Friday, 15 January 2016

Sketches from a cigar smoker’s diary: Rub-a-dub-dub

On New Year’s Eve, I made a promise to a friend, one Mr P. Spencer, that I would re-activate the ‘Sketches’ series (which sees me enjoying stogies in extraordinary places). Perhaps he is right, I certainly need to break up the protracted travelogue that I have spent eight wearying months writing! However, I initially felt at a loss, I’ve smoked some cracking cigars in the past year yet, I feared that I was not really going to add much to the discussion, is a pack of Cafe Cremes smoked on a Barge in the Ardenne that different to a Punch chugged on the Boisdale’s terrace? 

Troubled by such rumination and fruitless thoughts, I decided to run myself a nice hot bath. Not being a gentleman of any repute, I had to draw it myself, although, wearing a very fetching Turkish smoking jacket made me feel a little more chi-chi as I put a few drops of lavender soap in the tub. It was a brisk December evening and I was looking forward to a long soak, where the desired result is that your fingers and toes look akin to prunes. 

The evening was all about personal decadence - I had just polished off a dish of Gamberi Arrabiata (Spicy, Italian prawns) with crusty bread and plenty of roughly chopped parsley and a few glasses of Gavi. To round off a very agreeable evening, aside from the bath, I thought a wee dram or two of Bruichladdich were in order and a few pages of Dorothy L Sayers (the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey series)… and the bath.

I had once written a facebook message, expressing my horror at people who ate in the bath yet I allowed both drinking and smoking, it was time to put this rule to the real test. In the past I have enjoyed many alcoholic beverages in the company of water: the cheeky beer in the pre-night out shower, the G&T or Pimms in the swimming pool, the plastic cup of rose at the beach… you catch the drift. Smoking doesn’t really work in the shower and in proximity to water I’m usually more of a French cigarette kind-a-fella. I had smoked a few times in the bath previous, but these were cigarillos and the most adventurous I had got was a Villager Export, there’s something a little sleazy about it, a bit like Burt Reynolds at the Playboy Mansion in 1978. 

I had to give it a go with something special. Reaching into my humidor, I withdrew a fine NUB Cameroon, a short, stout cigar (much reflecting the writer’s current build!) for the purpose. 

As I slid into the bath I was enveloped in a plume of steam, I like ‘em hot and I started to question as I sweated from the heat, whether this was a great idea. A slug of the Scotch persuaded me that it definitely was and I set to work lighting up and drawing deep from this ever reliable cigar as I read my murder mystery and bouyantly poured myself a large measure (the tub has a very convenient and spacious pair of corners just right for an ashtray, a bottle and a cut glass tumbler. 

I languished, relaxed, pondered, read at leisure, it was all going so well until a very rude, vulgar but ultimately important sound roused me from my sedate position. The agonising beep of the smoke alarm, tested to its very limits decided to kick into action. ‘For F%$&s sake’ I exclaimed, almost sending the tumbler crashing to the floor, as I emerged from the bathroom starkers with a cigar clenched in my jaws (probably much like Burt Reynolds at the Playboy Mansion sans the medallion and moustache). Perching clumsily on a chair I managed to disarm the wretch, damn those machines pack a punch and settled back to my bathtub to continue this very indulgent pastime. 

As I soaked, I wondered, would I recommend this to others? In a word… Yes! It’s cracking good fun and one of the best mediums in which to smoke, whether it is a Turkish cigarette or a Romeo e Julieta Churchill, consider the bath a certified smoking den for the connoisseur!  

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