Thursday, July 22, 2021


Several years ago, when my apartment mate was still my girlfriend, I once smoked three bowls of McClelland flakes in the teevee room very late at night; she didn't notice anything the next morning, and my mouth felt like Joe the Camel had crawled in there and died of the plague. She had been in her bedroom with the door closed, and I had cracked a few windows for ventilation. Flakes, being soft Virginia leaf, are stealth tobaccos.

[Explanations: She used to be my girlfriend. We are still very good friends, and you never give up on people you can trust, who are safe to be around, and non-abrasive. The alternatives are loneliness or living with neurotics and drug addicts, especially in San Francisco. And if she weren't here the stuffed creatures would have far less of a voice. Virginias are flue-cured golden seed stock tobaccos, with a higher natural sugar content than other leaves. Smoked slow, they are ethereal and deeply satisfying, with an old-fashioned aroma of sunlight and summer, very conducive to memories and moods. Like all such things, Vegans and other disapproving puritanical types hate them. Tobacco smoke enrages my apartment mate's eczema, which I did not know until fairly recently. So the apartment must air out for several hours before she comes home. And her door is firmly shut during the day. Her sense of smell is less acute than mine.]

McClelland is no more. That venerable company closed it's doors a few years ago, and the howls of anguish and despair were palpable, even to cynical hermits in San Francisco who avoid other pipe smokers and sneer at their fanaticism. Not that I know anyone like that.

[By the way: I still have a four-year supply of McClelland, which I'm gloating over but not smoking at all; I have moved on, and if I open a tin that's one less in the stockpile. One less! Which would be unthinkable. A disaster.]

Nick at SP recommended C&D Red Carpet, Joe F. from Laudisi a few years ago suggested Yorktown. From the description, Derringer looked good. And Carolina Red was a no-brainer. These things and matters around them connect the months and years.
Please note that the globulous cloisonné owl and the rubber finger daemon in the picture are guardians of the computer table in the teevee room; but other than that play no significant part. Neither does the spraycan of MAN-POWER ("The anti-bacterial Deodorant"), which is a relic from the seventies, and may at some point find use as a threatening device.
All four pipes shown are Petersons.

Precisely what the name suggests. Unpretentious, but richly rewarding. Notes of fruit, earth, herbals, as you would expect from a top-notch flue-cured leaf. Extremely enjoyable.
Tangy, with a lingering sweetness on the tongue.
Gently walloping. It has depth.

Another straight Virginia blend, this one is brightish and creamy. Perfect for a late night stroll around the neighborhood. Grass, hay, and faint hints of Mediterranean herbs and pepper.
If this were aftershave, I'd wear it.

Red Virginias and Perique. The faintest hint of somebody else's house, which they keep clean, but there may be a decadent sachet or potpourri in one of the upstairs bedrooms, probably the lingerie drawer. Heaven forfend, silk stockings or opera gloves.
A broken flake, with a balanced inclusion of Perique.
This is a solid product, and very well behaved.

Stoved Red Virginia mixed with Bright and restoved, then blended with some more Virginia. So it's complex, with a subtle breadth and depth. A citrussy floral ribbon-cut blend, suggestive of Port and dried fruits. Grass, bread, hay. On the milder side.

All four products are excellent, and their fragrances bring back shadows and hidden memories. These are tobaccos that everyone's mythical granddad would have smoked, if he avoided the lure of perfumed toffee-caramel dreck cavendishes with their sweeteners and flavourings.
As a severely disapproving puritan, I abhor all such rancid aromatics.
Cherry Bombe Glacée? No thank you.

"I love the smell of pipe tobacco, it reminds me of my grandfather!"

"Your grandfather was probably a fiend who used Brut aftershave."

What brought all of this to mind was Quinton in Delft posting a few pictures of his early morning walk. Older buildings, sunlight, long shadows from the angle of the rays after dawn. He was at that time smoking Peterson Flake (which used to be sold under the Dunhill marque, though actually made in the Orlik factory in Denmark, which it still is). Summer light in Northern Europe is different, less intense and more silvery. Somewhat subdued compared to California, but it requires an ability to distinguish such things to notice. Quint is a good photographer.
I could almost smell the place and feel the air there.


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