Smokin’ Hot in Hell

It is a curious thing.

When one changes the social and physical environment that surrounds oneself, changes in behaviour can follow. But not necessarily the big stuff, such as suddenly learning a new language, how to trampoline or ‘poodle fettling’ with unwilling poodles. I have no desire to immerse myself in the intracacies of Arabic, rigourous bouncing up and down while risking testicular damage or going anywhere near a dog. Rather, the smaller things can change almost without conscious awareness. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the swimming pool in the lunchtime sunshine here in Bahrain, I am aware of just one change. There are no doubt others, but one will do for now.

I have wrenched myself from the cold dark North where the snow falls and the temperature drops faster than a blind, one armed juggler drops his balls. The comfort and routines of home are no longer available and this means there is opportunity for change. It must be the disconnection from familiarity, and the restraints of more wiser voices of family and friends, that allows us to drift slowly downstream into the tiny eddies of miscreance. Being on foreign soil is somewhat exotic, be that the palm fringed swimming pool of a five star hotel, the tea shops of the local Souk or finding oneself walking around lost, blinking at the early morning sunshine, at a roundabout at six am after a nights clubbing in Ibiza. Exotica can have strange effects upon one’s judgements about the proper course of action. Mix exotic locations with alcohol and you have the perfect recipe for moral degeneracy if not outright moral outrage. Ah, I remember Cyprus in 1977.


I have noticed that when on holiday in a warmer climate, that I tend to take up smoking.

I was once in Paris, actually sitting at a cafe table on the fabled Left Bank where the ghosts of Simone de Beauvoir, philosopher and feminist, and Jean-Paul Sartre, philosopher and roué, could be felt. Simone and Jean-Paul used to take their morning coffees and cigarettes in the spring sunshine when they would discuss existential issues and the price of cabbage over a pain au chocolate before retiring to the cool of their room in the afternoon to indulge in a little light mutual exchange of titillation à la mode.

I imagine a small silver ashtray with a few lipstick stained Gitanes or Gauloises stubs scattered within, or a half finished cigarette floating its blue vapour into the afternoon air balancing on its side. The association between French cigarettes and the chic glamorous world of the Boulevard St Germaine is particularly strong, for what reason Je ne sais quoi. Perhaps black and white films from both Hollywood and France have indelibly marked my psyche. The beautiful actresses (they were actresses back then, not actors) smoked like the 19th century Manchester skyline – think of the iconic Audrey Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. They’d no more be seen without a cigarette than they’d stick a feather up their arse and do the chicken dance.

There was nothing chic or glamorous about cycling down that very Boulevard with broken spokes on a back wheel. The wheel had threatened to disintegrate underneath me with every wobbly turn. I guess falling face first into a dog shit and litter strewn Parisian gutter would have disqualified me for ever from claiming any degree of panache in any endeavours thereafter. Nonetheless, France and cigarettes remain ‘cool’ and will be so forever associated.

Yet, I am not in France. So why the lapse into what is generally regarding as a filthy habit?

I’m not here to impress anyone, there is no one to impress, and with a face like mine that is a tall order in any case. I don’t have to look cool or chic at all. I can’t use the excuse of having been out on the Bonneville, which is of course another James Dean like trigger.

Is it doing me harm? At my age? It’s a bit late to start thinking about healthy living. The damage is already done by years of quaffing ale and stuffing pasties. My arteries resemble the London sewers clogged with fat bergs that only industrial strength sink blockers and a bulldozer can shift. I calculate that before the health risks of 2 fags a day, when on foreign soil, start hitting me… I’ll be about 85. I’ll be beyond caring and probably be looking for any manner of unhealthy habits to add to the occasional puff on a coffin nail. I might take up skydiving, crack cocaine and watching EastEnders. I might even start putting sugar in my tea and poking bull terriers’ arseholes with a hot poker designed for the very purpose. I’ll cross the road without looking, not bother with clean underwear in case I get run over, and eat cheese three weeks after its best before date. I’ll not look before I leap, and I’ll tread where angels fear to. I’ll argue with big fat dockers in pubs, I’ll tell them their wives are ugly and are only surpassed in ugliness by themselves. I’ll suggest their mothers slept with HMS Ark Royal. I’ll buy another motorcycle and do 60 in a 30 zone with out wearing a helmet and honk my horn at policemen while giving them the one fingered salute. I’ll step on cracks in the pavement and not wash behind my ears. I’ll tell the big bad wolf to fuck off. I’ll order full fat with everything and ensure my chips are smothered in hot chilli sauce, and not bother to put the loo roll in the fridge in readiness for the next morning. I’m going to have ‘Reckless’ tattooed on my forehead and a scorpion on my willy. I’ll say rude words to the vicar and set light to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s cassock. I’ll draw cartoons of the prophet and publish them with my name address and email.

I’ll tweak the nose of death and twist the nipples of insanity.


Who cares. I like it. I’m smoking about 2 a day with a cold beer in the evening. I may stop when I get to Jeddah.

Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: