Four hours after squeezing a baby out of her fanjo without the benefit of drugs or gas, I asked my sister how bad it had been. You know, really, how bad it had been, sister to sister. She looked at me, all bleary and happy, and shrugged, and finally said, somewhat doubtfully: "Oh, it did hurt." And that's all I got.
Well, it is exactly like that with me and the giving up of the gaspers. Once the rotten bit was over, the whole drama faded remarkably rapidly from my mind. I am already mildly surprised - 24 days into my new life - when people ask me how it's "going", the assumption apparently being that at any moment I may burst out of the office, dash up to the shops, buy some tobacco, and there on the street indulge in a frenzy of smoking.
As if! Tobacco may have been part of my life for a decade but that is all in the past. I find it hard to imagine being knocked from my stronghold of smugdom - hard to imagine ever having another fag. But it does happen. Indeed, the odds are stacked against me. Aren't they? I decided to take the Google out for a spin, and find out.
Well... it is far worse than I had imagined. The supposedly anti-smoking Ash website claims that only 3% of smokers manage to give up on "willpower alone". About 20% "or less" who embark on "a course of treatment" will succeed in abstaining for a year. How depressing! No wonder people don't quit with people telling them things like that. A friend tells me - and I choose to believe her and not Ash - that if you really want to quit, then you can and you will. Just as long as you treat it like any other addiction. Think AA: you are a cigarette addict, you can never have another, you must take it one day at a time. And it will be easy.
That has certainly been my experience - since the first-week cravings stopped, it's been pretty much easy-peasie pie all the way. Although, having said that, one of the people who sits on my desk - let's call him Ian - mentioned to me earlier that he thought it rather funny to read in my smoking column last week about what "a doss" it had been giving up, and wouldn't it be a good idea to get someone writing about the other side of it - something about how bad-tempered and snappy I had been at work since quitting?
I was, as you can imagine, shocked and rather wounded.
When cross-questioned at some length, however - I was understandably keen to find out when exactly he thought I had been snappy and bad-tempered - Ian abruptly changed his story, and claimed to have been "joking". So that's all right then.