Subscribe by RSS

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Fag club

It's not easy being a dad these days. When I was young your job was to get the money in, put the bins out and smoke cigars to celebrate the birth of every baby. 

Try doing that in the maternity ward now and see how long you last. It's health and safety gone mad, I tell you. 

See, if you aim to take all the risk out of life you end up like my sister. She tries to kill everything with bactericidal sprays. But all that does is eliminate the weak bugs, so the strong ones multiply. It's simple biology.

After a few years of this accelerated evolution, the superbugs took over her house and she had to move out. And these were macho superbugs. Six feet tall and oozing slime. They didn't bother infecting people. They mugged them for their money and cigarettes.

Which brings us to young Chuck, who became a dad nine months ago and is struggling to stop smoking now. "I've been going to Fag Club," he tells us over dinner at Susan's house on Easter Sunday.

"That would mean something else in the States," Carol tells him. 

"We're not in the States," he says. "'Fag' means cigarette in Scotland. Always has, always will."

"And in England," I tell him. "And Australia too, I believe. What do you do at Fag Club?"

"First rule of Fag Club is you do not talk about Fag Club," he says.

"It's real name is Fresh Air-Shire," Carol tells us. "Geddit? It's the smoking cessation service for Ayrshire and Arran. But there's versions all over the country."

"So what do you do at these meetings then?" I ask again, nipping in to block his move on the chocolate cheesecake. You have to watch young Chuck. He's got a very sweet tooth. You know those wildlife films where a lioness tears its prey apart and eats it? Like that but with fewer bits of fur left over. 

"He told me all they talk about is wanting a fag, gasping for a fag, and how long it's been since their last fag," Marie says. 

"That's about right," he says. "You think about it all the time you're there and come out desperate for a smoke. It is useful, though. You're all in the same boat."

"So is someone running these sessions or do you just sit around and share your pain?" I say.

"They're organised," he says. "The guy tells you at the start to say why you want to stop smoking, then he asks if you've tried it before and ....

"Why did you say you wanted to stop?" I interrupt.

"That's personal," he mumbles, studying his pudding.

"Tell them the rest of the story," Marie says.

"Well I say to the guy, 'I've tried to stop before, but I'd always end up wanting one when I was having a drink'. And he says to me, 'Have you considered stopping drinking?'"

He raises his eyebrows, pauses for dramatic effect, feints towards the black forest gateau and pounces on the last piece of chocolate cake, beating my outstretched hand by a whisker. 

"So I say, 'Isn't that a different club?'" he continues, just failing to suppress a smile of triumph. A ripple of laughter around the table shows the family's appreciation of his, to my mind, frankly feeble joke.

"So come on, don't be shy," I say, still smarting at the loss. "Tell us all why you wanted to stop smoking so badly." 

"Go on," Marie says quietly.

"Well it's like this," he says, studying his plate again. "No matter how hard it is, I just don't want cigarette smoke anywhere near wee Sally."

"Oh, for heaven's sake," I think to myself, but another ripple, this time of applause, goes round the table and I realise the crowd is with him and I've got to be subtle.

"Good man," I say, looking him straight in the eye, giving him a manly slap on the shoulder and stealing his chocolate cake with my other hand.

Respiratory Effects in Children from Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

No comments:

Post a Comment