Sunday, April 29, 2007


It’s funny the things your parents teach you, that you can never quite shake off.

Mother was a chain-smoker, although few outside her nearest-and-dearest Circle of Hell would have known this. She never smoked in public, so lengthy shopping trips were constantly punctuated by a quick succession of cigarettes in the car. Mother always said, "smoking in the street is common." Of course, this was back in the glorious days when people could smoke wherever and whenever they wanted (I am sure I have a dim memory of our family doctor lighting up while writing out a prescription), so smoking 'in the street' must have seemed quite unnecessary.

Now the street is the only public place one can indulge one’s vice, so every time I stand outside a bar and set flame to Dunhill, I can feel Mother’s acidic disapproval burning away at my wanton vulgarity.

It’s actually quite a good feeling.


sally said...

I'm with you Mrs Smith. My mother was a champion smoker and likewise there was a strict etiquette and ritual base to be observed at all times. My mother would only be seen smoking Dunhill or Rembrant or B&H. Most other brands were seen as de-classe, the equivalent of drinking cask wine or Lion Red eg anything with menthol or Pall Mall's.

Smoking on the street was an absolute no-no, "dead common" she would spit. Smoking in the car, windows absolutley up was fair game and answered my question as to why I suffered car sickness.

Smoking occurred at parties but only after the host and hostess gave the go-ahead. My mother being a thoughtful hostess always proferrred a selection of cigarettes,cigarellos and cigars out of a silver box with an antique silver lighter but as this lighter was as unrealiable as the rhythm method, a modern safety lighter was quickly on hand. Long matches were deemed acceptable as long as a man lit up for a woman.

As for ashtrays, well, again my other and her social set had a set but unspoken list of what was deemed acceptable. Paua shells were unspeakable "belong's at the bach", metal ashtrays "as seen at the local pub" mother would sniff.
Heavy cut or clear crystal and ceramic ashtrays were correct and were to be cleaned and polished vigilantly - "slovenly ashtrays suggest a slut's parlour" she would declare.

I noticed as the 80s emerged, things lightened up a bit on the smoking front, mum would allow smokers at the dinner table despite dinner not being officially finished. As the booze sunk in elbows were on the table and cigarettes would be glowing - unthinkable ten years before hand.
Father would pass the port and pass the cigars and gosh, even risque women would be seen chugging a cigar "rather naughty but fun" mother declared with a grin.

To cut a long story short, mother gave up smoking after several false starts but looks back with great fondness on the smoking days and see's a lost culture.

Now don't start me on the perils of the ghastly word 'toilet'....lets's say I concur with the Royal family on that score.

Lisa said...

I can't bear the thought of smoking in the car with all the windows up...even as a smoker myself I couldn't cope with all that, bleech. I try my best not to smoke on the street unless I feel I can't possibly cope without a cigarette. I'm shit scared one of the patients will walk past and see me. Hardly good advertising for the medical centre! lol

Mrs Smith said...

Goodness, Sally. I think you ought to win a prize for the longest comment ever. Your dear mother sounds thoroughly splendid.

Anonymous said...

What I hate about smoking is all those fellow patients of my Mum at the old peoples' home; they all want to bludge a smoke off me. It makes smoking too bloody expensive. And most of the old bludgers are over eighty.

Insolent Prick said...


You've missed the whole frigging point of putting your mother into the old people's home. It is so that you DON'T HAVE TO BLOODY SEE HER!

Or at least when you do visit, make it your purpose to push some bludging old crone out of her wheelchair.