When I went to California I was flabbergasted to learn that smoking was banned in restaurants and bars. It was like some freaky joke. How did everyone put up with it? I ended up snouting round San Francisco for illegal smoke-easies. When I heard, earlier this year, that they had done the same thing to New York, I was scandalised.
The point is that if they had told me 18 days ago they were going to ban smoking in British restaurants and bars, I would have wanted to leave the country. That or never go out again. I was with AA Gill all the way.
Well, how quickly this worm has turned. Today - not having smoked for an entire 17 days - I would probably vote for a smoking ban.
Weirder yet, I can watch anti-smoking adverts now - even the obscene ones with little kids who have lost their mummy to smoking. You know those last week with children puffing out smoke? As a smoker I would have been out of my chair like a whippet to turn the stupid set off. As a non-smoker, I sat back and quite enjoyed them.
I can also do anti-smoking bumf now - the kind of thing no smoker would allow in their sight. For example, the NHS anti-smoking leaflets slogan: "Together we can give up for good." Apparently in my first three weeks (almost over), the bumf says I ought to have been prepared for mood swings, lack of concentration, irritation, bowel changes, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.
But it gets murkier. I have started waving my trotters in the air when people light up next to me. And droning on about how pleased I am to have quit - in front of smokers. Worse, I suspect that if a smoker comes round to mine, I will struggle to offer them an ashtray. Years and years I spent bullying non-smoking hosts into letting me smoke inside their kitchens, or at least out of a window - now I think I could probably live with the sight of a guest smoking in the street. My boyfriend is genuinely revolted by this sort of talk, but there it is. "The problem is, smokers really are the best people," a (smoking) man said to me last week. Perhaps it's true.
Truth to tell, the no-smoking thing is a bit of a doss now. Maybe once or twice a day I think about the fact that I would like a fag. Big deal. A week or so ago my life was marred by emptiness and cigarette grief. (Remember Ireland? How we sat by the fire and read books and drank red wine and smoked? Oh happy days!) I was distracted. My chest felt awkward. My hands were desperate with inactivity. Several times - always when surrounded by friends smoking - I got very, very, close to having a fag.
All gone. No more. Sitting in a pub with only a pint in my hands is no longer weird. Not exactly perfect, but I have done it before: normality has shifted.
In fact I feel like a bit of a fraud - I can't have been much of a smoker, otherwise I'd be pig miserable now, wouldn't I?