Another reason death is on my mind these days is, I think, because Stephanie, my sister, died on January 9th this year and there is not a day goes by that she doesn’t slide into my head for a minute or two; incidents when we were kids, the time we shared a flat in Crumpsall, Manchester for a few months, various love-affairs she had, most of them unhappy until she met David, whom she married, had a son, Jason, divorced David after 25 years although still in love with him, I am sure. This daily reminder of her is a form of mourning, I guess. We got along quite well, she could be good fun, she could be bloody annoying. But she’s not here now, and I don’t like it. I miss her. It was lung cancer that got her, she was 78, had smoked since she was 16. Wouldn’t – no – couldn’t - give it up, and although she said three years ago she had we suspected she was still having a sly drag before the bloody things finally got her.
For any of you smokers reading these words, let me add this, in the hope it will make you consider things next time you light up: - I gave those damned things up when I was 40. Yet last June, 42 years later, after a biopsy, I was told, “Sorry, Mr Thornhill, you have lung cancer.”
“But I gave cigarettes up over forty years ago,” I said.
He shrugged, “Most of the people I see are ex-smokers,” was his reply. So, as they say in the north: Think on.