Thursday, December 03, 2020


A local gentleman from South Africa remarked that his ancestors would not forgive him if he didn't have an Oom Paul. He acquired a very nice Peterson, which was Oom Paulish. Now, for people who have scant clue what I'm going on about here, an Oom Paul is a tobacco pipe with a severe bend where the bowl is almost parallel to the shank, nicknamed 'Oom Paul' after the leader of the Boers in the last part of the nineteenth century, Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger. Who was often seen with just such a pipe.
Which Dunhill refused to call an Oom Paul, dubbing it a 'Hungarian'.
Peterson is a respected Irish pipe company.

[As a biblically educated man, Paul Kruger believed that the earth was flat. Which of course it isn't. Dunhill was in many ways a despicable blister, though with high manufacturing standards. Whose brand still produces nice Oom Pauls.]

For entirely psychological reasons (meaning that I have no clue why), certain shapes of objects speak to the inner man. Or woman. Years ago Pauline liked 'apples' and 'billiards', and if I had delved deeply I probably would have heard about an early memory of a pipesmoker she knew, or that as a child she had held one of those and smelled it fondly.
Perhaps one of the nuns at school.
The pipe above is one of hers I got years ago.
It still smokes as good as it did then.
There are memories attached.

The Oom Paul shape resonates for Bernard. It's a deep and complex appeal He's related to uncle Paulus, and an Afrikaner from solid stock. Not overweeningly proud of his heritage, but nevertheless keenly aware of it, and unchangeably Afrikaans. A world traveler, familiar with much that his forebears would find wondrous or heretical, but always an Afrikaner in exile.
A well-rounded man who has adapted enthusiastically to the world as it is.
When I was in high school, several of my classmates had Oom Pauls made by Comoy. Until about four or five years ago, I did not have one, as I considered it an impractical shape, though I acknowledged it as a classic of which many people were fond. Tibb gave me the one pictured above after I had cleaned up his Comoy Blue Ribands. It's a rather nice exemplar.

My favourite shape is the Squat Bulldog. My father had several (which I now have). And over the years I've acquired a few of them.
There's just something about that flying sauceresque shape that appeals. I cannot explain it, but I can describe the precise characteristics. It's the same as my apartment mate and certain designs of period costume jewelry.

Memory, fetish, emotional strands, and geometry.

Doctor George was very fond of Oom Pauls (Hungarians), not only because he was from the Balkans, but in his mind they had a logical practicality: they hung perfectly between the jaws when he was writing up reports after surgery; it was hands down one of his favourite shapes. Martin T. veers toward Oompauls I've noticed.
Neil favours the typical GBD fat Rhodesian, a semibent squat roundish bulldog with a round rather than diamond shank. Off which I haven't any examples, so no illustration.

Years ago Ross M. expressed mild disapproval of the tobacco I was smoking in a Peterson Sherlock Holmes series Rathbone pipe while around the corner from the regular coffee-klatch.
Which was MacBaren Virginia Flake. Only mildly topped (floral), but he much preferred the aroma of McClellands Virginias and Orlik Golden sliced.
The other people hated all of it.
This morning I smoked the Oom Paul Peterson loaded with Astley's No. 109 flake. In a few hours I shall head over to Chinatown to visit my bank and do some grocery shopping. With the Rathbone, and some 4th. Generation 2012 Anniversary Blend (a Virginia flake with a spritz of pear), of which Ross would probably disapprove (hence the memory flash).

There might be a second pipe in my pocket for later. Specifically a Comoy billiard that before Covid I would smoke once a week.
It had been the last pipe of the day Tuesday evenings, when my friend the bookseller got off work and we'd head over to familiar haunts in Chinatown and Northbeach. That has not happened since early March, obviously, and it's something I miss.
Possibly the last pipe of the day will be an item I acquired from Marty Pulvers back in the early years of this century. According to Calvin, whom I saw over the weekend, he's doing well and full of beans, though there have not been regular get-togethers in Palo Alto for months.

Sometime when it's relatively warm again, and all of this is behind us, we should go down there and see him.

Because of my dad, I am also quite fond of Liverpools and Lovatts. They are very dashing. Both soigné and practical. If a sophisticated and accomplished man can be pictured with a squat bulldog (Clark Gable, for instance), a practical man of the world or a WW2 bomber pilot might have several of them.

William Faulkner, for baffling reasons, preferred a billiard.
Always straight and smooth, often banded.
And those are nice too.


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