Smoke gets in my eyes…

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February 9, 2015 by Whispering Smith

A HEAVILY EDITED VERSION OF THIS COLUMN APPEARED AS Whispering Smith’s Column in the Littlehampton Gazette of January 29th. I respectfully bow to the editor’s blue pen but thought  it right to publish the original in my blog…

IT always irritates when asked the question, on a medical form, ‘do you smoke?’ It is not the question that irritates but more the yes or no answers offered you. ‘Are you a smoker?’ ‘Have you ever been a smoker?’ and ‘How long since you gave up?’ Where is the space to tell whoever it is who is prying into your lifestyle that you, like a good many people are an occasional smoker. I sometimes, have a stogie at the allotment, surveying the day’s labours and sipping a warm beer. I may have a very occasional quirley if my son or daughter are indulging in the garden under similar circumstances and, dreadful though it may sound, I could be tempted into lighting up a Gaulois on a sunny French evening with friends and a glass of good wine. Worse, I suppose, would be to admit that I had been known in my younger days to take a toke at a doobie if in such company as those who  did indulge. Not sure why on the last one though as it did nothing at all for me, I could already fly! My point is there should be an accepted response that simply says, ‘very occasionally.’

SUNNY morning last week so I pop out to the Arundel Wetlands Centre but somewhere between Littlehampton and Arundel the weather turns nasty, gray skies and drizzle even the ducks are depressed. Too wet for a walkabout so I buy a mug of coffee and sit in the café watching a newly arrived gaggle of Canada Geese occupy the island usually smothered in seagulls. Off to my right there is an elderly gentleman, he sits slumped down in the comfortable armchair by the picture window overlooking the large lake. He has a huge, long lens camera on his lap, his mitten covered hands are folded at the lips of his nodding head as if in prayer, he is fast asleep dreaming, I suspect, of kingfishers and cormorants.

TAKING coffee with my gloomy old friend this morning he told me he had woken up in the middle of the night and, unable to get back to sleep, had pondered upon the wording of his tombstone and decided upon: ‘What was that all about?’ I thought that quite apt.


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