Thank you for smoking
NICK DASHFIELD breaks through the mystique of the Durham smoking area
This article will seek to consider a phenomenon stranger and more unexplainable than Tim Westwood being permitted to survive beyond infancy; the smoking area. In most parts of our great nation the smoking area is the home of the middle aged hen party; think lamb dressed as mutton, copious thighs and outrageously tight, short pink novelty dresses- like a raw sausage wrapped in wire. However as soon as one crosses the boundaries of the Durham metropolitan area it becomes apparent that a strange mutation has occurred. The raucous squeals and husky curses of the soused third marriage crowd have been replaced by the low, calm hum of a different breed- the Lloyds chieftain. Gone are terms of address such as ‘love’ and ‘dozy cow’ to be replaced by ‘mate’, ‘fella’ and of course the evergreen ‘buddy’.
The smoking area has become a jungle that would turn Ray Mears into a canapé for a jaguar and make Bear Grylls weep like a one legged man playing ice hockey. However this harsh world seems to have rules which must be followed to avoid looking more out of place than a pork chop in Pakistan:
1) In the words of that lyrical messiah, Limp Bizkit-Rolling, rolling, rolling. It may seem obvious but the first requirement of being a smoking area veteran is surely that you are a smoker? WRONG! A new breed has emerged in recent years- the ‘phantom puffer’. These crafty individuals light their cigarette and every 1-2 minutes lightly kiss the butt, taking just enough smoke into their mouths to give the appearance of a drag before exhaling- continuing this way until the cigarette gives up all hope and burns out. Thus it has been established that the cigarette is not actually primarily for smoking in the Durham smoking area; it is a tool for displaying ‘rolling tekkers’. Any aspiring BNOC knows that to smoke straights is an unforgivable act which may result in the offender being cast out and never spoken of again. The only way to earn the respect and calm nod of approval from the smoking area regulars is to display poise, precision and natural ability when rolling, whilst still maintaining a relaxed and nonchalant demeanour. Asking in a loud, firm voice ‘got a rizla mate’ before starting should draw suitable amounts of attention to your efforts, as will finishing by holding the finished product up to the light like a corner shop owner inspecting a dodgy tenner.
2) For the females of the student body it must be remembered that the Lloyds smoking area is shark infested water. It is where the ground work is laid before intoxicated prey is grappled and dragged down to the murky deep on the dance floor. Therefore sharks will congregate outside, waiting for a shoal of tuna (preferably a netball social fresh from a bar crawl) to burst into the open. In the smoking area jungle therefore a request for some piece of smoking apparatus or a lighter is probably not an innocent attempt to enjoy a quiet smoke, but rather an opportunity to weigh up the size and strength of a potential target.
3) Time allocation is everything. An 80-20 per cent split should be aimed for between the smoking area and the dance floor. The dance floor should not be seen as somewhere to actually dance but rather to warm up before another shift outside. It is also a good opportunity to spot a potential ‘love interest’ and to snare them by deploying 30-40 seconds of actual dancing before making some sort of smoking related gesture and then pointing to the door. A wink may also be used to emphasise the point.
With all this in mind I suspect that there may be a business opportunity for some bold young entrepreneur. If the Durham City Council could be persuaded to rent out a stretch of the cobbles, maybe between Greggs and Peters Bakery next to the Market Square, the world’s very first smoking area night spot could be opened. All that would be needed would be some low frequency muffled beats, bright lights and metal railings and a few crates of carling and one of Durham’s hottest night spots would be ready to rumble.
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