I must quote you a fantastic bit from Pamela.

The eponymous heroine and fiancé Mr B are discussing how she will spend her time once they are married. She enumerates a long list of useful and improving activities, including family management, keeping accounts, visiting the unhappy poor in the neighbourhood, assisting the housekeeper in the manufacture of jellies, comfits, sweetmeats, marmalades and cordials, driving in Mr B’s chariot, listening to Mr B’s ‘instructive conversation’, entertaining ladies of quality, playing cards, music, reading, writing, and of course praying to God in thanks for ‘all the blessings I shall receive at the hands of Providence, by means of your generosity and condescension’. (I think Pamela would become slightly annoying after a while.)

Mr B points out that she has, in fact, omitted one important item from the list of duties expected of a newly married woman.

What delight do you give me, my beloved Pamela, in this sweet foretaste of my happiness! I will now defy the saucy, busy censures of the world; and bid them know your excellence, and my happiness, before they, with unhallowed lips, presume to judge of my actions, and your merit! And let me tell you, my dearest girl, that I can add to your agreeable enumeration my hopes of a still more pleasing amusement for you, though it is what your bashful modesty would not permit you to hint at; and which I will now no further touch upon, lest it should seem, to your nicety, to detract from the present purity of my good intentions, than to say, I hope you will have, superadded to all these, such an employment, as will give me a view of perpetuating my happy prospects, and my family at the same time; of which I am almost the only one, in a direct line.”

Or as we would put it nowadays, in our coarse, modern fashion:


Girl magnet

A curious thing happened yesterday. I had a super day walking, doing weights, then swimming and yoga with Jane, then a few pints in the pub and a game of Go with my friend Donald. The people at the next table were obviously intrigued by what we were up to and started asking us what the game was and all about the rules ekcetera. So if I go in there with the board I will probably find a game.

That was not the curious thing though, as when Donald went to the loo, a girl stopped by our table and said to me “I’ve been sitting over there for a while and I couldn’t help noticing that you have really nice legs.” (I was wearing shorts.) I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this as obviously she had had a couple, but then I do have really nice legs so maybe she was just very observant. We had a short discussion about whether I work out (yes), and then she departed again.

That does not happen to me very often, and she was quite hott looking, so I can only conclude it was the Universe taking the piss out of me in some subtle way. Also she seemed to be there with a man, so whether it was her boyfriend or not I do not know, but if he had not been there perhaps I would have gone over and continued the conversation later.

Perhaps she was trying to recruit me for a bizarre threesome, like in Alan Partridge: “Excuse me, I don’t want to be part of your sex festival.”

Anyway I think I will be popping into the Dignity more often.

Wizzo Cornwall

This car is not from the motor pool

I had an enjoyable drive across England; the A303 is a lot more fun than the motorway, featuring mighty hills, hairpin bends, tractors, and Stonehenge! Any road is a lot of fun with an Audi.

It was super hot weather, and I saw this man having a barbecue on his truck! As you can see he has a patriotic chair to sit down in and eat his Scania-burger.

Majestic Apollo, the Sun, enmired by the leaden clouds of e’en (good writing)

Possibly Britain’s most inviting snack bar.

More pictures of Mr Lard enjoying his holiday :D

The Year of Living Safely

I forgot to say that yesterday marked a year since I quit smoking :D

First off, quitting smoking is real easy. You just do not smoke any cigarettes. Staying quit is easy too - just apply the same technique. That’s not the difficult bit.

The really difficult bit is deciding to quit in the first place. Sometimes the ‘chief executive’ part of our brain has a discipline problem with his staff. It is easy to convince yourself to do something you already want to do; for example, take the day off work and go to the beach. Much harder to work against your existing inclinations; for example, not to have that seventh bowl of ice-cream.

The strange thing is that all smokers want to give up, without exception. Non-smokers will find this hard to believe. No matter how much you claim to love smoking, if you could wake up tomorrow morning and be magically free forever of the desire to smoke, everyone would take that deal. So why don’t we quit?

The answer lies in the curious nature of addiction. If you have never been addicted to anything, it is hard to imagine what it is like. Most people probably imagine that it is like being thirsty - you experience an intense desire for the drug, accompanied by symptoms of physical distress which are only relieved by the drug. That is true as far as it goes, but addiction also digs its pernicious tendrils right into the volitional centres of the brain. It makes you do things you do not want to do.

It is actually rather spooky once you realise what is going on. Nicotine (for example) is controlling your decisions. It is no different than if some evil alien implanted a chip in your brain and started influencing your behaviour by radio control. If you find this hard to believe, ask yourself this question: Have you ever decided not to have a cigarette, and then found yourself smoking one anyway? Have you ever done something embarrassing or inconvenient to get a nicotine fix? (for example, begging strangers in the street for cigarettes, or walking miles to find an open newsagents).

Why do we do that? It is because of fear. We are afraid to be without the drug. Rationally, we know that we’ll be just fine. No one died of not having cigarettes, no matter how much she wanted one. If you are in a situation where you know absolutely that there is no chance of getting cigarettes, anxiety disappears, and in fact you suffer no ill effects. It is as though the nicotine ‘gives up’ and saves its effort for another day. But up to that point we will do almost anything in our power to get the drug.

If the prospect of going without nicotine for an evening fills us with anxiety, how much more frightening is the prospect of a whole life without it? Exactly. When I was still smoking, even thinking about giving up made me nervous and edgy, and start reaching for cigarettes.

The fear of withdrawal is at least partly grounded in reality: if you go without nicotine for a couple of hours, you start to feel quite odd. You feel a little light-headed, as though something is expanding inside your brain, and even slightly intoxicated, but not in a good way. These feelings get progressively worse the longer you go on, so it seems logical to assume that they would simply go on getting worse until they become unbearably unpleasant.

In fact that does not happen. Withdrawal reaches a plateau quite quickly and does not get any worse; for four or five days you feel a bit weird and out of sorts, slightly divorced from reality as though experiencing the world through clear plastic. Your sleep patterns go haywire, and all sorts of strange and powerful emotions come to the surface, and generally you feel as if you’ve been experimented on by aliens. But by the morning of the fifth or sixth day, you wake up feeling just fine, and even a little euphoric. Curiously, there is no desire to smoke at all. The world seems fresh and clean, colours brighter, tastes richer, like your first day out of hospital after a long illness.

In the closing scenes of Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer taunts Harrison Ford: “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”

I just got tired of living in fear. I didn’t want some drug controlling my life any more. I am not a smoker. I am a free man!