We meet Kevin, who was one of the first to benefit from the treatments provided by the Smokers Cough Perfection Spa.
Kevin, ‘Since the smoking ban came in, there is a distinct pecking order outside the pub based on how impressive your cough is. I’ve got the serious cowboy face right when I suck on my ciggy, and have the footie chit chat and two anecdotes that involve cars, tasty birds and a bloke off the TV.
But then all eyes were on me when I did the cough, it was terrible. I had a barking kind of cough, almost like a Terrier. Everyone was clearly disappointed and gave me the silent treatment, never again did they offer to light me or ask me to light them. I felt so left out, an outcast. The whole experience nearly put me off smoking. Luckily I found the Smokers Cough Perfection Spa just in time.
Smokers cough guru and director of the Smokers Cough Perfection Spa – Sebastian Lauren who incidentally is smoking two cigarettes at once as I interview him, gushes in a delightful raspy voice, ‘When you enter here you are nothing, just like a piece of shit. But we build you up in a step by step dual track programme that focusses on mental and physical empowerment so that you will leave with a confident, bombastic, cavernous, resonant, bass rattling-tastic, flem-gurgling gargantitude of a cough. It will send you straight to the top of the hierarchy of cool and acceptance outside any pub, an eagle soaring high above inferior coughs. Not only outside the pub but also you will immediately attract widespread attention on the bus, train, or at a salad bar with your magnifique gurgly wrenching’.
We next meet Kevin in a small booth outside a pub crammed with smokers, everyone is cracking jokes but Kevin stands pensively in the corner. It is clear he still lives with the trauma from the past. Then a large red faced man beside Kevin starts to cough, first a raspy staccato of a cough that is built up skilfully to reach deeper and deeper until it seems to shake the entire lungs in a horrible rumbling death rattle. It is magnificent. Kevin seems to shrink further into the corner, but he is the last one to cough in the group and the others have noticed.
All eyes are on Kevin, he feels like he is in a gun fight in a Spaghetti Western. Can he hold his nerve? He knows there is no way out of it. He can’t walk away again. If he does there will be no way back. He has to cough. He nervously convulses and produces a high pitched Terrier bark. The other smokers look on in disdain, the red face man smiles wryly. Then they all turn away from him.
Sweat runs down Kevin’s forehead, his eyes look to the ground. He appears to be a broken man. Then from somewhere he finds inner strength to have another go. A growl rumbles deep from within, others ignore it, but then as the rumble is increased Kevin dramatically chokes, gasping for breath, as if he is suffocating. It cannot be ignored, everyone is completely fixated. It is a masterstroke. With attention captured, the gurgling retches build to a crescendo, a mouth open wide convulsion that catches a considerable ball of phlegm in the throat.
Kevin confidently spits it to the ground with a splat. The other smokers wince a little, then turn towards Kevin again. One fellow smoker pats Kevin on the back and asks him if he has any more jokes to share. Kevin smiles and starts telling an inappropriate joke about the Queen Mother, Elton John and a bottle of coke that has everyone in rasping stitches. Another successful job done for the Smokers’ Cough Perfection Spa.