When I was very poor, and this I will tell you was not too long ago, I began to smoke cigarettes. The smallest luxury then recalled, I suppose, the greater ones when I was a child.
I bought cigarettes to smoke as a soldier would. I have never been a soldier but my father has and he tells me that a small pleasure will often suffice for a greater one. The poor deal in parts.
I would and will buy the strongest and most expensive cigarettes available. Will’s Goldflake, Sweet Afton, Passing Clouds in a salmon-pink box with a birthday-blue insert of Sir Walter Raleigh, yellow Gitanes, the strength of tobacco satisfying my taste and the cost discouraging everything.
My father smokes. He recalls the early morning of a day at war, an enlisted man striking the first fire in the wet country air, an officer’s gold lighter appearing like the sun through fog briefly.
I recall running my bath while buying a morning newspaper and having my bath with a cigarette, a newspaper and a rather provincial breakfast, jam, never jelly, and bread and butter, while the whole of the city of London went to work with the momentum of men going to war.
Of all the things that we might have shared, including those years when my father refused to support me, it is a taste for tobacco which we share now.