At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


What happens when you put a dozen pipe smokers in one room with several tins of tobacco and a few bottles of port? Is it 'degeneracy'? Profligacy? Riotous stinky dancing? Loud squeals and laughter?
To find out, we did just that. It was the monthly meeting of the Golden Gate Pipe Club, over at our customary location in Marin.

Average age: somewhere between thirty and fifty, although there are a few gentlemen who have already retired.
Average height: somewhere between short and large.
Average facial hair: not so much.


Please consider me the absolute paradigm of Bay Area pipesmoker, in that I am rakish for my years, of average height, and without overly much silver in my head hair or beard. And of a very temperate world-view.
It's a status for which the competition has vanished.

The FORMER absolute paradigm moved to Boston half a year ago to be one with the snow and ice of his native soil. It was a move that saddened all of us at the time, as we could not figure out what possessed him. Boston, for chrissakes! Could just as well be Philly, Atlantic City, or Detroit!
We understand those cities are also back east.
There are snow weasels there.

He writes:

"Record amounts of snow fell in the region with over 6 feet here, treacherous ice and frigid temperatures as low as minus 11F or minus 24C (before windchill factor). Every weekend brought a fresh blizzard and at one stage the snow was falling faster than the ploughs could remove it."


"Crawling about on icy pitched roofs is obviously dangerous and shoveling heavy snow for hours is back-breaking labour. I would have hired a strapping yokel to do it, but they were already well engaged."


"Gaping holes were left on the third floor, now open to the cold, the snow and the rain."

There was more, mostly dealing with carpentry, pervasive wood rot, giant seagulls, abandoned shopping carts, and big heaps of white crap that fell from the sky. Perhaps the most salient data he shared was an angry squawk, as follows:

"Real men do not gad about naked whilst smoking Clan and admiring themselves in the mirror. Real men shovel snow several feet deep. Real men hack away at ice dams and icicles bigger than they are. Real mean carry several cords of firewood in howling blizzards and subzero temperatures. Real men do not live in whingeing, self-absorbed, double soy milk latte sipping, tofu braising, earth mother channeling San Francisco."

Obviously the primitive life-style is starting to get to him.

He also sent several photos of himself posing in the great outdoors outside his kitchen door wearing what I take to be a patent leather body suit.

No nude gadding at all, the poor man.
Alack. Alas.

Obviously I sympathize. And hasten to inform him that our weather in California is also beastly. There was fog the other day!
And sometimes I roll down my shirtsleeves!
It isn't all prancing around my apartment en déshabillé with a pipe in my mouth. And it has been AGES since I enjoyed a nice bowl full of Turkish bathhouse soap!
The tofu is good, provided it has a pork and garlic sauce. And as only the Trieste knows how to do a latte, I must make do with copious draughts of tea. Besides, I am often nowhere near an esspresso machine.

The Acacia trees bloomed recently; imagine the pollen!

We at the Golden Gate Pipe Club send him our commiseration. And wonder when he will visit us again. Like the prophet Eliyahu, we'll keep a seat ready for him, as well as a glass of wine. Port too.
Might even have some Clan tobacco.
Or even a tin of Ennerdale Flake.
Which is like St. Bruno, I hear.
Very much his style.


We oohed and aahed over several beautiful Ser Jacopo pipes presented for viewing by Marble Arch, imbibed the bottles of port lickety-split, drank some wine, consumed diverse bits of thin-sliced fatty pork compound and cheesy substances, and had tea.

Well, I had tea. I should've had much more.

Dunhill's London Mixture, Luxury Bullseye Flake, Samuel Gawith's Bothy Flake (made for the Kearvaig Pipe Club), Grant's Royal Reserve, James Fox's Bankers Mixture, Greg Pease's Sextant, Orlik (smoked by all shrewd judges), and a peculiarity I blended a while back which I recently decided to smoke again.

The Bothy Flake is an extraordinary and addictive product, being dark leathery strips very reminiscent of Balkan Flakes which are no longer available. The Bankers Mixture is a medium Latakia compound, altogether exceptionally nice. Sextant is wondrously rich and hard to describe. Orlik is enjoyable, very tobacco-y, and old-fashioned.
My peculiarity is two Virginias plus a bit of Perique.
The Perique settles down after a while.
Depth, with delicacy.

None of us were nude.

Completely absent, in addition to the former paradigm, were the dignified collector of Rainier Barbi pipes, and the smoker of Arcadia, as well as a few others. Along with tittering Japanese darlings, smart-aleck Cantonese ladies, the Taiwanese woman pipe-smoker, that cute little woman I occasionally see on the bus curled up with her headphones, and any and all shop-a-holic Filippinas.
Only the latter lack was unlamented.

[There actually IS a Taiwanese female pipe-smoker. A very nice young lady, mid to late twenties, I should guess. But I suspect she's a little hesitant about puffing in public.
Or returning home smelling like a college professors' convention.]

We were sober and restrained.

Real, and manly.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



  • At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The snow and ice are finally beginning to melt away and I feel as if I am slowly awaking from a dreadful nightmare.

    The roof has been repaired, the wind has abated and the sun is shining.

    Mr Hyde is morphing back into Dr Jekyll.

    Tonight I shall sup on a hot chicken curry in a cardamom coconut sauce. Followed by a bowl of Mr Pease's Six Pence.

    No more raw frozen meat for dinner.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older