There’s always something, isn’t there? No matter how good your life is, it’s never perfect and even if you do manage to achieve perfection it certainly doesn’t last past a few hours or days. I’m not complaining, just stating the way the world is. You solve one problem and another appears somewhere else. You get on top of that and something else needs your attention. It’s like putting on a pair of magic knickers and the fat disappears from your hips but ends up like a swimming ring around your armpits. This is probably a reference only women of a certain size will be able to identify with but it is similar to the common cartoon gag where someone is whacking down a lump under a carpet or mat, but once flattened the lump appears in another spot and so on. Basically there’s always something.

Regular readers of this contribution will know that I quit smoking, cold turkey, in mid January and I’m happy to report that I’m still off them. That’s practically two months and a miracle by any standard as I had never gone more than about 24 hours without nicotine in the previous 20 years. People have asked me if I have noticed a difference. When it comes to the health aspects, to be perfectly honest I haven’t. Of course I’m living with myself every day so maybe the changes are so gradual that you don’t notice them. Maybe it’s like your fingernails growing. You know that they do but you never actually see it and one day you wake up and realise they are too long and need to be trimmed. Maybe I’ll just wake up one morning soon and think “Wow, quality breathing!”

I was expecting, and prepared for, the unpleasantness of the tar leaving my lungs. I was warned about hacking up phlegm (that’s really awful isn’t it?) for a few weeks and it almost put me off giving up, but thankfully it hasn’t happened, I’ve been ‘hacking free’ and can’t imagine it happening at all now. I have noticed a difference financially. I love not having to have cash on your person all the time. As a smoker you rarely popped into a shop to buy cigarettes without also picking up a newspaper, a magazine or a bottle of water so cash was always necessary, but not any more; all relatively positive you might think.

However, what I neglected to mention up to now is that although I quit smoking I took up chocolate; as evil a substance as you will find on the planet, I assure you. Perhaps it is not as expensive as cigarettes but don’t be fooled, it is equal in all its other vile addictiveness. It drapes itself seductively over plain biscuits making them quite irresistible, it innocently shouts to me like a best friend from legal and socially acceptable vending machines found in most public spaces, and the willowy, greyhound like actresses in the TV commercials suggest that indulging in the brown stuff is totally harmless. Don’t be fooled, it’s a wicked pit waiting to trap you. The problem is that once in the chocolate pit instead of trying to escape you are happy to take up residence and almost decide to decorate it. (It must be the endorphins!)

You probably think that I am exaggerating for the sake of comedic value but I’m not. I did something two Friday nights ago that I have never, ever done in my entire life. It started out quite innocently with a quick trip to Lidl on my way home from work. It was Friday, I’d stayed late at the office and I knew my significant other was out for the evening, so I was heading home to an empty house and the prospect of Pat Kenny for company! (Oh, the glamour of it all!)

The intention was to pop into Lidl and pick up a frozen pizza. I had to pass the chocolate aisle to get to the freezer section and that’s when it happened. As it was Friday after all, I reached for a sinful box of praline shells! (If you haven’t had them they are gorgeous!) Not a bar of chocolate but a box of chocolates. Let me stress this, I have had almost forty years of ‘Fridays’ and never before in my entire life have I rewarded myself at the end of the week with chocolate. I went home and guiltlessly opened the box and proceeded to eat them while watching television. I considered taking them into bed with me where I knew I would read for a while but felt that was taking the decadence a step too far. I was sound asleep in a chocolate dream by the time Timmy arrived home.

On waking the next morning we were lying there, casually chatting. He was still half asleep and answering my chirpy questions, “Who was out last night?”, “Any news?” etc., in monosyllabic tones with his back to me and his head still firmly attached to the pillow. I then said, “You’ll never guess what I did last night!” “Whazz thaa?” came the barely audible, sleepy response. “I bought myself a box of chocolates and almost ate them all”, I said boldly. The shock of such a statement made him instantly fully alert and his head came up off the pillow and turned immediately towards me insisting I say it again, just in case he had heard wrong, “You did what?” he said. His reaction was priceless. He was genuinely shocked because he knew this was a really odd thing for me to do. In thirteen years of being together I had never done it before. He’s the chocoholic in the house, not me. Of course I have received and accepted chocolates as gifts in the past and have happily eaten them but this was way out of character.

So I give up smoking and while I’m patting myself proudly on the back with one hand the other hand is reaching for chocolate and creating a whole new ‘lump’ (literally) for me to whack down. There was also the wonderful notion that all the money I’m saving by not smoking could be spent on new clothes. How ironic. I wouldn’t go within an ass’s roar of a shop changing room at the moment for fear of depressing myself when things don’t fit. Then this morning while brushing my teeth I noticed, (a little like the finger nail thing) some extra chins. Where did they come from? Your one in the Galaxy ad who makes out she lives on chocolate hasn’t any! So that’s it, the glow of giving up smoking has now worn off and I’m back dealing with another addiction; arguably a less offensive one, but an addiction all the same. There’s always something, isn’t there?