It's now almost exactly two years since I quit smoking (actually, I prefer the 'stopped' version of this: 'quit' makes it seem like I've done something heroic).
I know all too well that smoking's not big or clever (what part of "Smoking Kills" didn't I get?); I know how tricky it is to stop because I used to be really good at it and I did commit a lot of my life to it (as most photographic records of my adult life suggest).
If you're going cold-turkey yourself as you read this, then my thoughts are with you…just remember to steer clear of friends and situations you've learned to associate with the weed – while the physical cravings become shorter and shorter and less and less frequent, the other prompts are much harder to avoid. And the madness doesn't last that long…
Prompted by this I thought it might be a good time to try to give up something else: the BRAND word. To do without it for as long as you can.
Of course, "brand" is nice, it's floppy and flexible, it makes you seem professional, it's popular – it's widely recognised in all kinds of circles – but is it really that useful?
Does it help as much as it seems to? Isn't its 'fatness' – the many different things folk mean by 'brand' – actually a weakness? Is it perhaps more "phat" than just 'fat' – more about our relationship with our conversation partners than about the thing itself?
So here's a thought: why don't we just try to make January Brand-free ?
We could just try to be clear what we mean by the shorthand…