There are fewer smokers about these days, but many people have their phone in their hand instead. We’ve traded one rectangle for another.by Cathy Rentzenbrink / October 15, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Last night I dreamt I smoked a cigarette again. I inhaled deeply and then blew beautiful smoke rings into the air. I’ve missed this, I thought.
It has been 13 years since I smoked a cigarette in real life but I do it once or twice a week in dreams and it is always so good. Like many smokers, I can chart my life in brands. I had my first fag down an alleyway because I thought it would confuse the bullies if I asked for one, and it did. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I learned that I could survive school and the problem of being too clever for my own good by joining the bad boys behind the conifers for a share of a Benson & Hedges they’d stolen out of their Mum’s gold packet.
Soon I carried a 10-pack of Regal King Size secreted in my schoolbag and was once caught smoking in the boys’ toilets. “For an intelligent girl you do some very stupid things,” said my kind headmistress in a weary voice.
At Sixth Form in Scunthorpe there was a smoking common room which felt very grown up. I tried to get into roll-ups there but never quite mastered it. When I went to university and made some posh friends I upgraded to Marlboro Lights. During my year in France I bought Gauloises Blondes Legeres from the tabac and when I lived in New York I shifted to Lucky Strike Lights.
America was a smoking heaven. I loved the soft packets and the white tips that showed off lipstick marks in a way I found achingly glamorous and I once chain smoked from Chicago to New Orleans feeling like a character in a novel.
I never liked menthol—they were for the sort of people who wanted lime in their lager—and thought Silk Cut was the equivalent of being a s…