Virginia Barton

1 February 2014: The diabolical weed and other habits

1 February 2014


For years I was a heavy smoker. The nursing profession in the ‘fifties was riddled with smokers, like the rest of society.

Smoking PatientBoth my parents smoked, and we were accustomed to the wraiths of pale blue from Daddy’s pipe, and that distinctive scent of burned tobacco. He promised each one of his daughters £25 if we hadn’t smoked by the time we were 21.

Only one of the four of us claimed the money, and it wasn’t me.


Most of my meagre wages went on cigarettes and gin. (What kind of a nurse was she, for goodness’ sake?) But it was all a pose. I thought it made me look grown-up and sophisticated. Possibly taller, chic.

The gin drinking at least never took hold, thank the Lord.

Smoking was another matter, and by the time I married I was hooked. Constantly sick when expecting our first baby, I gave it up, and didn’t start again till we went to Hong Kong the following year where cigarettes were so cheap it seemed silly not to enjoy them. About 1/6d (that’s about £1.71 in today’s money) for a pack of Winstons!

Hey ho, the silly girl didn’t stop again until forced to by serious illness in ’91.

Four-Hershey-Kisses (2)

Why am I telling you this boring history of a (fairly) penitent ex-smoker who would start again tomorrow, all things being equal?

Because now chocolate has replaced the diabolical weed.

The thought of up-sizing trouser or skirt is too depressing – but not scary enough to prevent me stuffing my face every day with the black, the milk, and the white.


Can anyone offer a good wheeze for breaking the habit?



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