Friday, 14 September 2012

Sketches from a Cigar Smoker's Album: Volume 3 - The Pelican's Brief

There is no easier way to make yourself into a remarkably unpopular person than lighting up a cigar in a public place, but it was a hot day, the sun was shining and the thought of a coffee and a smoke in one of Her Majesty’s finest park was too much to resist. 

Business brought me to the bustle of the Strand early on a Friday morning and as luck would have it, my next appointment was not until lunchtime. With a few hours to kill I decided that I would grab a stoggie at the fantastic J J Fox of St. James followed by a coffee and a seat in the park. 

The cigar of choice was a new kid on the block, the NUB Cameroon, a delicious blend of Nicaraguan tobacco bound in a wrapper from the African country of which it takes it name. I first had one of these in Leeds when I was a student, it was on promotion at Greens (a very well stocked vendor on the Briggate for anyone who finds themselves in that illustrious city) and it had been memorable. So imagine my joy when I found that it was readily available in town! 

The NUB Cameroon is a beast! With a whopping ring gauge of 64 and a mere 4 inches in length it’s like the Sly Stallone of the cigar world with a subtlety that has sadly eluded the actor over the course of his career (testified by such stellar titles as Oscar and Stop! or my mom will shoot). In a word it is delicious and at £13.50 (can be cheaper elsewhere) is one of the better value, high quality non-Cuban examples on the market. Its gentle flavour, healthy smoke-plume and longevity make this indispensable to many a connoisseur - although I can imagine many expert chocking on their Cohibas at the mere idea of including it in their humidor. 

I strode imperiously into St James Park under the watchful gaze of the Duke of York from his lofty perch with a coffee and copy of the Telegraph. finding a bench perfectly positioned  in front of the lake and basking in the mid-morning sunshine I lit my purchase. Testament to the care with which it had been stored it lit evenly and threw up a steady flow of smoke, much to the annoyance of the people seated on the other benches who crinkled their noses in disapproval and gave me a variety of filthy looks, which I just had to ignore. They must have known I was in for a long haul. After a while such looks gave way to indifference and one attractive couple seated on the bench next to mine eventually lit up themselves, probably encouraged by my solidarity as the beleaguered smoker in an unsympathetic society. 

I had finished the paper containing its usual disdain for all manner of perceived faults by the Coalition government with the NUB still going strong and turned my attention to the water and the myriad birds on the water when I say a most majestic creature. I must confess that up to this point in my existence I had never seen a pelican, and was ignorant to the fact that there were any in St James Park. it must have been quite tame for it landed in a flourish and performed a veritable floor show for the assembled crowd of tourists who got their cameras out to snap a memento of this sighting for their scrapbooks. Oh how I wish this specimen had gobbled up the camera of one of the portly well-wishers who got dangerously close to its substantial beak but alas, this was not meant to be! I don’t know if these animals like cigars, but if it had I would have certainly offered it a toke for a most magnificent display - however I fear it would merely have mangled it with its unsuitable eating apparatus! 

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