THE MEERSCHAUM PIPE
The issue is the carving. Meershaum is easily turned into a prop for tasteless oafs. And given the nature of most decorative attempts, meerschaum must be considered the Michelob or Coors of pipe-material.
Except when it isn't.
I got rid of my last meerschaum in the early eighties. It just wasn't me, and I preferred the taste of briar pipes in any case. Or alternatively a corncob for Burley mixtures. And the attempt to colour one's meerschaum till at last a deep golden variegated honey hue had been achieved seemed far too neurotic. Such an obsessive pursuit appalled me.
I now own a meerschaum again.
And I also like how it colours.
It smokes pretty good too.
CRAP FLOATING ON THE WAVES
Meerschaum is so named because it was apocryphally seen drifting on the face of the ocean, like sea foam. A stone substance, but so light-weight and porous that it doesn't sink in water. To be precise, it is a hydrous mineral silicate of magnesium, mined in Turkey and a few other places. And it is an excellent pipe material because of the properties just mentioned.
In the past many famous pipe-carvers were located in Vienna, Prague, Pest, and elsewhere in the former Austro-Hungarian world. A generation ago the Turks banned the export of meerschaum in un-finished state, and despite having absolutely no artistic sense whatsoever tried to make the manufacture of meerschaum pipes a Turkish monopoly.
By-and-large, the results were pretty god-awful.
For nearly four decades hideous heads, and women with bulbous breasts flooded the market, along with biologically impossible dogs, horses, and insane-looking birds of prey.
Nobody with taste and common sense dared smoke the darn things.
But pimps, sub-literates, and politicians avidly bought them.
And showed them off, with aromatic tobaccos.
Feh, gadzooks, and gottenyu.
The meerschaum I acquired has a simple and elegant design. No carving whatsoever, just uniformity, symmetry, and a polished surface. The shape might be described as halfway between a tulip or trumpeta and a Dublin, with a half-bend to the shank and stem.
A discrete pipe, and very lady-like, but with sufficient capacity to please.
I dasn't take it out of the house because of its fragility and poofiness, but I've happily puffed it of a morning as a pre-lunch indulgence.
Professional Mixture, and Accountant's Mixture.
Both by Rattray's of Perth.
Yeah, it's effete, for a man. But I think I'll keep it.
It rather suits me, and matches some tobaccos.
Strong hot tea is a splendid accompaniment.
A woman-person would be far nicer.
I'm somewhat perverse.
Also strong, or hot.
Either, or both.
I now have disgusting smoke-filled fantasies. Not at all sure how that happened. It's a fairly recent development. Very strange.
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