Thursday, February 09, 2017

Intolerance of unconventional quitting methods

It's well over two years since I quit smoking and I'm largely detached from quit-line but I still pop in to the blogs over there.

I don't have any real stats, but I'm picking that far more people fail on each attempt than succeed. This CDC fact-sheet says that over 50% of US smokers attempted to quit in 2015. That smoking rates are only slowly decreasing means that only a relatively small number of quitters succeed each time, but given we all know of ex smokers who did give up after multiple attempts it's reasonable that people who try hard enough and often enough can succeed.

In my time there I've seen quite a few cases of people trying to quit using various methods. This time I used Champix, a brain receptor blocker, with other common methods being cold turkey, nicotine (NRT), and vaping. I think I tried everything except vaping over the years. Nothing against vaping, I was going to use it last time, but tried Champix instead.

When someone who is using the conventional quitting methods fails people tend to minimise that they were using these methods but when someone is using an unconventional method it is very easy to blame the method. I have noticed that people who are in the "not-smoking, still craving" stages of giving up smoking can often be very judgmental.

There's always been a divide between the people using the various methods with negative propaganda often aimed at the NRT and vaping schools by cold turkey advocates. Interestingly the most vocal opponents of vaping are often the ones who fail a short time later.

Occasionally someone who is a few hundred days quit will slip up and have one, when they try to discuss this and say they have no intention on winding the clock all the way back to day one they are pilloried by people who have only just quit and often are the same people who harass the vapists.

There are also some people who intend to quit but as a step on the way are radically reducing their amount smoked, for example from 45 a day to 1 a day. Some of the strongest invective I've seen on the site has been directed against people who have attempted to reduce as a step on the way to quitting. I don't get it, having one a day is a lot better than having 45 a day and if that is a useful step on going to being completely smoke free I fail to see the problem.

Of course, I feel they would be even better off having zero a day, but that has to be their choice. On the other hand, it is Quit-line not Reduce-line. The purpose is to get us off cigarettes completely. All of us there accept that we need to get to that point and encourage others to do the same.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Most Influential Albums of my High-School years

Fellow comedian Neil Thornton posted this list of the top ten most influential  albums of his high-school years, although he must have been a slow learner as his cover a 17 year period.  I've kept to the years 1970 to 1974 when I was at high-school. The top ten most influential albums of my high-school years (in year order, then alphabetic) are:


  • Jesus Christ, Superstar. Religion, but a questioning religion that put the protagonists in a more naturalistic contemporary place than the empty rituals of the established churches. I wonder how much the religious revival in the west in the late 70s and later came from this treatment.
  • Let It Be the twelfth and final studio album by the Beatles. I started seriously listening to pop music this year, they ended as I started.
  • Lola Versus Powerman, The Kinks. Even though I couldn't discuss it then I found LOLA inspirational. "Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.
    It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,
    Except for Lola. Lo lo lo lo Lola."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. They were the climax of the surreal skit trend in British broadcast comedy that began (for me) with the Goons and wouldn't rise to such levels again until collapse and a fresh start from Alternative Comedy in the 1980s.


  • Electric Warrior T-Rex - Bang a gong, get it on. Nothing deep, just loved their music. I was 13 and 2nd year high-school.


  • Transformer. Lou Reed. Holly came from Miami F-L-A, hitch hiked across the U-S-A, plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs then he was a she. -- I just typed that from memory, then checked. I had it word perfect but the punctuation needs correcting. This story of Holly Woodlawn (1946-2015) was another that resonated with me and another I could never express at that time.
  • Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie. It's hard to pick one David Bowie album from the 1970-1974 era, he was so influential. I picked this one because it was the medium of my coming to appreciate him as an artist.


  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John. At the time it seemed he lived his life like a candle in the wind. Like Bowie it's difficult for me to pick a single album as most influential. Unlike Bowie I always saw him as an entertainer and in 1970 to 1974 he had hit after hit, album after album. In the end I picked this one for Bennie and the Jets, Candle in the wind , Funereal for a friend and the title track.
  • Solo Concert, Billy Connolly. I do stand-up because I saw Billy Connolly on stage. I saw Billy Connolly on stage because I heard him on vinyl. Without this album Billy Connoly would probably never have been the big star he became at the right time for me to be influenced by him.
  • The Rocky Horror Show, Original London Cast Recording. My person preference is for the slightly later Picture Show (RHPS) recording, but that's outside the time frame and without the original stage-show there may never have been a RHPS so I'm describing this as influential.

1974: Try as I might I can't think of anything from 1974 that I would regard as more influential than the above 10. Sure there were songs I liked, but looking back from 40 years later, nothing that registers strongly enough to bump one of the others off.

Thanks to Neil Thornton for the idea.