Three rather priceless pieces about smoking. Very bad habit, I am glad I've given it up, and yet there's no doubt in my mind that if I could get a free pass on one bad habit (you know, no bronchitis, no long-term health consequences) that would be the one...
Here's Germaine Greer:
I guess I began to smoke regularly at university, because everybody else was smoking. Even my English tutor sucked on a cigarette the entire time she had eight or nine of us imprisoned in her tiny room; she would spell out the spatial relationships in a poem such as Gerard Manley Hopkins's Wreck of the Deutschland with her fag pack and her box of matches, voicing the lines round the cigarette that hung from her nether lip. Dragging on my own fag was the only way to avoid the nausea reflex that other people's smoke can still trigger. If others in a group are smoking, I'll smoke; if not not. For years I smoked only OP's - other people's. I can work for eight or nine hours in a library without feeling any kind of craving for a cigarette, but I'll probably light up on the way home, if there's a cigarette in the car. If there's not, I won't make a special stop to get some.
In the 1950s my fellow students were smoking cork-tipped Virginia cigarettes, Craven A, Ardath, De Reszke (pronounced Dee Rezeek), and Du Maurier, which always struck me as dry and tasteless. Tough guys smoked untipped cigarettes, Senior Service and Pall Mall. The more adventurous - or pretentious - smoked exotic cigarettes, Black Sobranie or Passing Clouds. My mates and I followed the example of Picasso, Sartre, Camus and Orwell; we smoked Gauloises "brunes". And I still would, if I could ever find them. The last French factory making them shut down nearly two years ago.