A few years ago I was having a small issue. I'd been dumped by the last guy I actually properly went out with. He'd gone from driving by my house just to snog me and buying me gifts all over the shop to 'I want a break'. During which, naturally, he boinked someone else.
I dealt with this in the best way I knew how back then. I stopped eating, started tripling my red wine intake and lived on booze and fags for six weeks. I took those six weeks off work because I genuinely felt I couldn't cope.
Looking back I can't quite believe how badly I took it. I mean, he was nothing special to look at and had a particularly nasty coke problem that was all a bit tedious. But I did love him and I was shocked and traumatised by his sudden shift in behaviour.
My rather awesome friend spent many hours with me while I analysed his behaviour into the dust and drank lots and lots of booze. She also drank lots and lots of booze so hopefully it wasn't too awful for her, but it was definitely what made me realise she's an ace friend.
I quickly lost track of any routine I had and was all a bit of a fluster. Naturally, most people were telling me to get my shit together and go back to work. Which is fair enough really. But this friend said: "Have you seen About a Boy?"
She suggested breaking my day down into manageable chunks. Something like: 9am. Get up. 9.30am. Shower. 10am. Weep. 11am. Smoke.
The idea is, of course, to timetable the hours and simply force yourself through each one so at least you do what you have to do even though your world may have imploded. Or if you're just an indolent rich git like Hugh Grant in that film and need to enforce some kind of structure to your life.
After a while I got a different job and met a different twat and got on with it all in my usual haphazard, poor decision making way.
And then during my last shrink appointment a couple of weeks ago, the dude said: "Have you seen About a Boy?"
And this time I sat down and I made a timetable. I split up every day from morning till night and I have, more or less, been sticking to it. Just doing it. Swimming, walking, meditating, walking, swimming, writing, meditating, working, sleeping. Over and over. I have a routine. I get up at shit o clock and walk the dog. And at shit o clock at night I walk the dog.
I haven't had a routine for a long time.
Part way through my usual daily existential crisis I thought: "What have I actually achieved this month?"
And then I thought again.
And I realised that, because of About a Boy (kinda) I now meditate for around an hour every day. I walk miles every week. I swim about four times a week. I've given up smoking.
I almost feel like a fraud for writing that as it has always been something that I never, ever thought I could do. I've smoked for 23 years. It has been my burny friend and my comfort through numerous tragedies and it has been the companion to many glasses of wine, bottles of cider and glasses of gin. The truth is, I like it. I like smoking. I do not like not smoking. But it suddenly seemed the time to face up to it and just. Stop.
I have now been a non smoker for 21 days 23 hours and 10 minutes. I have not smoked 109.83 cigarettes. This, based on the generally accepted notion that a fag knocks five minutes off your life, has bought me an extra 9.15 hours to live.
I wonder what I'll do with it.