Tuesday, February 11, 2020


One of the denizens of the internet mentions spending the evening with 古越龍山紹興酒 and Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake in his meerschaum pipe, five hundred miles north of Wuhan. To throw that into perspective, that's as far as the benighted pit of Los Angeles is from San Francisco, or like the distance between Australia and Timbuktu (Tombouctou). He would be outside, except that where he is he would have to wear a facemask, because of the medical situation in his metropolis of residence.

My first thought was to cut holes in the facemask.
Which is contraindicated, and unwise.

Apparently he lives by himself, though, so there are no family members to chase him out to the compost heap to freeze his testes off with his pipe, unlike San Francisco or Marin County, where middle-aged gentlemen are shivering in the cold and regretting that other people exist.
It's a significant problem here.


This isn't a criticism of my apartment mate -- of whom I am quite fond, as well as of the turkey vulture which lives in her room, who complains that he hasn't eaten anything in days (he devoured over half of a cake recently, nota bene) -- nor of any of my relatives, who are mostly non-smoking Canadian health freaks, but rather an angry squawk at the type of disapproval that the world has adopted to rather unobjectionable downright civilized habits. And let's leave it at that; you lot ain't gonna change, are you?

[It was a 咖啡味瑞士卷蛋糕 from that place on Broadway. Swiss Roll Cake, coffee flavour. Delicious! Greedy bird!]

My habit on days off is to head over to Chinatown, have lunch and milk-tea, and wander about smoking a pipe. In the evening, as the cold winds pick up, that becomes a bit problematic -- you may eventually read in your newspaper about a thin dude frozen to death grasping a nice pipe who died of perfectly normal pneumonia, not the Wuhan corona virus, found dead in an alleyway, and you'll probably think "damned fool deserved it, tobacco kills children and dolphins" (and puppies!), but altogether it will have no impact on your pure vegan lifestyle, and in any case the pernicious memory effects of marijuana (now socially approved) will drive it from your mind.
A mere blip, of no consequence.

I like Chinatown. Almost no sneering white people. Who when they are there take ten minutes to decide not to purchase that pastry or rolled rice noodle (腸粉), great with hot sauce or a little soy, but instead occupy space in front of the counter wondering what those things are, then surreptitiously taking photos on their cells for the folks back home in Modesto, and asking stupid questions like "is there gluten in that" or "do you have bats?"

[Surreptitious = Stiekem, gluiperig.]

Fewer people on skateboards too. The pavement is that bad.

Spending the evening with with a pipe filled with Full Virginia Flake and a bottle of Shao Hsing rice wine sounds absolutely splendid. Unfortunately, due to the possible deletorious interactions with some of my medications, that is out of the question. And I would prefer human company and a hot cup of milk-tea in any case.


Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake (FVF) is a delightful hot-pressed straight Virginia. Subtle, no added flavours, slightly dark in appearance though light and summery in taste. Malty, figgy, creamy. What a tobacco should be. The room note is old-fashioned, and calls up armchairs, sofas, tea trays, bookshelves, late summer evenings, and comfy throwrugs.
It is precisely what a happy home should smell like.
Clean and pure enough for children.

Like all Sam Gawith tobaccos, it needs a bit of drying before packing it into your pipe. When aged, it displays sugar crystals on the sliced surfaces.

You really need some tea and a spot of sherry. Good quality Shao Hsing rice wine tastes remarkably like sherry, and drunk in moderation will not render you comatose.

These are recommendations.


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