Friday, September 2, 2011

When a Good Cigarette was Just a Smoke

I started smoking  when I went to London to study. I settled on Players Navy Cut very soon afterwards. I wanted to smoke non-tipped cigarettes because I liked the look of them; elegant, exotic, unfussy but classy. And they tasted better.  I had read about someone, a character in a book, who had been given the habit of smoking them ‘backwards’, with the name end away from the mouth. You can’t do that with tipped ciggies. I quickly developed a similar habit, pulling it out, tapping it once on the packet to tighten up the tobacco in the end that was going in your mouth, and then put it in directly that way, so it goes in ‘backwards’. Why on earth it should matter I don’t remember, probably because we were young and these things seemed important. Appearance and style do at that age, as you have little else.

I smoked Players because of that type they were the ones I liked best. Possibly the first I bought, so it might have been chance. There were others I smoked from time to time, as a change, to try them or because I couldn’t get Players at a particular moment. There was Woodbines, of course. Very good cigarettes. At the time they seemed a little small. (When I returned to England in the 90’s, on the other hand, I found Players too large or too strong and I smoked Woodbines for years.)

The ones I most often switched for were Senior Service, which were very similar but not quite so smooth. There was Park Drive, slightly smaller I think, in a packet with red on, and intended to be a little superior to the others. Good as well, they were. There was Capstan Full Strength, which were what they said they were. Smoke a few of those with your beer in the evening and next morning you could hardly breathe. I only tried them once or twice.

I seem to remember something called Pall Mall, and a type of Chester or Kent. Vague memories, possibly wrong.

My flatmate brought me back a pack of Sweet Afton ("Flow gently sweet Afton among the green braes, flow gently I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise"; Rabbie Burns dixit) from Ireland, I think (maybe something wrong there). They were similar to Park Drive, and the packet was worth displaying on the mantelpiece. I wish I’d kept it.

In Spain I started smoking Bisonte and Tres Caravelas, which were similar in that they were red tobacco and non-tipped. Both about the size of Woodbines, narrower and shorter than Players. But they were poor quality, very rough, and I switched to Ducados, black tobacco, which I smoked there until I gave it up seven years ago.

Have I missed any?


Vincent said...

Camels and Lucky Strikes were good. At university I mainly smoked Senior Service, sometimes Players. Untipped of course.

CIngram said...

Of course, how could I have forgotten those two. I wonder if they still sell them untipped. Both Camel and Lucky had a taste that I found a little grating after a packet or two, but they were good for a change.

James Higham said...

Never really got into it. Never sort of bothered much - did occasionally.

CIngram said...


Smoking is one of those things that, if you've never done it, you haven't missed anything. I'm glad I gave up, it was a waste of money and I woke up coughing every morning, as well as having to be constantly aware of where the pack and the lighter were, and where I was. On the other hand the witchhunt against smokers, and by extention anyone who takes pleasure in anything, annoys me greatly.

JD said...

friend of mine has smoked Ducados ever since he arrived in Spain about 40 years ago and he smokes lots of them
not sure how he is still alive-
my daughter(a nurse)says it will probably kill him if he stops

CIngram said...


A man needs a hobby, otherwise what would he when he retires.