No, nay, never October 16, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
I’ve been a wild smoker for many’s the year and I’ve spent all me money on ciggies and beer…
But that’s all in the past. Darlings, you wouldn’t think you could get so much blog-meat out of your lungs, but I’m going to give it a go. Bear with me (if you haven’t got something much better to do).
I’m sorry to say it, but I realise with ever-increasing certainty that my mood is as much controlled by money as it is the weather. Battling scum-kings to get the money they owe you makes me more livid than a bear with a personality disorder who’s been woken early from his hibernation by builders building a supermarket on his patch of forest, but the upside of this is that when they finally cough up and you can put the grievance to bed, my mood is so euphoric that I actually have to inject myself with a whisky+NightNurse cocktail to knock myself out so as not to annoy the neighbours with constant singing and leaping round the room for joy. If the sun is out when the scum-kings happen to cough up – luckily, a rare event in northern Europe – then I buy strangers flowers, heal the sick and stand on a soap-box in Alexanderplatz and tell jokes.
Yesterday, I was paid. And the sun was out. But I had a gazillion things to attend to so I halved the whiskey+NightNurse dose, sent an SMS to the Christian I borrow the soap-box off and told him he could do a double shift, and set about my errands. Paid some of the more manageable-looking bills from the pile. Wrote some rude e-mails to translation people. (No thanks, I don’t fancy working for 40 euros for a thousand words and you paying the invoice after 90 days, actually. PS. Fuck off.) Tried to distract the Russian as he was suggesting we go to Australia, the moon AND IKEA, and all before bedtime, and remembered, to my great relief, that I was completely out of my delicious inhalers. Russians adore and respect illness, so when I said I’d better make a quick detour to the quack, the Russian adopted a stern but caring expression, patted me on the back and wished me luck as I went into battle.
I’d hardly relit the cigarette which I’d only started smoking the night before to annoy the Russian but which was truncated by the predictably punctual arrival of the tram before I noticed the dreaded attempt at eye contact by not one but two cigarette-poncers on our famously boring street. I tried to look away, down, behind me, but they were not to be thwarted in their poncing. A youngish couple – late 30s, dishevelled. I instantly had wicked Daily Mail thoughts about their last moment of non-taxpayer-funded generosity being when one of them once bought their friend a penny chew. He asked politely enough for a cigarette. She giggled goofily, in the way that Andrea Jaeger did when she finally won a point in that Wimbledon final against Navratilova in 1845 when she was 6-0 5-0 40-0 down (probably a Navratilova double fault), if they could take two. I’ve decided the best policy on such occasions is to agree but with a look of foul distaste and, of course, total silence. They bounded off happily on their way and I worried about the world we live in and thought that she could easily get a job as a court jester and I couldn’t quite think of what he should do, though he had the looks for a certain type of singer, and isn’t it queer when you’ve been on the street for two seconds to have only smoked 2/3rds of a ciggie yourself and to have given away two.
I wheezed my way to the asthma quack. Stopped off to buy chewing gum to take away the stench of fag so that the doctor wouldn’t bollock me only to be served by a Hungarian woofter I’ve chatted to when out and about on numerous occasions. “What are you doing here?” I said to him, feigning surprise, interest and normality. “Working,” came his not surprising answer. “But what are you doing here?” he countered, thinking he’d better play along. “Um, buying chewing gum.” “80c please.” “Bye then.” We didn’t exchange phone numbers.
The doctor’s was lovely. The old but dim receptionist had obviously cut back on the booze and was a beacon of efficiency. There was one new receptionist who looked like a model. And the young, dim, plump one seemed to have settled into the job. “I’d like some drugs, please,” I said to the old but dim but sober one. I didn’t have an appointment, but she flashed my computerised file at the doctor who happened to be sitting in reception and is so tall and thin that I worried he’d be no good in an earthquake (and I did think of suggesting he have one of those weights attached to his head that they put on top of buildings in Japan, but then remembered we don’t have that many earthquakes here. Phew!), plus he wasn’t wearing a belt, so I was preparing to amass disdain for him, but he authoritatively said I hadn’t had a good, thorough check-up since 2002 and talked me into one without a drop of resistance. The young, dim, plump one was in charge of that and she was ruthlessly efficient. She hurried me down the corridor. Sat me in the booth. Made me put a posh clothes-peg on my nose and fellate the blowy-machine. I sat still and looked left, then right, and felt a little bit silly as I awaited instructions. She fiddled with her knobs then told me to breathe normally. Then deeper. Then she regulated my speed by chanting in, out, in, out. First it was regular speed, then frantic, then I had to do a big ‘in’ and then she’d holler, “BLOW!” And then another big in and BLOW! And again and again. I was putty in her hands. I thought she was probably the dominant one in her relationship, and imagined her boyfriend as being tall, thin and silent.
I calmed myself down and waited for my go with Herr Quack himself. An old Berlinerin beed witty with the receptionists. Another old Berlinerin’s eyes were so wide with indignation at this display of Schnauze that I was worried they might fly out of their sockets and land on my lap. A youngish couple dressed IDENTICALLY – identical dark-blue jeans turned up a mile, identical black leather jackets and identical caps – waited their turn and I wondered why he still needed his girlfriend to take him to the doctor.
The beltless doctor ushered me in. I assured him I was as right as rain but didn’t half fancy some drugs. He did the stethoscope while I worried if I could breathe in and out and still manage to hide my belly at the same time and then told me what the young, dim, plump one’s tests revealed. “Yes, no major change. Your asthma’s much the same as it was. Do you need the inhalers much?” (Scribble, scribble.) Then some technical spiel and telling me that if I wasn’t careful, I might have a nice little bout of emphysema to look forward to. The word emphysema sounded so terrifying that it was the first time I’ve taken medical advice properly, instantaneously on board. I remembered an old friend’s girlfriend – a nurse – from a former life telling me I’d be dead by 40. A combination of the beltless doctor’s words and a will to prove the nurse wrong did for me in one split second what I am led to believe Allen Carr does over the course of several chapters.
I will never smoke again.