And I was doing so well…

A 1am quickie to forestall a horrible, horrible dilemma. I have not had a cigarette now since 6 March, and only today I was congratulating myself on the general excellence of this, hoo yes, not had one of those filthy things for two and a half months, yes indeedy, no need for those elegant little wands of bliss, no need for the feeling of being at peace with the world and ready to do a little thinking, nonono, not at all, gaaaaaaah, cake, wine, anything, quickly…

And I overcome this energetic bout of vindication, one roast dinner and half a bottle of sparkling rose later, to find this Q&A from Nick Clegg in the Grauniad (h/t Paul Walter), and it includes this little nugget

What is your most unappealing habit?

I still smoke, a bit.

Nyaaaaaaaaaaargh! Even the high chief of many principles I hold dear “still smokes a bit”! And he does healthy stuff, like tennis and hiking! He has springy hair and energy! People like him simply DO NOT “still smoke a bit”!

I have to believe this, you see, because it’s only people with springy hair and energy who lead political parties that make me feel sufficiently guilty about being such a sedentary self-abusive slob that I can summon the motivation to, for example, stop smoking. If he still does it, then what’s stopping me from getting the baccy off the kitchen windowsill and rolling a restful nightcap right now (deeply unfair business, quitting in a household full of smokers)?

I think I detect the phrase “role model” galloping desperately and misguidedly in this direction. Oh god, as soon as I start thinking in Daily Hate Mail language all must be lost…



  1. Off the cancer-sticks, Mortimer. Where’s your will power? Not impressed.

    Actually, I’m supposed to be libertarian. Fuck it, do what you want. I may be seeing Mr Clegg tomorrow, not in private of course, in a public forum. Will report back on hair spring.

  2. Fact is, if the Cleggster had been a non-smoker he’d have bagged himself a many times more than his 30 women to date. Every time I find out a hot girl smokes a little part of me dies. Don’t kill it Alix, resist you must!

  3. RedOnTheTrain is right (although I’m a girl who likes boys, so to make the logic of this comment work you have to do a bit of gender transposition).

    Or, put it like this: the UK political blogosphere needs all the genuinely thought-provoking contributors it’s got, so don’t be silly. (Although, having said that, how many of the worthwhile political journalists of the last century didn’t smoke like chimneys, drink like fish and – well, enjoy marginally irregular personal lives? And most of them lived to Deedes-grade lifespans, too?)

    Oh dear. I am not making much of a case, am I? Do what you want. But I rather suspect your Cleggster wouldn’t puff if he could avoid it, and I see no reason why, in being able to stand up to a boring, expensive and probably marginally unhelpful habit, you shouldn’t prove yourself to be twice the man he is. As it were.

    And anyway, I’ve never smoked (no, really!) but while I have springy hair, I have absolutely no energy. So, well, you’re a sensible woman. Do what you like.

  4. This is a challenge I still struggle with, but I control it by not bothering to ask myself whether I belong to the celestial beings of clean living or the hell-hounds of depravity, as that just sends me into a spiral of self-analysis where the focus stays on the next cigarrete with the obvious inevitable result…

    I’m just wondering under what circumstances the Cleggster submits to his inner beast and satisfies his need for the comfort of a warm rosy glow.

    Oh, I’m sure we can forgive him his indiscretion – it’s not like he’s a 20-a-day man!

  5. Bah. The more new puritans I see going on about how awful and disgusting smoking is, the more it makes me want to smoke.

    If a bloke would decide not to date me because I have a fag in my hand? Great! That cuts the queue down a bit, sorts the wheat from the chaff, and gets the boring moralisers away without me even having to talk to them! It’s a win-win situation for both of us!

    At the risk of being the little devil on your left shoulder in opposition to all the angels on the right, I say: fuck it, have a fag. Life’s too short to guilt trip yourself about something that’s so enjoyable, and you could get run over by a bus tomorrow.

    And don’t forget, you’re funding the NHS! AFAIR, smoking related diseases cost the NHS £1 billion or so per year, but smokers contribute about £9 billion to the tax pot from buying fags…

  6. Oh dearie me Alix, what can I do but confess that I’m a 20-25 a day gasper addict. If you have managed to stay ciggie free since March then you can make it through another few hours. I’m giving you some of my willpower now in the hope hat you will return the favour when I try to stop!

  7. Meh. I don’t smoke, have never smoked, and have no desire to start. Most of the people I’ve been attracted to or got involved with since I was 20ish smoke. None of them smoke heavily.

    I care not as long as it’s not a many-a-day habit that you can’t break. Of course, lack of sense of smell helps there I suspect.

  8. I had a cigarette yesterday morning. I must have been forced into it by the need to reset the cosmic balance. So it was your fault. And not mine.

  9. As someone with Scrooge-like tendencies, I could never see how anyone could get through the pain barrier of the cost together with the disgusting taste to the apparent grail of a nicotine habit. Start putting aside what you would have spent before March on cigarettes and buy yourself a present with the proceeds – that may keep you on the straight path to (self-)righteousness.

  10. I started smoking when I was 13 and have now been off them for the last 3.5 years for the third time!! Both my maternal grandfather and my own father died of lung cancer, so I thought it prudent to stop but that’s not the main reason.

    Fact is, smoking smells and if you smoke you will too. Second related fact is, that if Nick had had one of his ‘still smoke a bit’ cigarettes before his blog interview I would probably not have sat next to him. He would’ve smelt; Lib Dem leader and all round good egg or not!!

    A combination of me not smoking and there being no more smoking in restaurents or in stations has meant my nose has become a lot more sensitive to smell of people who smoke.

    Of course, you can do what you like and it’s perfectly legal, but if you do, you will smell!

    Keep going with the no smoking, no smelling thing!!

  11. PS- I’ve got a bit of a hammering at LDV on the thread “Distributism”. I need someone clever to help me argue the case for economic liberalism. I thought I’d send for you 🙂

  12. The girl next to me at work has a compulsive polo eating habit. It’s the same as smoking, only it doesn’t kill you and smells much better.

    Our work pays you £500 to stop smoking. I can’t get an answer from HOUR about how long you’d have to smoke for before you qualify for the scheme!

  13. The girl next to me at work has a compulsive polo eating habit. It’s the same as smoking, only it doesn’t kill you and smells much better.

    Our work pays you £500 to stop smoking. I can’t get an answer from HR about how long you’d have to smoke for before you qualify for the scheme!

  14. Thanks everybode! I got through it. The power of the blog… Glad to see everyone else has the same trouble with liberalism/cancer-inducing habits as I do. “No, no, no, you must stop immediately! Do as I say! If you want to, that is. I mean, obviously it’s none of my business and I don’t even care very much…”

    Will, you can have that one on me. Then if/when I do crack, it can be your fault. Smokers’ karma…

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