Dudelet and I are walking to the Underground on the way to pick up supplies from the Japan Centre.
“Look, those girls are smoking!” he says, clearly disapproving but also fishing for my reaction.
“Not good for them, is it?” I offer feebly.
“How did they get the cigarettes? I thought shops weren’t allowed to sell them to children?”
“Well, maybe they got an older kid to buy them. Some shopkeepers don’t pay as much attention as they should/“
“Did you ever smoke?”
Oh dear. Here it comes.
“Yes,” I say, wondering if I should lie.
“When did you stop?”
“January 1st, 1998. Wish I’d done it sooner. Hope it wasn’t too late.”
“When did you start?”
“When I was thirteen or fourteen.”
Why indeed? I’m stuck with being honest now so I plough on.
“I suppose I was trying to impress other, slightly older or cooler boys – at least I thought they were cooler at the time.” I decide to leave out the fact that I actually started smoking in Scouts.
“Oh. Were they a bit thuggish, then?”
“Mummy says she never started because she tried one cigarette and it was so disgusting, she never went near them again.”
“She was very sensible, then,” I say, half-wishing I’d given the same answer.
“Yes. Did I tell you I’ve started writing a script?”