Conversations about Smoking

If you were caught smoking at school in our day, you were summarily expelled. My father would have whipped us and removed all privileges. Perhaps we would have ended up as labour in the building game. But we had no desire to smoke. I tried three Marlb

Smoking sheep on the spit,late sixties in Alberton

oros at the end of my medical degree, because a few of my friends smoked. That was it. I never continued. But isn’t it funny how many doctors do smoke?

One evening when we were all at school my father came home. Those were the days before automobile air-conditioning and we could smell his cigarette smoke as he pulled into the garage. We were all waiting outside for him. Most days he came back late at night after meetings for the community, the Federation and SAHETI. He then left early to work efficiently in the office before the staff arrived. So I remember him arriving home that day. But we were quite vicious. We would not allow him inside the house with a lit cigarette, and as far as I know he never smoked after our little campaign.

I think we hated smoking from our exposure to smoking in Greece. I remember one year when my brother and I went alone and we caught the bus to Tripolis. It was the same shape as the American Greyhound of the sixties, rounded back, but without the corrugations. Instead of silver, these buses were splashed with blue and white to fly the Greek flag as they chugged along. Also, I do not think the American Greyhound buses had roof racks. The Greek buses had roof racks with chickens and goats tied on.

The driver was in complete control and had immense support from all the icons, good luck charms and lucky money around his cockpit. He was also in charge of the heavy laika music that emanated from the speakers on the roof, but which would easily be confused with some goat mating ritual on the roof rack.

In winter the windows of the bus were always closed in case someone caught a chill, and the airline type vents above never worked. There was always a blue cordite haze at head height bubbling against the lower yellow sulphurous mix from the cigarettes everyone smoked. Including the driver. I seem to think they smoked cheap Middle Eastern cigarettes with Greek names but Turkish tobacco. No fancy American brands here.

When we eventually got off at the basement bus station in Tripolis we had been thoroughly fumigated. After the short taxi trip to the village we still stank of smoke. In the clear mountain air with earthy smells of sheep in the stables and potatoes stored in the cellar the smell still lingered. In the rooms upstairs every fibre of out anoraks leeched out blue yellow fumes and we stank until we got back home to South Africa, hoping to get a seat in the Olympic Airways non-smoking section. This was the front half of the plane where they were allowed to smoke occasionally, as opposed to the smoking section where they chain-smoked.

Isn’t it odd how many doctors smoke and how the Greeks were scared of a chill from fresh air but not lung cancer from smoking?

If you were caught smoking at school in our day, you were summarily expelled. My father would have whipped us and removed all privileges. Perhaps we would have ended up as labour in the building game. But we had no desire to smoke. I tried three Marlboros at the end of my medical degree, because a few of my friends smoked. That was it. I never continued. But isn’t it funny how many doctors do smoke?

One evening when we were all at school my father came home. Those were the days before automobile air-conditioning and we could smell his cigarette smoke as he pulled into the garage. We were all waiting outside for him. Most days he came back late at night after meetings for the community, the Federation and SAHETI. He then left early to work efficiently in the office before the staff arrived. So I remember him arriving home that day. But we were quite vicious. We would not allow him inside the house with a lit cigarette, and as far as I know he never smoked after our little campaign.

I think we hated smoking from our exposure to smoking in Greece. I remember one year when my brother and I went alone and we caught the bus to Tripolis. It was the same shape as the American Greyhound of the sixties, rounded back, but without the corrugations. Instead of silver, these buses were splashed with blue and white to fly the Greek flag as they chugged along. Also, I do not think the American Greyhound buses had roof racks. The Greek buses had roof racks with chickens and goats tied on.

The driver was in complete control and had immense support from all the icons, good luck charms and lucky money around his cockpit. He was also in charge of the heavy laika music that emanated from the speakers on the roof, but which would easily be confused with some goat mating ritual on the roof rack.

In winter the windows of the bus were always closed in case someone caught a chill, and the airline type vents above never worked. There was always a blue cordite haze at head height bubbling against the lower yellow sulphurous mix from the cigarettes everyone smoked. Including the driver. I seem to think they smoked cheap Middle Eastern cigarettes with Greek names but Turkish tobacco. No fancy American brands here.

When we eventually got off at the basement bus station in Tripolis we had been thoroughly fumigated. After the short taxi trip to the village we still stank of smoke. In the clear mountain air with earthy smells of sheep in the stables and potatoes stored in the cellar the smell still lingered. In the rooms upstairs every fibre of out anoraks leeched out blue yellow fumes and we stank until we got back home to South Africa, hoping to get a seat in the Olympic Airways non-smoking section. This was the front half of the plane where they were allowed to smoke occasionally, as opposed to the smoking section where they chain-smoked.

Isn’t it odd how many doctors smoke and how the Greeks were scared of a chill from fresh air but not lung cancer from smoking?

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s