Monday, 13 December 2010

How to Quit Smoking

I am, for my sins, an inveterate smoker. It all started as a teenager when I wanted to impress a girl: the relationship failed but I remained hooked.  I have tried every which way to give up - nicorette patches (sore arms), nicorette gum (aching jaws), even acupuncture (punctured ego) - but nothing has worked. I even thought that our move to Spain may act as a fresh incentive to quit until I discovered that cigarettes cost less than half of the price in the UK. Moreover, whereas in the UK, I am treated almost as a social pariah, over here I am considered normal. But maybe I have found a solution.

The lugubrious Maria runs the local Estanco, a small supermarket with a licence to sell cigarettes (the Spanish government still keeps a tight rein on the sale of tobacco). The other day I popped in to buy a pack.

The conversation proceeded something along the lines of: ‘20 Fortuna Light please’ ‘We’ve run out’ ‘When is the next delivery?’ ‘Today’ ‘What time?’ ‘12 noon’ ‘But it’s already 1.30’ ‘Yes, the man’s late as always’ ‘What time does he normally come?’ ‘It varies’ ‘Shall I come back this afternoon?’ ‘Yes’ ‘What time do you suggest?’ ‘Whenever’ ‘How about 5 o’clock?’ (small stores in Spain normally close for siesta between 2 and 5) ‘I will be closed’ ‘When do you re-open?’ ‘About 6’ ‘OK I’ll be back at 6’. ‘I thought you said you were coming at 5’  ‘But you said you were shut’ ‘Yes but you only have to ring the bell’.

It’s enough to make you give up smoking. In fact it’s enough for you to give up the will to live.

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