Art Studio and Life #53

Hello lovely family and friends

I have come across a new piece of Kiwi slang – smoko. Smoko apparently means morning or afternoon tea break. (Not that any tea is involved either.) Smoko now involves coffee and something to eat, perhaps while you do the crossword or Word Search (which is also a Kiwi thing.)

I guess it originates from the time when most people popped out for a quick morning or afternoon cigarette.

Our BnB is a smoke free zone, and we had some smoking guests who kindly refrained from smoking inside, but stood on the driveway for an evening smoke. As I collected the cigarette butts from the drive the following day, it reminded me of the smell of stale ashtrays in my childhood lounge in the morning. Nothing like smelling old ash trays of a morning to put you off smoking for life.

Both my parents smoked for many years, and I was of the generation whose junior school teachers kindly helped us to make embroidered mats for our mothers and ash trays for our fathers for Christmas. No one knew secondary smoke was a thing, and my parents happily smoked in the car while we three children rolled about on the back seat, because there we no seatbelts either.

Views on smoking have definitely changed over the years. In Silas Marner by George Eliot (published in 1861), Silas is an elderly asthmatic (probably about 35 years old) whose doctor has prescribed smoking a pipe to help with his asthma. When he has reluctantly lit it and keeps holding it rather than smoking it (because he actually doesn’t like smoking) his loving daughter encourages him to keep sucking on his pipe. Mind you, back in the day, medics also freely prescribed opium and morphine, so if they just wanted you to smoke a pipe, you were getting off lightly.

I’m not surprised that the average life expectancy in the 19th Century was about 30. Having said that, my grandmother started smoking at about age 14 and carried on until she suddenly died at age 88. Those docs could have pointed to her and said “See! We told you smoking was good for you.”

Any modern-day tobacco smoker has to have nerves of steel – have you seen what’s on those cigarette boxes? It’s not the Marlborough Man and his Horse, it’s gruesome pictures of someone’s foot falling off. Perhaps the smokers don’t even notice in their hurry to rip open the box? Or if they do, that age old form of higher reasoning kicks in – ‘Yes, But it Won’t Happen To Me.’

Of course, if the cig boxes put you off, you can always vape. No gory pictures there.


I’m sure that one of these days those vape sticks (can tell I’m clueless) won’t be blue or pink, they’ll have pictures of someone’s exploded lung or some such. While I wish it had never been invented, I’m grateful that vaping doesn’t leave cigarette butts everywhere, and that the smokers smell better. I do still find it surprising when some scary gang type person walks past me smelling of strawberries though.

I’m wondering how on earth I got to be writing about smoking? Oh yes, collecting butts from the driveway from BnB patrons… For those who are interested, the BnB is flourishing, with only a couple of empty nights in the couple of weeks since we started. In fact, I need to block the odd night to have a break from the cleaning and laundry, but, thankfully, most people leave it fairly clean so I actually managed to do some painting yesterday!

So this week, may you not have to collect cigarette butts! May your feet remain firmly attached! And may you share smoko with a cat!

XX Barbie


  1. Karen Ivins

    Very entertaining Barbie, i just met up with Barbara Jones this weekend and she shared your blog with me, hope you don’t mind.
    Hope you and Bruce and the boys are well 😀

    • Barbara Podmore

      Hi Karen! lovely to hear from you! I definitley don’t mind, the more, the merrier!

  2. Tim

    Hilarious (and perceptive) as ever!
    We have smoko in Australia, too – well, not me personally – but it’s a great word.
    Hope Hobbes enjoyed his.

    • Barbara Podmore

      Hobbes always enjoys any smoko, in fact, his life is just one long smoko!

  3. Jennifer Penno

    thanks Barbie!! I remember making ashtrays too!! Must have been in the ‘ come what may’ 70’s.

    • Barbara Podmore

      So it happened here too! Did your parents even smoke?

  4. Bruce

    I am glad that I haven’t yet seen you treat Hobbes or Davey like the picture above!