Progress has been made, developments have taken place, things have become different.
I'll probably always associate Greg Pease's most recent product with smiling women, being whacked to the gills, and marked improvements in the weather.
As well as a sudden surge-remembrance of old friends long out of touch, whom I last saw in a small town in the Netherlands.
But perhaps mostly with Chinatown.
Not, however, with rum.
Old London Series
Tin blurb: For centuries, men of the sea have known the pleasures of fine Virginia tobaccos, pressed and aged with a drop of rum. The addition of rich dark-fired Kentucky leaf brings a new dimension to the flavour and aroma of this timeless combination. Chart your course for a new world of enjoyment, light a bowl, and set sail with Navigator.
-----G. L. Pease.
It's an easy smoke. Perhaps a bit generous on the nicotine, which may leave one lightheaded, but soft and smooth on the palate. It consists mainly of a gentle Red Virginia, with a touch of bright and other flue-cured leaves, given an intriguing nose with a light touch of fire-cured Kentucky. The rum facilitates the melding of the leaves, but it is barely noticeable in the tin, even less so after rubbing out, and almost entirely absent in the smoke.
Especially once you're near the end of the tin.
This tobacco is not strictly a powerhouse, but too much might leave you somewhat nicotine crazed. After one bowl, you will not want to wait to light up again.
Slightly sweet, and soothing in a not-quite-red-flake kind of way.
It works best in a generous size.
The hint of Kentucky, combined with the red Virginia fragrances, reminded me of Herman Ritter, Peer van de Palen, and Tom Bouten, who lived together in a cottage on the Kromstraat in Valkenswaard. Three bachelor music-afficionadoes who made and repaired instruments. Watching Herman Ritter gently heating up rabbit's hide glue and steaming a sheet of wood, then carefully applying an even ribbon of paste ere pressing the wood in place, was always fascinating. Effortlessly, as if it were part of the process, he would tamp down the tobacco in his pipe in between his several other hand movements.
The red Virginia reminds me particularly of him. That hint of Kentucky calls Tom Bouten and Peer van de Palen to mind; smokers of dark Dutch shag, the spicy reek of which permeated the house as much as Herman's paler pipe tobacco.
Though not at the same times.
TONG YAN FAU
I've smoked this every day since I got it, often while strolling around Chinatown. The weather is nicer than it was at the beginning of the month, and while the aroma truly benefits from a crisp chill, the smoker himself is happier this way.
More folks are about. Perfect people watching conditions.
Two pipe-fulls on Jackson near Powell, during mid-afternoon. An elderly gentleman pushing his wife up the hill, slowly and painfully. Once past the entrance to Adele Court, she got up and together they inched further afoot. It was obvious that she did not want to be such a frightful burden, equally obvious that he did not mind at all. He was mighty pleased to be with her.
There was a gentleness to their faces.
Especially the eyes.
Teenagers leaving the bubble-tea place on the corner scattered down the block, twittering like birds. One said "oh, pipe" when he saw me.
A little tyke going food-shopping with her mom stared in goggle-eyed fascination, swivelling her head almost like Linda Blair in the Exorcist in her attempt to keep the apparition (me) in view from the top of the block to past M. P. Seafood Market (銘發海鮮 Min Fat Hoi-Sin) at the corner of Trenton Street.
The day was more golden because of the tobacco. Possibly the spiced fragrance worked upon the subconscious, likely the various stimuli sparked the mind.
Do I remember the waitress with the warm smile?
Of course I do. Her charm was more noticeable with a jolt of nicotine, the flavour of the tobacco made more sweet because of the memory.
No, still not going to pursue that woman. She is far too young, and I'm smoking a tobacco that suits a mature man. But inextricably her complexion and this fine leaf intertwine in my mind's eye.
Definitely a maiden for Virginias.
Hardly any coffee this week. Instead I've been swilling extra-strong Oolong as if there's no tomorrow. I'm more attuned to certain smells after a few bowls of this tobacco. It's a strange interplay I cannot explain.
I'm whacked, but not tweaky.
Down to only four tins.
Need to order more.
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