This weekend I was lucky enough to spend a fun enjoyable evening with 3 of my sisters. There are 6 girls in our family altogether and 4 of us have 13 children between us. Yes, we are the typical large Irish family, a bit mad and very busy.
Anyway, in the last 10 years or so, us girls have never had an evening to ourselves without somebody’s kids or partners being around. What a joy it was to sit on Saturday night and have a chat without someone being hungry, tired, crying or needing a wee. And I’m just talking about us adults there! So for once we had time to reminisce uninterrupted about some of the things we got up to as children. One of the best laughs of the night was about how our granny let us smoke cigarettes.
I was 10 years old, my sisters were 8 and 7. Our cousin, a worldly wise 11 year old, spent a lot of time with us that summer, educating us in the ways of the world.
One day, between the 4 of us, we bought a packet of 20 cigarettes, borrowed a box of matches from the kitchen and made our way to the garden shed. There we lit a cigarette each - no passing just one around – and we started “smoking”. A few minutes later we saw our Granny approaching so we quickly extinguished the cigarettes and pretended to be doing nothing. (Isn’t that a typical kids response, “what are you doing there?” “Nothing!”)
After Granny left we “smoked” the rest of the cigarettes. Well, there was no point in leaving evidence around, was there?
I don’t remember, but we must have been blue from lack of oxygen by the time we finished, not to mention just reeking of the smell of cigarette smoke. We thought we were so cool and that we had got away with our little smoking experiment.
It was only years later that my mother told me that she had sent Granny to the shed that day because they saw smoke and thought the shed was on fire!! Granny reported back that there was no fire but found it very funny that we were all obviously smoking. My mother was about to rush out and stop us when Granny said “Leave them. They’ll have their fill of it and won’t do it again”. So they sat and waited to see our sick grey faces emerge from the shed later in the day. I do remember feeling very ill that day.
How right Granny was. We never tried smoking again.
Granny was a wise woman. Even if she did leave us in a timber shed with a box of matches!!