by the crowd in the pub tonight – you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face in there.
    Roll on July when they’re not allowed to!

    Oh, And you’re doing well. Keep it up.
    (And no, that’s not meant as a double entrendre either!)

  23. Lovely, Eddie. I’m very impressed with the incorporation of pubic hair into your writing.

  24. alan carr, alan carr, alan carr, alan carr.
    alan carr. or is it allen? can’t remember.
    no patches, no gum, no mindf*ck with mckenna. i smoked every day for 19 years and stopped overnight. haven’t touched a fag (of anykind!) in three years. bliss.

  25. Here’s my advice on quitting smoking: place the patch over your mouth.

  26. […] bestow upon The Smoking Creature From the Black Lagoon, published March 1, 2007, the Post of the Day Award. Judging from the picture above, we say, […]

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