Friday, 6 July 2012

Bad Girl - Or Am I?

I'm smoking again (after 18 months of being a good, boring girl). Shock horror!!!.  But I'm not because this isn't a real cig. yet see how realistic it is.  Last week I found myself having a cocktail in The Savoy with my chum Emily Evans Eerdmans, on a whistle stop visit to London researching her new book,  and then she took me along to Notting Hill to meet up with lovely Colette Van  Den Thillart who happens to live in this very apartment. Blimey.

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney 1970/71

Feeling un peu sophisticated already, I couldn't have been more pleased when  Colette's associate, legendary interior designer Nicky Haslam arrived looking fit and fabulous in a crisp white shirt, navy jacket and sand-coloured cotton pants of a tres au courant cut.  His boots of distressed leather had a whiff of Mad Max about them and a clue to Haslam's wild hinterland as a fearless setter of individual style and an adventurer in many senses of the word, not least socially.  Call him a wicked old snob but he only does it because he knows it teases and the fact is, his company is intoxicating and he is charming and engaging with everyone.  Oh do read my profile of him here if you have a mo.

Anyway, the point is that he produced an elegant black cigarette and puffed away contentedly.  It glowed red when he drew on it and emitted a harmless odourless vapour.  But the smoker gets a hit of nicotine which whilst addictive, I admit, is proved to aid concentration and clinical tests have shown that it can stave off senile dementure. Devoutly to be wished in my book.  .. Oh where was I?

.. happy in my study with my Easyciggy working away through my 500 puffs before I put it
in my virtual ash can and start a new one.  Easy as that.

But oh dear, just as I was warming to the idea, there was a bonkers incident on the motorway yesterday when a coach passenger, observing another messing about with something vaporous, deemed it suspicious and called 999.   The response involved 16 fire engines, 15 police vans, 12 police cars, ten undercover cop cars, an ambulance and incident control vans. It is good to know that in the run-up to the Olympics terrorist threats are taken seriously.. but the motorway was shut for seven hours causing untold grief and chaos.  Have a look here. (Oddly enough the article was written by my son who was just about to be given an easy-cig by me.)

I guess this has put paid to my childish fantasies of using my virtual cigarette in a restaurant or other congenial spot, now that smoking is universally outlawed, and waiting for the hysterical intervention  to occur. The sad thing is that smokers were inconsiderate of others' comfort but I was also shocked how rude and intolerant those others were becoming in a civilised society.   Let's hope there can be a truce with these totally harmless pleasure sticks now.  


  1. All I can say is "I want what you're smoking, angel." Great piece. I suspect you were too dedicated to now see the benefits of abstinence. Rather like me with the "what's your poison?" poison thingy. But cigarettes I stopped when I was 35. Almost yesterday really, in gay years.

  2. Columnist, oh I do see the benefits of abstinence to my health and appearance and to those in close proximity! But it's truly buggered up my writing. There was nothing sweeter
    than typing and chainsmoking but I knew I'd die before I finished my memoirs. Why is Life so paradoxically vexatious sometimes? By the way, if you get to London before I make
    it to Bangkok I would love to drink cocktails in the Savoy with you.

  3. Haha! I read about that ciggie incident on the guardian! And what a brilliant name for the perp: Vermilion von Kangur! And Alex's article was fab! Love the Sun's "style".

    Hope you're all well. We're suffering terribly here in 100*F heat, and with a massive storm last week that put out power to 3 million people in our area. Truly a nightmare.

    Love to all! xo

  4. One of your absolute best, this post.
    Loved every word of it and, as Nancy Mitford would say, I 'shrieked' throughout.
    Puff away, Lady West, and keep us smiling!

  5. Sounds like a delightful day to me, Dear Emily and then Haslam as well!

  6. There's nothin' like a bad girl. Nothin' in the world!

  7. Dear Rosie, Fantastic post! As an ex-smoker who is still held captive by the allure of a good cigarette I was taken in completely. Although I've been off cigarettes for 25 years I have enjoyed lighting up on rare occasion. Not to be telling tales out of school, but I have a very fond memory of puffing on a few with our mutual friend EEE on a glamorous rooftop garden atop a hipster hotel in NY a couple of summers ago. Your description of the motorway incident was brilliant!!

  8. Dear Rosie, Fantastic post! As an ex-smoker who is still held captive by the allure of a good cigarette I was taken in completely. Although I've been off cigarettes for 25 years I have enjoyed lighting up on rare occasion. Not to be telling tales out of school, but I have a very fond memory of puffing on a few with our mutual friend EEE on a glamorous rooftop garden atop a hipster hotel in NY a couple of summers ago. Your description of the motorway incident was brilliant!!

  9. Watching people in 1930s movies removing cigarettes from sleek platinum cases & lighting up with jeweled lighters, or, conversely, smacking an unfiltered Camel from a paper pack & striking a wooden match, made smoking seem totally glamorous, but for people like me--who never smoked--being in a bar or restaurant jammed packed with smokers was torture, and I couldn't wait to leave. Even so, I was taught early on (by smoking parents & grandparents)--not to make a scene or claim that I was "allergic" to smoke when I simply didn't like it. These days, when I see people gasping for air & waving their hands like semaphores whenever a smoker passes them on the sidewalk, I want to tell them to quit with the silent movie antics. Ofr course, robot cigarettes may have eliminated the problem of actual smoke, but let's face it, it's just a matter of time before the fussbudget crowd discovers that they're just as "allergic" to fake smoke as they are to the real thing. They may not wear weird hats or shoes with silver buckles anymore, but the Puritans are still with us, and the last thing they want is for anyone to have more fun than they're having.

    A few years back I took Amtrak to NY during a short period between the time that smoking was restricted to a glass-walled enclosure shoe-horned into one end of the lounge car, and the time, a few years later, when smoking was banned completely. Most of the Lounge Car (the part with the fresh air) was full of people reading or napping or listening to music on their headphones or quietly working on their laptops. No one even acknowledged the presence of anybody else, let alone spoke to any of them. It was like an Edward Hopper painting: alone in a crowd. You could get aot of work done--if you didn't glance down at the other end of the car.

    In the glass-walled Smoking Lounge, the vibe was less Edward Hopper than Heironymous Bosch. Those inside might have been hellishly hot & squeezed together elbow-to-elbow, but they were having a blast--laughing, drinking, and all of them talking at once. I'm sure it was that fact--the smokers' visible enjoyment of their disgusting vice---as much as it was concern over the poor wretches' health--that finally ended in the total ban of all smoking on board. All I know is that I've seldom been to a party half as lively as the one going on--among a group of strangers--in that tiny, smoky room. Kind of sad, in a way.

    Anyway, your afternoon with EEE & the heavy hitters sounds like a total delight. If I ever get to London, I'll call you up!

  10. Hey Meg! I gather you in the States, sweltering, and us in a permanent monsoon are on opposite edges of the ruddy Jet Stream that has
    slipped out of place this summer. It better move back to where it belongs before at least one nation tops itself.

    Toby Worthington, I'm just thrilled to be in the same sentence as Nancy Mitford. Thank you for this. I will indeed keep puffing.

    AD - Stefan, it was, it was delightful and we'd have loved you to join us.

  11. Blue, A Bad Girl : it's just a very tempting concept!

    Roy, thank you and how wonderful to join the smokers in transgression corner as and when the spirit moves you. If I smoke just one real one, I'm @**#ed. Alas.

    Simply Grand, the people who never smoked are the most sweet and tolerant like you I've found. What a brilliant piece you have written - all so resonant. How how I wish I could play
    it to those vexatious killjoys you refer to. The ban has ruined the social atmosphere of the English pub. Surely there could have been some accommodation with air conditioning? Now you see
    some hapless person sitting alone, guarding the chairs, whilst everyone else is smoking on the pavement. I suppose that's banned too across the pond? It will here soon I have no doubt.

  12. Greetings Rose, I do not have enough time but I like you and your blog!
    Kisses, Silvia \o/!!!

  13. And Greetings to you Silvia (Foquinha!) I love your blog too but I so wish it was in English. But always love the pictures! x Rosie

  14. What a fuss the artificial cigarette created in the media. Congratulations on quitting, it is not easy. I am your new follower and look forward to your visit and comments

  15. puff away in the privacy of your temple if it keeps you dashing off letters to Us all like this one & OFTEN! a meeting of the minds it sounds like in my book-TOp Drawer! xo to you. pgt

  16. blimey! blogger is tricky these days-what might be a full repeat here is to say again-keep puffing if it keeps you posting away to your fans. a brilliant gathering of style it sounds like at the Colette van den T's place. Keep them coming. pgt

  17. Dear Rosie, I adored this post, indeed I did. Gave up the evil and most delicious habit meself six years ago, although every once in a great while, maybe once or twice I year, I'll break down and have a couple on a really boozey evening, particularly if someone brings out a pack and offers it 'round the table. Which is exactly what EEE's husband did in our dining room this spring, much to everyone's squeals of joy, and Reggie most decidedly fell off the wagon and spent the evening smoking like a fiend. Loved every deep inhale of it, too. That is, except the next morning when all of us were holding our heads and crying out for bloody Marys to take the edge off. I loved my smoking days, and I loved all the stuff -- the ashtrays from expensive hotels and nightclubs of days gone by, the silver cigarette boxes, the lighters (one from dunhill lost to time and the other a zippo I still have), and more. I'd take it up in a heartbeat if it weren't so dang bad for us. But I console myself with one or two nights a year when I throw caution to the wind and smoke up a storm, just like the old days when I was young(er) and thought it look glamorous, and that I'd live forever! Best, Reggie

  18. Helen Tilston, thank you for acknowledging the massive effort of giving up.

    Gaye, thank you. I've been spoilt with kind comments on this post and it's encouraged me to keep going. I suppose you could say that Rose C'est La Vie is now in intensive care.

    Reggie Darling, loved your smoking confession! The Dunhill lighter, oh.. I had a beautiful silver one which I lost too dammit. Got caught smoking at Sherborne in my nightie in the prefects' room. When I was told to hand over my stuff, there was the Dunhill and the silver cigarette case ouch. At least I got them returned at the end of term. And a miracle I wasn't expelled.

  19. At the rate my mind is going, I may have to start injecting nicotine. There are moments where I think I've forgotten something at the house when I'm walking outdoors, and I've forgotten what it is, so it can't be all that important, then I remember it's important, but probably not That important.
    It wouldn't be so bad, except it takes the visual form of a man walking around in circles in his yard. If I lived in the burbs, someone would already have brought my wife a cake and some potato salad.

  20. rurritable, always love your contributions and they are as ever, hard to follow.


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