MY DALLIANCE WITH A TROLLOP
In the spring on 1974, when I was still fourteen years old, our cat discovered my pipes and tobacco where I had hidden them, under a cabinet in the downstairs drawing room. That evening my mother lectured me on the evils of smoking - it took her all of three cigarettes puffed in slow succession to deliver the lecture - and then my father spoke sternly to me. The gist of his discourse was I had to keep my pipes clean (always use pipe-cleaners), and good pipe tobacco needed no additional fragrances; perfumed tobaccos that smelled like a Turkish cathouse were garbage, and should be avoided like a dose of clap.
This is Pshat.
Since then I have not smoked Erinmore Flake.
All pipe smokers of a certain age have experimented with it - it is hard to avoid buying this product at least once, as the friendly and colourful tin with its garish red blazoon on a yellow field beckons one from across a counter, lures one with its cheery appearance, shakes an appealing visual leg at the easily distracted young rake. And like an adventure with a drug-addled whore, one very quickly regrets the decision. From close up, the perfume is strictly drugstore bargain, the make-up thick and smeared, the hotel-room mildewed and depressing.
[All of which is Moshol, please understand.]
For me that 'regret' came one day in March of that year, when I smoked two full bowls of Erinmore Flake one after the other. And threw up violently as a result. I was sick as a dog. Utter misery.
In all fairness I should mention that this may have been caused by not using pipe-cleaners, and inadvertently swallowing some of the gurgle in the shank. This was before my father's words of advice. Pipe-cleaners, in this allegory, are either condoms OR a course of penicillin - either way, this is the Remez.
A few days afterwards I repeated the experience. Two bowls. Followed by nauseated heaving.
I never did finish that tin.
[An infuriating waste of money - did I ever mention that I am a cheap-skate? It's a Dutch characteristic I have never shaken, and have no intention of giving up. Throwing away money on a tin one will not finish is a souring experience.]
Erinmore Flake, with its fruity reek and foul habits, was the veritable tart among the tobaccos, the whore of Babylon, the shameless Catholic Church among the sober Protestants. I loathed it. For years those attractive yellow tins mocked me, from dark corners of tobacconists, or neatly stacked shelves, on two continents. Where-ever I saw an Erinmore tin, it seemed to wink and say "how about it, big boy, I've had my shots".
So, seeing as I have been in an experimenting mood these past few months, and having heard that Erinmore Flake will soon no longer be available on these shores, I naturally bought a tin.
Made in the EU under the authority of Murray Sons & Co LTD, Belfast
[Originally by Murray Sons & Company Limited]
Short slices of Virginia flake, cased with pineapple, and possibly also licorice and prune extract.
It is not nearly as funky as I remember it, because it is no longer the same. Erinmore Flake was one of the trademarks moved by British American Tobacco to Orlik in 2005. It may have been changed somewhat after the transfer, but it is as likely that Murrays toned it down after the eighties. It actually smells fairly pleasant now. If smoked slowly, the pewy stink burns off after the first few puffs, and a pleasant Virginia taste comes through which is rather enjoyable. It burns down cleanly to a fine white ash.
[If NOT smoked ultra-slow, it leaves your mouth feeling like you've got a case of oral clap. Be forewarned.]
WHY YOU SWEET THING, ARE YOU ALL ALONE TONIGHT?
I would not recommend Erinmore Flake, will not publicly admit to liking it, and shall not smoke it at the Occidental for fear of being labeled a disgusting pervert, but it certainly isn't bad. I'm over half-way through the tin, and will definitely finish it. It has all the illicit appeal of a dewy teenager alone in the house and tiddly on her dad's bourbon. Yummy.
Erinmore Flake is slightly reminiscent of Dunhill Light Flake - probably because they have for a long time been produced by the same factory; the tins presently available come from Orlik Tobacco Company ( http://www.orlik.com/sw3035.asp ).
Before Orlik started making the Dunhill Flake, it likewise was manufactured in Belfast - Dunhill have not had an actual plant since 1981, when Rothmans International consolidated production of all their pipe-tobaccos at Murrays.
[It being remembered that Carreras International bought Murrays in 1953, and acquired Dunhill in 1967, then were themselves purchased by Rothmans in 1972. Production of Dunhill pipe-tobacco was moved to Belfast in 1980 and 1981. Rothmans merged with British American Tobacco in 1998, B.A.T. shut down the Belfast location and farmed out manufacture of pipe-tobaccos to Orlik in late 2004. By 2005 Belfast started disappearing from the shelves, to be replaced by Danish product. In February of 2007, B.A.T. sold all brands save Dunhill and one other (something unmentionable) to Orlik. Orlik is now the largest producer of pipe-tobacco in the world.]
I suspect that the recipe in the seventies had an inclusion of air-dried leaf (Burley or Maryland), which allowed it to suck up more of that Hello Kitty teenage hooker aroma. Straight Virginia (flue-cured) just doesn't soak up the cheap cologne very well. The product looks the same, but is a fish of a different kettle.
This, of course, is the Drash of the shiur.
A further indication that this is not the same product as the Erinmore Flake sold in the seventies lies in the complete absence of any involuntarily recalled memories. It does not stimulate flights of remembrance, I do not automatically go back in my mind's nose to the park near the Kleine Ven in Valkenswaard where I upchucked the first time, nor to the bench in the small courtyard along the Eindhovensche Weg where I was sick the second time. I do not feel the warm breeze outside the apartment buildings in the newer neighborhoods, nor see the streetlights through the branches of the trees.
I have to deliberately work at bringing those scenes back to mind, the tobacco does not do it.
This is the Sod.
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