Category Archives: How to

Quitting the Evil Weed

Apart from the fact that my first smoking experience happened around about the time of my first paid commission, this has nothing to do with calligraphy but some thoughts on part of my life that was once a way of life.

A friend is, at last, ready to stop smoking. He has tried, but never really followed through and was very soon puffing away just as much as before. This time though it seems his mind is made up. He has set himself a target date, Sunday 11th October, and is determined that he will, by then, be calling himself a non smoker.

He has been offered advice and a great deal of encouragement, mine included. This encouragement and advice is all very well but first he must be sure in his own mind why this time he will succeed and why, this time, after the last draw on that last dog-end, he can stub it out in the firm belief that his preferred method of withdrawal is going to be his only contact with the nicotine for which, he thinks, his body craves.

My parents both were smokers but my smoking history began at the age of ten, perhaps eleven, during the school summer holidays, halfway up a tree, which was soon to be bulldozed in the cause of high speed travel. (M1 Motorway). My friend produced from his pocket a packet of Players Navy Cut cigarettes, (I since found out that this brand was the strongest available at that time), gave me one, lit his own then mine. Cough, cough, cough, I was hooked. I spent the rest of my life looking, but never found again, the high I experienced with that first fag. Ahem! Not with tobacco anyway. For twenty years or so I boxed but knew I could never attain my full potential. I had the skill, the strength and the speed but not the stamina of a true champion. Still I smoked.

To cut a very long story short, I smoked my way through the equivalent of 18250 half ounce packs of Old Holborn, some of which were decidedly dodgy, (Cheap baccy, DONT DO IT, you don’t know what you are breathing into your lungs), I smoked them all the same, must get my fix, no matter what! Until…..Wham! Consultant at L&D Hospital, “Well, it is like this, Mr Grant. If you continue to smoke, it will not be long before I am obliged to cut off one, if not both, of your legs”.

My strategy? Finish off the 1 oz pack I was smoking at the time, arrange with my doctor, a course of Nicorette inhalators, bite the bullet and use the lifeline I had been given. At first I found the mouthpiece of the inhalator was more pipe like than cigarette so I tried tried various holders for the cartridges and eventually found that the cartridge itself could be held between the lips. This way, I found very soon, that I would be sucking on the same cartridge for so long that the nicotine was long gone and I had not realised that for an hour or so, all I had been taking in was pure clean air.

That was eight years ago. I am no longer a slave to tobacco, the circulation has returned to my legs. My lungs, having taken a battering of 50 odd years of smoke will never be as good as they should be and have to be cosseted through each winter but will not worsen due to the habit of a lifetime. That is what smoking is as far as I’m concerned, a habit. A habit I have, with much help and support, kicked into touch.

So, if you are trying to break the habit, go for it. As the old cliche goes,

Cheers! Good health.

Precision, Perfection, Practice

I don’t ask for this degree of precision from my students but strangely, it is what many of them strive for. My thoughts on this matter : Aim for perfection in everything you do but do not be obsessed. Perfection comes with practice, (PPP), in all aspects of calligraphy, from first mastering a script, to building a page, from the initial planning, right through to putting on that final decoration. Most will never achieve it.  After all my years as a lettering geek I still aim for that perfection, I know I shall never attain it but I sure have enjoyed the journey so far.

By the way, when you do achieve that perfect piece of work, don’t be afraid to ask for top dollar. This watch has a price tag of 2.6 million of them.

Cheers. Keep watching this space.


Je suis Charlie



Luton Irish Forum Calligraphy Group.

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