Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mental Menthol

I've been a strange slave to smoking since I was thirteen years old. I was so desperate to smoke, so keen to do it, and be good at it, and look old and hard and smart and wise and trendy and cool whilst doing it. Trouble is, I didn't like the taste, or the effect. Every attempted session at turning myself into one of those guys who just oozed smokers-cool such as Richard Bradford playing Man in a Suitcase or James Dean in, well, anything really, had the lining of my virginal and pristine lungs whimpering in protest. And not just my lungs, staunch support was right at hand from other reluctant body parts - every hesitant draw would result in my eyes going into into frog-bulge-mode smarting, my brain straight to spin-cycle. True we're only talking tobacco here, but to my body, then, it felt like hard drugs. It was enough to make me feel like a failure.

I had, of course, tried all the usual suspects of the time, the cheap and spiteful teeny-weenie Players No 10s, teenier-weenier, nasty little sovereigns, and Golds, the runts of the Embassy world, harsh tiddlers only really smoked by old women. No cred really. Only old woman cred which is pretty worthless to a young pup-prat.

I was given a life line (death line?) by a rascally chum who had thieved from his travelling dad's cache of exotic ciggies bought with Marks or Guilders or Krona, expensive king-sized delights in baggy packets. Loads of brands with lights (Lites) in the name. And luxurious St Moritz. Mmmm . . . St Moritz. The ultimate menthol. The key to the sluice gates. A Consulate was an ugly dwarf in comparison, described as 'Cool as a mountain stream'by the makers. Pah! Cool as glissading snow-ice St Moritz might have countered, and might have, though sadly I can't remember its promo line.

One night, under the encouraging tutelage of this scamp, I broke myself in on these super mild St Moritz gold banded six inch long, icy cool minty bright whites. . St Moritz . . . Mmmm. The nearest you could get to priming your lungs for the hard, gritty, hacky-racky-baccy battles ahead, with the gentlest of thin, steamy thin, wispily thin, hazy blue, misty blue, smoke. Ghost smoke. Like sucking a ground down extra-strong mint through a hot straw. Candy for the lungs. Lung candy. But with enough of a kick to gently caress the lungs, prime that pink untarnished throat, deaden all those troublesome nerve ends, those sensitive filters, for all those greater, harsher, killer challenges ahead.

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