Brewer's Droop #200

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Wow! This is the 200th Droop since 1997. I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly and I can’t believe what I’ve just done….

I’ve given up smoking.

I should quickly add here that I have NOT given up campaigning for the rights of smokers. I will never do that until it becomes illegal to do so.

Also, quicker still, I’d like to add that giving up smoking is a shit idea. I don’t feel any better. My senses of smell and taste have not improved (although I admit I may smell and taste better to others now) and about the only thing that’s improved is my bank balance. Oh yes, and to be fair, the morning cough has gone. But the overriding fact is that the craving has not gone. I feel like part of my character has been amputated. I miss my Partagas and Cohiba. My Cognac misses them more than I do.

So now I’m an official non-smoker AND supporter of equal rights for smokers. Smokers personify persecution. How else can you describe it? They’re made to go outside, stand far away and use their own ashtray. Lepers had a better deal. When you have, say, six pubs in one area, why, oh why, can’t just ONE of them be for smokers? It’s just astounding how much you can abuse a group of people without them rising up in retaliation.

In retrospect I’m not sure it was a good decision to quit. In fact it counts as one of the most painful experiences of my life (well at least equal to when Jacqueline Quince said she wouldn’t be my girlfriend when I was 7 years old).

I didn’t tell anyone for the first few weeks – mainly because I wanted to make absolutely sure I wouldn’t fail. It’s been over two months (and 5 kg’s weight gain) now, so I reckon I can speak with some authority. (At least I can speak without coughing my lungs up anyway).

People who are highly vocal about the unpleasantness of smoking tend to be uninteresting. I have many friends who have never smoked and they always mixed with smokers – laughing and joking and just being a joy to be with. The militant ones are different altogether.

My old adversary (who’s name I forget but I think is Saloojee or something like that) was boring right from the first time I met him – it was in a TV ‘green room’ waiting to go on to the set and discuss advertising bans. Oh my God he was SO boring….smoking is bad, alcohol is bad, caffeine is bad, fast food is bad…at which stage I stopped listening.

My point is that those who cannot TOLERATE people who smoke, drink alcohol and caffeine (I’ll stick with those three for the moment) are so deadly, absofuckinglutely dull. Dull. Dull. Dull.

If I was stuck on a desert island with one of them I would gladly wade into the sea and attempt a conversation with a Great White Shark or a highly-toxic Box Jellyfish (whichever swam past first).

Smoking was, in my experience anyway, a very elegant and sophisticated affair. It was Great Gatsby. It involved ladies with ridiculously long cigarette holders and long sparkly frocks ordering Pimms. It was James Bond lighting a cigar. It was Michael Caine smoking Gauloises in “The Ipcress File”. It was Humphrey Bogart, Micky Spillane and Dean Martin. It was Charlize Theron refusing to appear at an event in Johannesburg (after winning her Oscar) unless they made the entire restaurant a “smoking area” (which they did – the hypocritical bastards).

Those days are gone. It’s sad and I mourn them but we now know that smoking kills you, so I’d prefer to delay that for a while – you can’t smoke anywhere these days anyway.

But that isn’t enough for the Salojees of this world. They won’t be happy until we’re all non-smoking, non-drinking, non-caffeine-consuming, non-fast-food-eating drones like himself.

And the alcohol bannings? Well they’re winning those too. Do you honestly think we’ll stop them from banning booze ads on TV? And when they’ve done that they’ll start (as they did with tobacco) slowly but surely closing down all the places where you can drink. They’ll do it (and succeed) because they’re fanatical.

Then they’ll ban junk food and caffeine of course.

So South Africans must make a decision. Either you’re on the Salojee side and are against smoking, alcohol, coffee and fast food or you’re over on this side with the people who are telling jokes and laughing. It’s your choice.

By the way, the first person to use the F-word on TV was Kenneth Tynan during a BBC live debate. He said it in order to point out how silly it was that he couldn’t say it (all recordings were destroyed and none exist today). He was smoking at the time. You can’t smoke on television now, but you can say fuck as often as you like. There’s some irony in there somewhere.


One of the things that’s puzzled me for a long time is how many people died so that everyone could have a vote – and how an alarming number of people just casually couldn’t be bothered to either (a) use their vote or (b) understand what their vote means.

It’s amazing isn’t it?

I grew up in a working class railway town where my Grandfather was a shop steward in the union and most of my family worked for British Rail.

I used to enjoy talking to him about labour disputes and politics but the one thing that really puzzled me was his thoughts on the General Election vote (and he was a smart man). When I asked what party he thought was “best” his answer was “it’s not about which is the best, it’s about which one represents us.” He was referring to the class system in Britain (which was denied vehemently at the time but which still, of course, exists) and he added “this family always votes Labour.”

That was that. No discussion. Not even the slightest consideration for the Conservatives. It was “us” and “them”.

Of course, this changed as society moved forwards.

In South Africa, it’s incredible to watch the same scenario playing itself out again.

Nobody was surprised when the ANC won the first election. It had to, quite rightly, happen. But then my Grandad’s curious “us and them” theory came into play.

In Britain, the majority of the population knew, deep down, that their leaders were failing them and it reached a peak with Harold Wilson and his motley crew. How close was Britain to bankruptcy because they tried to run businesses though Nationalisation? It was a close thing. He devalued the Pound so many times that I lost count. At that time he restricted all holidaymakers to a foreign allowance limit of 50 quid a year (R100 in those days). You couldn’t get across the Channel for that.

And yet, just like my Grandfather, the majority continued to blindly vote for the “us” party – Labour – until reality kicked in and then Britain eventually found a clever new leader in Margaret Thatcher and the political scene changed forever.

It’s now overdue to happen here.

Eventually the ‘mindless’ majority are going to start asking themselves “hey, what’s in it for me? How come he lives in a palace and I’m still in a shack? Why am I even listening to that man who’s more interested in letting his mates out of prison and having children at a speed most rabbits would be proud of, than he is in getting me some water or electricity?”

Personally, I think the way forward is to pray that Zuma remains leader of the ANC and leads it into the next general election.

I think it will be a very, very close race.

This is an extract from a Czech Republic Main Daily Newspaper Editorial. Someone over there has it figured out.

“The danger to South Africa is not Jacob Zuma but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency…. The Republic can survive a Jacob Zuma, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President.”

Amen to that.

LASTLY, here are some REAL newspaper headlines:

“Worker suffers leg pain after crane drops 800 pound ball on his head”

“City unsure why the sewer smells”

“Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new attorney”

“Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25”

“Barbershop singers bring joy to school for deaf”

“Hospitals resort to hiring doctors”

“Parents keep kids home to protest school closure”

“Rally against apathy draws small crowd”

“Total lunar eclipse will be broadcast live on Northwoods Public Radio”

“Miracle cure kills fifth patient”

The Sun’s out and Summer’s coming!



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  1. Well done on the smoking Chris! Don’t think I’m ready to stop just yet though. The bit about “a multitude of fools” was spot on!!!

  2. Hmmmm I stopped smoking too, only three weeks ago and I get what you are saying, I even feel a bit boring now – sad isn’t it? But having watched loved ones dying from not being able to breath decided, at 54 years young, that it really was time. The best thing so far is that I can climb the stairs to my first floor office without dying half way up, now I only swtart dying whilst I’m putting on the kettle for the first cup of caffeine sans fag! Keep breathing!! xx

  3. Enjoy the bigget bank balance – the rest sounds BOOOORING! Great read – as always! I’m not ready to quit ‘scuse me… going for a smoke break’ ====”’

    • That’s right, go on, be nasty. Arrrrgh – just one puff?

  4. Congrats on your 200th Droop! Keep them coming.

  5. “Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25”
    Made me laugh and is sort of like the ANC Youth party where everyone is in their 30’s?

  6. Chris – I do not smoke at all – never even taken a puff out of curiosity. But I’m the staunchest pro-smoker around. I’m not activism, in fact, loathe the concept, but if you ever want to sign me up for a cause, a pro-smoking one would be it. Bring back the days where people smoked everywhere and anywhere. The team that put Armstrong on the moon smoked that room into a fog. Today, no one is allowed to smoke and we can’t make a car that lasts longer than 3 years.

    Smoking has become a metaphor for freedom. I’ll actively encourage smoking. Smoke ’em if you got ’em – stick it to the man. If you don’t smoke because you don’t WANT to smoke, that’s cool. But if you don’t smoke because you don’t want society to see you as a pariah, then “they” have won, and removed your freedom of choice.

    • Good man Gerry!

      If everyone was like you the world be a much better place.

  7. Hi Chris – excellent move – I stopped around 10 years ago. The good news is that you will probably still have the urge in 10, maybe more, years time!

  8. Smoking is easy to quit, I did it plenty of times! More seriously, I actually quit cigarettes 12 years ago, lost the urge now, but do enjoy a small cigar and a dop. Good on ya!.

  9. Good one Chris. Keep taking those willpower pills; 3 a day after meals. Ownie and I should each get some! Is there shock-treatment required somewhere in all of this?

  10. Chris, clearly you are still in the grumpy stage – it takes +- 3 months to really start feeling better. I have never looked back and I think I am pretty darn interesting and entertaining still. I can also join my friends in a good laugh without coughing. Splendid. You won’t be sorry.

  11. @Theresa. Aren’t you just the lucky one? I stopped 16 1/2 months ago: feel no better, food tastes just the same, still cough my lungs up and crave for a gasper every so often but thankfully people invite me back presumably because I’m ?interesting?entertaining? just an old fart? and am usually accompanied by a wife who smokes like a bloody chimney!

    She encourages me with the phrase “Non-smokers also die.”
    which phrase is passed on to Chris, free, gratis and for nothing to enable him to pass it on to Salojee and the rest of the gestapo.

  12. Congratulations on both counts, Chris. 200 columns AND quitting? Where’s Bullard now? I cannot believe Ian quit smoking. Blow me!

    • You never could explain what Snelling would do next. Have to hand it to him though – going on for 17 months (and we were both heavy smokers). Strong guy.

      As for Bullard, I expect he’s plotting a way to get hold of my cubans (as in cigars, not anything physiological)

      • Wow, Chris, for a moment you had me going. But then again, the thought of you and David and cuban heels… nah. I’m on forty a day and just had a couple of heart attacks. My brain tells me it is time to say goodbye, but I’ve been smoking since thirteen and am forty six now. And I’ve got some nice cigars left. And some pipe tobacco. And and and… You quit? Ian quit? I’m starting to think you guys and the doctors may, just may, have a point. Heck, I even went so far as to buy Allen Carr’s book. Haven’t had the gumption to read a word yet. And yet… and yet. Good on both of you. And many, many thanks for your continued Droops. They do help keep one sane!

        • Thanks Milan.

          You’ll know when you either (a) want to stop or (b) have to stop (or both). Until then, enjoy every drag!

  13. I would like to see the anti-smoke cops(and even the anti boozecops) do their thing in the odd 25,000 shebeens countrywide. The mind boggles

  14. Well done on the 200th droop Chris – welcome to the world of Ex Smokers………………..however there are some who say there is no such thing. They say we are merely Smokers who have given up buying and smoking our own – we continue to smoke other peoples cigarettes. Must say though that the taste buds are far more efficient these days – the Wine and Food tastes far better than it used to !

  15. Please please please tell me how you did it.
    I am out of breath walking to the kitchen to put the kettle on in the morning.
    I tried and almost made it for 2 days. Had a blinding headache and never coughed so much in my life.Maybe it will be a case of smoking giving me up!!!

    • I’ll explain all the boring details of how I did it. Will call you.

  16. Smoking was a rite of passage when I grew up and my fifteenth birthday marked the beginning of my official membership of the clan known as ‘the smokers’. Congratulations on my birthday were accompanied by a present [from my parents] of a cigarette case, a Dunhill cigarette holder and a beautiful lighter to match. We all smoked. We didn’t know it was harmful. We blew smoke….. no: I won;t go into that. Then the evidence started coming in – and I thought I had better stop smoking 15 years after I had started. Lovely habit. Sociable [have a cigarette]. And I just couldn’t do it. Then one day the phone rang and I lit a cigarette to go with the conversation that was about to start – and I realised I had three fags going – one in the ashtray, one alight in my left hand and one about to be lit in my right hand. That was a cigarette too far. But I still didn’t stop. It took a pregnancy to do that – and I have missed it every day since …. some 44 years ago. So – if you are a smoker, have one on me. If you aren’t, you’ve no idea what you’ve missed. If you are an ex-smoker, like Chris and me, allow us the luxury of boasting a little. But whatever, it has to rank as one of the most difficult addictions to kick. Good on you Chris – I never thought you’d do it.

    • Fascinating story Ba. It’s really interesting because you’ve always been so tolerant of smokers (thus great fun to be with).

      Unfortunately the pregnancy option wasn’t open to me so I had to resort to other (less drastic) measures!

  17. Well done Chris, on your 200th and kicking the habit! Your drink may miss the smoking but your lungs (and loved ones) will eventually thank you. Like everything there are good ones and bad ones – considerate smokers are a rarity but they do exist! Good on you for quitting!If you were meant to smoke you’d have had a chimney! PS Can’t wait for the abuse to start – interesting people can be so vocal!

  18. Ah yes, Michael Caine and those Gauloises! I remember them well. So cool!

  19. Gave up smoking cigarettes about 6 months ago. Console myself with the Partagas and Cohibas on the odd weekend. And I don’t consider that smoking – not sure that the odd cigar counts against us non smokers….and its a rare treat to be sure…..

    • The idea is very, very tempting Andrew…but I think I’ll wait for a few more months before I risk firing up a Corona!

      (Good for you though – well done).

  20. Chris, you cannot defend the fact that smokers are “pigs” they think the world is their own personal ashtray, flicking ash and throwing cigarette butts everywhere, if they were more considerate then maybe non-smokers would be more tolerant!

    • I wonder who’ll be the first to be “considerate” then?


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