Sunday 11 December 2016

Instinct to self-destruct is alive and well

It doesn't pay to be so self-righteous and smugly dismissive of our former selves

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan

I RECENTLY saw a picture of Jack Charlton during his days as a player with Leeds United. He was at the club's training ground, wearing his full kit, the epitome of the professional sportsman at work, except for one thing. He was clearly, even ostentatiously, smoking a cigarette.

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Ten years after Ireland introduced the "smoking ban", such images seem so strange they are like the ancient etchings of some long-vanished civilisation – what manner of men were these?

Then I remembered that I used to think nothing of playing five-a-side football and then relaxing afterwards with a few pints of beer and as many cigarettes as I could smoke. Which at one point was about 40 a day.

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