If you come across a slightly manic looking, crazily chewing person in Launceston over the next few weeks, that'll be me. I've given up smoking (again).
I think it's the eighth or ninth time that I've given up. Ironically, I've always been pretty successful at the task. Although not, of course, successful enough to quit for good.
One of my early attempts involved giving up at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. It wasn't the greatest party anyway, but I managed to make it infinitely worse for the person I had gone with. What should have been a time of careless abandon turned into increasingly tetchy behaviour. Lesson one in giving up smoking - give up from when you get up.
I truly admire those who give up on willpower alone. For me, the advent of nicotine patches and other aids has helped hugely. When they first came out, nicotine patches did something weird to my skin and brought me out in a rash that lasted for several weeks. So I had to avoid putting one anywhere they had been before. It's surprisingly easy to run out of arm space.
It may be psychological, but they also seem to give an extra hit of nicotine if you hit them. Hence the sight of me furiously slapping my arm in a particularly tedious meeting.
Using the patches I could give up for as much as a couple of months. The experts say that the first few weeks are the worst. I got through that time relatively easily, but succumbed when the hardest part was behind me.
The last time I gave up (before this time, obviously) was on the day of the St Austell Bay by-election last October. Elections are pretty stressful events and polling day is usually the worst. I just figured that if I could make it through that then I could do anything. I was right (in as much as I ever am), but two months later was back on the Marly Lights.
I was determined to quit again though. This time for good (yeah, right). The trouble is that I'm an inconsistent smoker. There are some people who smoke 20 a day every day and never waver. For me, it varies (varied?) hugely - anything from 10 to 20. In my nicotine addled brain I decided that I would be wasting cash if I quit when I was halfway through the packet. So I carried on for days (at £6.13 a pack) until bedtime and the end of the pack looked like coinciding. That day was yesterday. So in the afternoon I went up to the pharmacy counter at Tesco and got myself my latest batch of nicotine replacement materials. I've got seven days worth of patches and about 70 pieces of gum. (By the way, the gum you get today actually tastes like regular gum, rather than licking out pub ashtrays).
I'm currently about 18 hours cigarette free. I've been out and about most of the day so I don't just sit around and eat, but I haven't yet stocked up on cigarette replacement food. Those little baby carrots you can get pre-peeled are the best for me. You can munch a whole bag and not feel like Gok Wan would shoot you and they also have a bit of cigarette like shape.
I haven't yet had a truly zealoty conversation, but I'm sure it will come soon. The sort of chat where I lambast someone for the very idea of such a disgusting habit. (Hypocrite, moi?)
So if you see me in the street chewing, wish me luck. If you see me smoking, demand all my smoking materials and destroy them.