I've always been against smoking. Since the day I can remember, the fumes, the stench, the taste; nothing drew me to the “death sticks”. My mum used to smoke and I hated it. She would never do so around the kids, but you could smell it on her clothes and on her breath after she'd have a fag.
I have no idea whether that spurned my sister on to take up the habit, while my brother was the same. Then disaster struck – she was diagnosed with cancer. It may not have been as a result of smoking, but it was a wake up call nevertheless.
Anyway, she made a full recovery from her first bout before it made a relapse. She died on the 14th of September 2003, a heartbreaking day for my and my family and as a 15-year-old, an incident that would shape me for the remainder of my life.
I often thought to myself whether I would start smoking, but usually resisted the urge to despite my brother and my best friend taking it up. I managed to steer clear of the trend and, despite the odd fag or two on a night out a Uni – the dreaded social smoker – it never grasped me in its murky hands an enticed me into starting.
In the end, I moved to London with my then girlfriend, now ex, the f**king c**t that she is. We had a flat in Finchley, first with her friend, then a friend of a friend after the first housemate turned out to be a t**t of colossal proportions.
Anyway, life was pottering on nicely. I may've been in a s**t job at a highly revered retail outlet, struggling to force my way into the tough world of journalism, but I was happy – settled, if you will. Perhaps too much so.
A little over 12 months ago, she uttered the four words that is enough to bring any grown man to tears - “we need to talk”. My heart sank. We broke up. Well, she broke up with me, thus the aforementioned insult which I still stand by to this day. I fell into a state of manic depression. I tried to kill myself on two separate occasions, both with a knife to the wrist after having one double vodka, red bull too many.
I was stressed. Stressed that I couldn't find work in my desired field of practise. Stressed that I had to move home. Stressed that the girl I thought loved me turn out to be a fraud. I was merely a stepping stone, much like Tottenham Hotspur were to Dimitar Berbatov.
I had to relieve the pressure somehow and that's when it started. “Dave*”, I asked. “Can you make me a rollie?” I needed something, anything to take the demonic thoughts of depression and death out of my mind.
I didn't want to turn to alcohol; it just wasn't me. It began with that one rollie. I couldn't roll on my own and it would p**s my brother and friend off that I couldn't. “Why don't you f**king learn?!” they often barked at me.
It never stopped them from doing so, nevertheless. But, with the ever increasing cost of fags, I knew I had to. Either way, once I started I couldn't stop. I've tried before, going three days without a cigarette, which ultimately led to me feeling miserable, anxious and just a downright pain in the a**e.
One day I'll quit; maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe when I'm old and grey. But at the moment, no sir – quitting smoking isn't an option. I still use the time to smoke to relieve stress. When I have writers block or have written so much that I need a break; it's the best time to light up. The yellow finger nails, breathe worse than a badgers a**ehole and the possibility of developing cancer – I couldn't give a f**k at the moment.
And it's the stress of everyday life that continues to see me stroll to the backdoor, have a play on Twitter and enjoy the first fag of the day, any time from 12pm onwards.
*This name isn't correct – I don't have a brother called Dave. But I do have a brother who smokes.