As Roger told me last week; most people expect me to announce I'm giving up smoking and then expect to see me with a fag on the go within 45 minutes. Despite having had some valiant attempts at quitting, friends appear to view my stopping as just a whim. You see I had no willpower, so expecting me to change the way my life is was always going to be a tough one.
That said, I'm not crowing about 60 hours. I'm still not through the first 3 days, which are the most difficult. Smoking is all about 3s in many ways. I was once told by a no-smoking 'expert' that 3 days is how long it takes the body to expunge nicotine from it. Yep, just 3 days*. 3 weeks is when the re-wired mind starts to convince the rest of your brain that you've cracked it, so why not just celebrate by having a cigarette. It appears that the 3 day, 3 week and then 3 month periods are the ones that tend to screw up any valiant effort. The 3 month mark is apparently the most insidious, because it wins in over 50% of cases. My 3 months will be New Year's Eve...
*Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, but it also has very quick purging abilities. You might be craving a cigarette after 5 days, but trust me, it isn't the nicotine you want its the succession of the habit. Smoking is a ritualistic habit and breaking that is key to successfully stopping.
Now, this 60 hours... I'm sort of going cold turkey. I woke up yesterday morning, still feeling really rough from the virus I appear to have picked up and because my throat felt like it had been attacked by a rasp, I figured I didn't need to use the stockpile of patches I'd got. I kept myself busy and only once or twice during the day did I start to get antsy. However, by the time the night rolled around I started to get bad tempered and irascible. Then I struck upon a good idea.
Sleep, when you stop smoking, becomes a real problem, especially for me. I started to grow apprehensive as the evening wore on. Would I be able to get to sleep, was I going to wander around like a bear with a sore head and an Uzi machine gun? Then I struck a clever idea - whether its a good idea is debatable, but it was certainly clever. I put one half of a nicotine patch on at about 9 o'clock Friday night; went to bed just after midnight and slept through the night, only struggling to initially get to sleep because of the wife's snoring...
Woke up at 10.30 feeling better first thing than I have in years. I repeated the process on Saturday night. Half a patch at about 8 or 9, then I'll do the same for tonight and Monday; then on Tuesday through to Friday I'll just put on a quarter patch. By which time I will have been stopped a week.
I'm also trying to change my routine. As I said once before, its easier for hardened 40 a day types to stop, because they find it easier to change their routines. This, for me, means less time spent on the PC, more time spent doing things that I avoided - like watching TV - and a couple of other things. But above all else, I feel like I want to succeed this time (that said, I don't think I ever went into previous attempts with any different feelings) and I think it will be positive all around.
There are some not so good things about it. Without putting too fine a point on it - I sweat - big time. Just 60 hours in and last night I changed my night T-shirt twice. In previous attempts, I've sweat so much during the night that I've saturated the quilt cover and had to change pillows. I'm expecting the same this time, but I'm preparing for it. There's a spare pillow already in our room; I have a stockpile of T-shirts at the ready and I've informed the wife there's a good chance that at some point in the night I may just turn the quilt over.
Roger said at the pub last night, "think of the money you'll save" and after doing a quick bit of mental arithmetic, I'm considering reinstating the trip to India next year - I could probably save enough money over the next year to afford it again.
Watched Monsters on Friday. In case you've not heard about it, it is a British film shot entirely in Central America and Mexico. It cost an alleged $55,000 to make and looks as though it was made for considerably more. It is the story of a photo-journalist who is charged with the job of bringing his boss's daughter back from Central America. Back through a place called the Infected Zone...
6 years earlier, NASA, thinking it had detected forms of life in the universe, sent a probe out to find these 'seeds'. On return, the probe crashed in Northern Mexico and within weeks, monstrous alien creatures started to grow. The entire area was sealed off - by a giant concrete wall on the US side and by a high electrified fence on the Mexican side. The journalist and his boss's daughter, after being robbed of their tickets, passports and money, have to take their chances across the Infected Zone (why no aeroplanes other than fighter jets were flying is never explained, but...) or wait months, possibly years before they can get another ferry or form of transportation.
What follows is essentially a low key road movie with a burgeoning love story thrown in. The boss's daughter at first reviling the journo, eventually sees that there is more to him than just bluff, bluster and money. The special effects are almost non-existent, there are only 4 scenes in the 94 minutes where you get to see monsters and most of these are at night; but it doesn't prevent the feeling of real menace and the unknown.
There are also a number of very telling bits of dialogue. The most important, I feel, is on their journey, the two Americans (both played by Brits) discover that the monsters pretty much leave people alone unless they're hassled. It appears they just want to exist. However, the USA and Mexico are waging non-stop war against them and that's made these strange octopus like creatures rather pissed off.
Whether these things could peacefully co-exist is doubtful, given man's predisposition to blow things up it doesn't understand; but we are treated to a scene near the end which shows that the monsters might not be the monsters in the title. In fact, it leaves you feeling that perhaps man is the monster and the monsters are just quite benign.
It's a really good film; but don't expect much to happen in terms of pyrotechnics and special FX. It pans out like an indie film and because of that it makes this film all the more remarkable. One of the best films I've seen this year and one that really shows humanity up for all its failings...
Speaking of which; we sat down and followed Monsters by watching the first two episodes of the new NBC sci-fi series The Event.
Are you missing Flash Forward? Then have no fear, here's a custom made replacement. I don't know if this is just a generic style TV thing, but why do these major network SF shows all seem to be... I dunno... Inhabited by unbelievable characters? Flash Forward felt like a bunch of people thrown together to make a series (yes, I know, life has a habit of doing that every day, but...) and as a result you struggled to like any of the characters, even the little Korean Dimitri.
The Event - with which the wife can't extricate from Mitchell and Webb's The Quiz Broadcast - REMAIN INDOORS - appears to be about a group of 'aliens' who crash land in Alaska in 1945. 97 of them are taken into custody; some escape and form sleeper groups within society. The 'aliens' look exactly like us (handy that) but are 2% different in their DNA and age at a very slow rate - in 65 years they don't appear to have aged more than a couple of years. They appear to be benign benefactors, but can't perform this role because the US government has them imprisoned.
But that doesn't appear to be what its about at all. It appears to be about a young guy who takes his girlfriend on a Caribbean cruise and falls into a mega-conspiracy which appears to be designed to make the world think he's mad. Over a series of flash backs, we learn not a lot at all about what's happening. We have a Cuban-origin President of the USA - in the Obama stylee; we have an agent for the CIA, who just happens to be a sleeper 'alien' and we have a shady group of individuals, who, it seems, wants to keep the 'aliens' from being freed and are capable of rewriting the present faster than the speed of light. Do I sound confused? That's because I am, slightly. It wasn't bad and I've not covered half of what happened - it also involves a quasi-governmental cover up; the disappearance of a Jumbo jet; the senseless killing of all the passengers; the girlfriend's family being used as bait and the evil bastard from Heroes playing an evil bastard.
However, the main point is that it is similar in some ways to Monsters in that the US government is not portrayed in a very humanitarian way. In fact, very few of the Americans in the first two episodes are decent upstanding law abiding nice guys. US TV seems to be acknowledging that Americans who are in some way related to the government or law enforcement or just public servants, just ain't very nice.
I half expect not to be watching this by the time it's cancelled.
Haven Update: It's still shit, but it's my shit!
What happens when you merge Glastonbury and men with sticks? You get Celtic Manor in Wales, home of this year's Ryder Cup. If it wasn't for the fact that this crown jewel sporting event is contested by 24 millionaires, I'd feel really sorry for the multi-billionaire owner of the club and all the minor millionaires involved in its production and completion.
An aside to this; I thought it hilarious that the Americans had to go and buy some proper water proof clothing after the stuff they brought with them from the Nevada desert just wasn't up for actually stopping the rain...
David Cameron reckons the austerity measures might not be as bad for many as most people fear. It's a good sound bite, unfortunately, no one has analysed the term 'for many', which will not include everyone that jointly earns under £50k a year. But for those of you that do earn a combined wage of over £50k; don't worry, you're going to be all right!
Presumably, that 'for many' won't include the estimated 500,000 public sector workers who will be hating the austerity measures come this time next year.
It's stopped raining!