Smoking Memories – Coughing Better

Coughing better he’d say jovially having cleared his bronchioles once again. (Coughing was both necessary and also had become part of who we knew and loved). Then, spitting in the rose bed, he’d light up again. Sometimes, to be playful, he’d waft Balkan Sobranie in my direction. Ah! Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, or in his case pipe. Ah! How the tide has turned now.

This was my boss from aged seventeen through to late twenties. On and off. A man, and his family, I owe a great deal to. A love for photograph for one. He had however a healthy disregard for health matters in general, as so many did of his generation. In particular a disregard for noxious fumes. My daily lung diet was, for years, a tobacco and chemical fume fug. All much intensified by being within an unventilated darkroom.

Last time I saw my old boss alive I was already a monk and he was severely disabled with Parkinson’s Disease. Would he recognize me? Know who I was? It was so sad. Then, suddenly he pointed at me all bright eyed and laughed and laughed. My bald head perhaps? I don’t know. I went over to him and held his hand, patting it and silently reciting the three Homages of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in blessing. It was all I could think to do. It was the last time I saw him.

Now I’m wondering if his dear wife is still alive…

We watched a film called Thank You for Smoking a satire on the tobacco industry. It’s well worth watching. Funny too.

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4 thoughts on “Smoking Memories – Coughing Better”

  1. … he’d light up again.

    Just read that and straight away that thought went through my mind “Twenty four years, seven months and um ….”

    If you were ever looking for an example in your life of the subtlety and persistence of craving deep down below the surface of conscious thought then attachment to tobacco has to be one of the biggest of ‘biggies’.

  2. Having had the joy of quitting alcohol, various drugs and nicotine. I was reminded that nicotine is the only drug that is unclassifiable, in that it works “with you”. If you want to relax it helps there, if you want to be more alert it works there. No wonder it is so hard to let go of. Body and mind traipsing off together.

  3. Dear Rev Mugo,

    Hope you are well and are having a good winter retreat.
    I stumbled upon these films whilst browsing the net – a short but rather beautifully filmed 3 part documentary on Sojiji in 1959, just a few years before Rev. Master Jiyu arrived there.

    There’s an unusual and probably very much of-its-day shot of all the novice monks sitting around smoking together – and some very impressive ceremonial.

    Great stuff!

    In Gassho,


  4. From the Moderator AKA Mugo. Could you please get in touch via the Contact tab, top right of the screen.

    I hope these postings are moderated and I don’t end up posting an off-topic response — my apologies if they’re not. It’s just that this posting was made by a dear old friend of mine I have lost touch with and I’d really, really like to hear from him. If it goes to a moderator, could you pass it on?

    The miracle of the Internet…

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