Yesterday we sat outside a pub in Kingsand in Cornwall. I noticed as we looked around at the twenty or thirty people we could see, that no-one was smoking.  This is one area where progress is being made.

I have never smoked. Not even one drag. I put this down to two experiences when I was a child.

The coal fire
I used to sit on the hearth beside the coal fire and gaze at the fire.  We used low grade coal and as I watched the fire burning, occasionally very thick greenish smoke would start coming out of a fissure in a lump of coal.  This would often be followed by a dribble of disgusting looking liquid,  from the hole. 

The buses
Like most people in the fifties we did not have a car and we travelled everywhere by bus.  All of the buses had a notice in the down stairs section saying “Smoking and spitting are strictly prohibited” (upstairs only spitting was prohibited).

My child’s mind equated the smoking with the coal, and the spitting with the goo that came out of the coal.  This was reinforced by the disgust I felt at the then common practice of spitting in the street (a habit that now seems to reserved for football players on the pitch). I thought they were getting rid of great gobs of phlegm and tar.

Anyway these were enough to put me off smoking for life, and the later confirmed link to cancer reinforced my aversion still further.

Had we had a gas fire, or could have afforded better coal, and a had car I may have been a smoker. I find that strange to imagine.

Why have I never even tried it?  Well I have not tried eating dog shit either, but I find the thought equally repulsive.

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