I always said that when I got to the 5th anniversary of giving up smoking I would celebrate with a party and also to publish again my thoughts on the subject as expressed in this column at the time. Well we had the party and we celebrated with gusto a significant milestone in the life of yours truly, the Brasscock, in the Woodlands Hotel last Saturday night. Thanks again to all involved. And so to my thoughts of five years back when I kicked the noxious habit and I write of it now, firstly to celebrate a great five years and secondly in the hope that my words and positive experience may prove an encouragement to those who would like to do the same.

Nasty Nico

In the end one of us had to leave town and I decided finally that it was not going to be me. After thirty seven years as a puffer of Nasty Nico’s nicotine sticks it was time to ditch delusions of invincibility, i.e. that they wouldn’t get me. To too many smokers ‘denial’ is a river in Egypt – why else would otherwise intelligent, sociable, literate and numerate people continue to indulge in a habit that is noxious, anti-social, filthy and deadly costly on both health and wealth. The latter can be regained but the former is too often put beyond the point of rescue. Despite the health warnings, often with graphic images of the disgusting damage tobacco does, the dedicated smoker insists on spending hundreds of euro a month to inflict such damage on themselves. They say it’s a human right! But we delude ourselves of course, because we smoke only one at a time and what harm could that do? But 37 years later and 300,000 ciggies (note one of Nico’s oldest tricks, giving them cute and cuddly names) they will have taken a serious toll on the health of a body.

I started back in 1965 – the Rolling Stones had just charted with ‘I Can’t

Get No Satisfaction’. We thought we would get ours from smoking! However at that age smoking is all about peer groupings/group acceptance with a little touch of living dangerously plus a pinch of tilting at authority. It could not have had anything to do with physical pleasure. Ice cream and chocolate was a much better choice for that! But from day one we deluded ourselves that it did have some kind of kick or buzz. Much more importantly to smoke was cool or, as we put it then, ‘hip’ even right on, man!

Much less was known then of the serious damage to health they inflicted, indeed they enjoyed widespread acceptance. People smoked on planes, trains, cinemas and, believe it or not, commonly practised in hospital wards. Nurses then would have thought nothing of bringing in packets for patients! But as we all know now, nicotine is an addictive drug and tobacco contains up to a hundred other nasty toxics. This has been common knowledge for a good few years now but despite the increasing knowledge and the dire warnings I puffed away always saying that I must, I should, I have to, but always shoved aside to delusional corner of the brain.

Sheer Stupidity

But thankfully that day did finally arrive when I was finally prepared to admit to the sheer stupidity of smoking. That admission is the most powerful therapy of all and a hell of a lot better than any patch. It is with a sense of relief and gratitude but certainly not smugness that I look at smokers putting those silly white things in their mouths, followed by ignition and then suction of noxious fumes into their lungs – you know the body’s breathing organ vital to sustaining life. This not only looks stupid, it is stupid, stupid! But I am not laughing at them but rather still in a state of amazement at my own stupidity in thinking that was cool! Or forever giving the impression to any young person over the years that it was so, then it’s mea maxima culpa.

I decided to take back control of my health which I had for too long ceded to these fickle false friends. The battle I realised had to be a psychological one rather than a physical or chemical struggle. To this end I resorted to what I call ‘aversion therapy’ which is pretty much what I was up to in the previous paragraph. I have not read Alan Carr’s book on giving up smoking but I’m given to understand that the advice contained therein is similar to the methodology I had decided on. In summary it’s the stripping away of the barriers of denial and then to simply stop fooling oneself but owning up to the all too obvious fact that it is a dirty, stupid habit.

I hear you ask, what took you so long? Well, it’s an old one, there are none so blind as those who will not see! Having chatted with myself, I decided that was it and no matter how intense the craving I simply was not going to give in. I then informed friends, colleagues and pupils that I was a non-smoker! In order to up the ante further, I announced it to my readers in the Munster Express, I gave myself no place to hide. Soon I was in for a pleasant surprise on discovering that while the struggle to win this vital battle wasn’t a piece of cake it was much easier than I had anticipated. I had never dared take on the dreaded fags ( or should that read fangs!) before, in fear of failure but now I had exposed the charlatans for what they were, so it was up the yard with them!

Smart Move

To the young people reading this I say being a non-smoker is the new cool. If you have started, I can only ask why? – given all we know about Nasty Nico. Be a real friend, first of all to yourself and then to friends and family and be the real gutsy one, the one to stop first! Not only is it cool, it’s SMART. Wish I had known that at your age. Just don’t take as long as me to learn the lesson. But at least I did in the end and as they say, better later than never. and I’m well proud of it.

Dylan and Amanda play for WHAT

The Waterford Healing Arts Trust’s Healing Sounds music programme presented a live performance by Dylan Bible and Amanda Fardy in Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) on Thursday last, 6th March for the benefit of patients, staff and visitors.

Dylan Bible and Amanda Fardy both studied jazz at Leeds College of Music from 1995 to 2000, before settling back in their native Waterford City. Since then they have been teaching music at WIT and Abbey Community College.  Dylan and Amanda perform in various locations around the South East. The different line-ups include ‘The Moving Statues’ and the 6 piece band ‘Bossa Rocka’. Dylan is also a member of the ever popular ‘Butterfly Band’.

The performance in WRH began with Amanda singing a mellow set of popular Jazz songs such as ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse and ‘Don’t Know Why’ by Norah Jones accompanied by Dylan on guitar. Dylan also performed solo with the guitar and mandolin. The musicians then performed in the Renal Dialysis and Medical 1 wards where they were gratefully received by the audience.

The performance began in the Foyer of the hospital at 1.30pm and moved to a number of the wards.  Healing Sounds aims to provide an enjoyable diversion for patients, staff and visitors to the hospital through a programme of high quality live music performances.

Next week I will bring you news of the return of the Classic Car Show on Easter Sunday to the Woodlands.

Red Star
Variety Show

Local soccer club Red Star are running a variety night in the Woodlands Hotel this Friday, 14th March, at 9 o’clock. It promises to be a great night’s entertainment. It will be anchored by the great Enda Jackman, of this parish.

Another highlight will be an appearance by a super young ‘Elvis’ who has been getting rave reviews and will definitely be in the building. There will be lots of others too, including great door prizes. This event is a benefit night in aid of the club’s injury fund. This great local club

which had a winning season last year suffered a set-back some weeks ago when the container at their grounds was burned out resulting in considerable damage and loss to the club. So come along this Friday and you are sure to enjoy yourself.

Go seachtain eile, slan