Tuesday, July 07, 2020


The early part of the day is best, before the winds come. The sunlight is not painfully bright yet, it is quiet outside, there are birds. Seagulls are morning birds here, and the crows have just woken up and are calling to their team mates. And of course there are few people about. Dog walkers. Cretinous joggers without face masks being in your face healthy. And a few elderly Cantonese Americans starting the day right. Grumpy uncle with the sunglasses, and the auntie with the pistachio ice cream hued hat (mrs. Wong). I greet both of them, but Grumpy Uncle is deaf as a post.
He never says good morning (早晨 'jou san') back.
Auntie waves from the other side.
Opposite sidewalks.

Among the first things little children learn is to respectfully greet older people. Say 'hi' to aunties and uncles (respectively: 阿姨你好 'aa yi, nei hou' 阿叔你好 'aa suk, nei hou'). Not their actual bloodkin, you understand, but most adults. All Cantonese-speaking adults. That habit stays with them throughout their lives, and even in middle age they instinctively do so.
It is disconcerting to realize that I am at the age of "Ah Sook".
I still think of other people in those terms.
Dammit, I have become older.


'Mister' and 'Mrs.' are too formal, that's what you call strangers, doctors, teachers, or people who are not very well known to you. Uncle and Aunt are preferred, even in other languages. The pipe shape above is an "Oom Paul", uncle Paul, after Stephanus Johannes Paulus "Paul" Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic prior to the British invasion.
Known familiarly and affectionately as "Uncle" to his people.

Alfred Dunhill chose to name it a Hungarian, because he was a frightful bigot, snob, and jingoist. A product of his time and place.

It is the only Oom Paul that I own. The shape is not my favourite, and I tend to think of it as a design flaw, because moisture will condense in the heel, and the damned thing cannot be cleaned without taking it apart.
A proper pipe can take a pipe cleaner from the mouthpiece button to the bowl without fuss, which this thing can't do. It's only "passable".
But I shan't get rid of it; it was a gift from Tiberio.
It reminds me of him, Dr. Couris, and Theo.
Theo was a classmate in Holland.

Doctor Couris passed away in 2014, in his eighties. He had been a member of the local pipe club, for whom all of us had much affection. He ONLY smoked Oom Pauls. Because when writing a post surgery report for the files, it was the most convenient shape. It hung so well, and did not require holding or clenching.

For obvious reasons (see comment on cleaning above), I much prefer straight pipes even when working.

Theo, my classmate, smoked shitty tobacco, but painted very well. I lost contact with him after we graduated, he's probably given up on the pipe (because of that tobacco), but I hope he still paints.

The only "painting" I do these days is fussily portraitizing briars from my collection using the Paint Programme on this computer. The background of the illustration above is Hue 19, Saturation 240, Luminescence 202, Red 255, Green 213, and Blue 174.

It is time to go into the kitchen for a lamb chop.
And to fix a cup of strong tea.
Then a smoke.


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