The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for the ‘Kapnismology’ Category

Seeds of Revolt

Posted by Exile on February 28, 2011

I make no secret of my affection for the briar and baccy. I am a smoker, I enjoy it and I enjoy my pipes every day. For me, the thought of giving it up would be akin to stopping breathing. There are those out there in the great big world that would deny me this simple pleasure and if I am to believe their incessant lies, I should have been dead twenty odd years ago as tobacco is killing thousands of people at a distance of some miles due to so-called second hand smoke. Wierdly, I’ve been sucking first-hand, directly injected smoke for donkeys and amazingly, I still wake up in the mornings. Maybe the second hand, used variety is deadlier. As a smoker, I wouldn’t know. I’m not new-religious. And frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.

What really gets my craw up, is the obscene taxation that our oh-so new religious, anti-everything-enjoyable government is forcing upon me in order to “regulate” my behaviour. I’ve had enough. The time has come to revolt. To deny them their pornographically high extraction of my hard earned cash. I hereby declare my independence of their tobacco taxes. Or at least, the beginnings of that revolt.

I have a garden. Little but doubtless productive, I have decided to dig in the earth and prepare it for war. Not by digging trenches. Oh no. I’m planting tobacco. I’m gonna grow my own. Tax-free and legal. And no-one’s gonna stop me.

I’ve sent off for seeds, been to the gardening centre and bought all the necessary paraphernalia to get my seeds going and now I am waiting for the ground to thaw. While I’m waiting, I can get my seeds sprouting and will have time to prepare for the coming agricultural adventure. Obviously, all the hard work starts when I can get digging but until then, I have a lot to learn. My father was the gardener. Not me. So the learning curve will be long and steep. I then have to learn about drying, curing and storage of the expected harvest. One can’t really just pick a leaf, cut it up and smoke it. There are many processes involved after the growing is done before one actually gets to enjoy the weed.

There are places I can go to read all the information necessary. I have joined an internet forum to help me get started. I am not alone with this. I am making contact with other home-growers and a few professionals. I won’t say success is guaranteed, but it is achievable.

The first blow has been struck. I have planted my seeds today and await their germination in about five to ten days time. Six weeks from now and they will be transplantable and will probably go into pots for a hardening period. By then, the weather should have improved enough to start serious planting.

I’ll be back on this topic later. Wish me luck.


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Silver Jubilee

Posted by Exile on March 9, 2008

There was cause for celebration today in the shack, known as home, to me. I have been in this country for 25 years today. I have no idea where those years went. They have raced by. As things go, I am doing OK. The past 25 years have been more good to me than they have been bad. There have been more ups than downs. I’m happy here.

I had planned to have some sort of celebration but all that went overboard a month or so ago when I found out that the date collided with the Danish Championship for slow pipe smoking.  Not wishing to miss the annual  cough and choke competition, I have deferred  to the athletic pursuit of tobacco smoking  and will invite my buddies to a whisky tasting afternoon at the shack next weekend. Which should be fun, if not extremely expensive.

The pipe smoking was fun too. I didn’t win. I never will. I haven’t got the knack of getting three grams of tobacco to burn for over two and a half hours, so I don’t really have a chance. But just being part of the madness is great fun and one gets to see old friends and, perhaps, find some new ones too. The exhibition is a sight to behold too. Pipemakers displaying their handiwork, pipe restorers selling vintage and estate pipes and so on. I found another little pearl today. A 12 year old Peterson meerschaum “Gold Supreme” with silver mount. Hardly smoked and in beautiful condition, complete with original pouch, box and papers. I think it is of African meerschaum, not Turkish.
The highlight of my day was one of the pipemakers who saw my selection of pipes for the day in my pipe satchel. He examined them and congratulated me on their condition and the care that I have given them. Praise indeed, from one of the outstanding Danish pipemakers.

All in all then, not a bad day. If I was going to have a party then I couldn’t have done it better myself. A whole day surrounded by friends, beer, hot snacks and a celebration of one of my favourite hobbies. Now I’m going to sit back and relax for the evening with a huge single malt, my “new” pipe, some good tobacco, my armchair with my feet up by the stove and whatever the talking box can serve up for my enjoyment.

Some days life is just good. There should be more of ’em!

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Smile Please

Posted by Exile on March 1, 2008

pic00001.jpgI’ve been experimenting with my camera. Having tried to take photo’s of some of my more expensive pipes, as much for insurance reasons as for bragging purposes, I didn’t get much of a result before. Having read the handbook that followed the camera, I have found out how to take “macro” shots. So here’s my Peterson 2002 Limited edition. A beauty, ain’t she? And the picture isn’t too bad either. Having the picture here, on the internet, means that even if the computer breaks down, I can still show the picture to anyone with internet access. Which is great if I loose the pipe or it gets stolen. Maybe I should catalogue all my pipes like this? At least the expensive ones.

pic00002.jpgHere’s another one. My meershaum by Sevket Gezer, Turkey, signed and beautifully carved it is known as the “Two Dragons” because of the twin dragons carved on either side of the pipe. After four years it is starting to “take colour” on the shank. The great thing about these meerschaums is, that even though the patterns are copied, no two are alike. Sevket is known for his floral decoration on pipes and this one is no exception.
A few points about meerschaum. It is a porous material. Don’t get meerschaum pipes wet. Don’t smoke them with dirty hands. They will take sweat and dry out, but dirty sweat will leave a fingerprint on the pipe that will never come out. Wash your hands before filling the bowl and lighting up. It is not as fragile a material as one is led to believe. Other than that, they are wonderful to smoke.

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Aromatic Tobacco

Posted by Exile on February 24, 2008

As I have mentioned before, my tobacconist is moving. I buy my tobacco from what I believe is probably the last of the great blenders. I have my own recipe for my pipe tobacco. It is a blend of 80% rough cut virginia, and equal amounts of burley and latakia. I am currently considering having a little perique added to the blend but conservatism holds me back as yet. My tobacconist is Poul Olsen’s My Own Blend. olsen.pngThe parent company, Orlik Tobacco, has bought up the Danish department of Davidoff and has decided in its infinite wisdom to combine the two shops in the old Davidoff premises, which means that my comfortable little tobacco shop is closing as such. I suppose the idea is to create a sort of “Gentlemens equipper” with everything from pipes to aftershave and fine spirits.Today was the last day. I went off to visit. I needed to buy tobacco anyway, so the journey wasn´t entirely just for the chatter.

Thinking I could sort of sneak in and get out quickly, as I had other things to do, was hurredly thrown overboard as I ran in to some of my mates from my pipe club who were also bargain hunting and visiting the shop for the last time in its present form. We decided to break all the anti smoking laws for the day and promptly filled our pipes and lit up. The guys that staff the place were elated. Memories of how it used to be came drifting back as the smoke began to permeate through the old woodwork and display cabinets full of fine hand made Danish and foreign pipes. I have rarely seen so many customers in the shop at one time. Business was brisk on the last day. Congratulations, hopes of continued success, hand shaking and well wishing.

I couldn’t help feeling that the tobacconist is part of my extended family. People come there that I know. My friends are there. I hear news of others that I haven’t seen for some time from the staff. We can leave messages for each other there. “Say hello to… if he drops in”. “So and so was here last week, he said, did, bought..” and so on. “This guy is ill, this one’s on holiday in wherever, did you hear about?..” A mine of invaluable gentlemens gossip.
The place has been a part of my social network. It would be a shame if that went down the drain.

I realise that things change, that there are people that will make life changing decisions for me without my consent or consultation. Like this bloody ridiculous smoking ban, which is the most anti social piece of legislation ever thought of in human memory. I can’t help wondering if that hasn’t had something to do with Orlik’s decision to amalgamate my tobacconist with a bloody expensive perfume store. Still, I’ll have to give it a chance. No point passing judgement before the trial is over.

I just hope I get to be as content with the new premises as I was with the old.

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Bargain Basement

Posted by Exile on February 16, 2008

I went shopping today. Not just any old shopping. My tobacconist is moving the business to a new address where two businesses will be amalgamated into one. The excess stock has to go. Including some very nice and very valuable pipes. Armed to the teeth with my trusty credit card, I drove into the heart of Copenhagen, determined to find that certain something that will afford me a great deal of pleasure.

My pipe collection has grown larger during the past few months, so I am not in direct need of a new pipe. My birthday and Christmas brought riches beyond my desires and I am not one to just dash off and buy a new pipe, but occasionally circumstances outweigh commonsense. This was one of those occasions.

Here’s a quick resumé of my luck going back to mid November.

styp2007.jpgMy wife, bless her, bought me a pipe on my birthday in November. A Stanwell pipe of the year from 2006. A lovely little pipe, reminiscent of a Rhodesian cut. Light and easy to hold in the mouth or the hand, it is a lovely pipe. She got it at half price because the shop was discontinuing its business with pipes and tobaccos. Which is unfortunate for me as a customer, but fortunate for me as a collector.

petyp2006.jpgI had to go and see what was going for grabs. I found a Peterson pipe of the year, also from 2006. With a silver cap on the bowl and a ring on the shank, I couldn’t say no to this pipe at half price. Described as a poker cut, the pipe is flat at the bottom and will stand alone on the table top. Which means you can put it down and it won’t roll away. Despite its size, it is not heavy and sits nicely between my back teeth!

stmasterpiece.jpgFor Christmas, my dear lady gave a superb pipe. A Masterpiece edition from Stanwell, hand cut by Tom Eltang. I have met Tom. He cuts all his pipes in the hand. Machining is kept to a minimum. This is a jewel of a pipe. 12 layers of laquer seal the woodwork. The pipe is flawless. It comes with a sturdy wooden presentation case, certificate of origin, cotton gloves and a pouch for transportation. Delightful!

petltded.jpgAnd so, to today. I was looking for a competitor to all the above. I found one. A Peterson again. Long neglected and, perhaps because of the price, a forgotten limited edition pipe from 2002. With a silver army mount and big enough to fill my somewhat large hand, this is a well balanced piece of elegant flamegrain briar. The boring in this pipe is gorgeous. The bowl and air shaft meet beautifully dead centre in the base of the bowl. I got it at half price. Having smoked it once, very gently, I know this is going to be one of my favourites. I have always wanted a pipe with a silver army mount.

Forgive my amateurish attempts at photographing these beautiful pieces of art and craftmanship, but I believe that a thing of beauty should be seen by all.

Four collectors pipes in three months. Who’s a lucky boy then?

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Wax Job

Posted by Exile on January 20, 2008

No. It’s not what you think. This has nothing to do with removing hair. It has to do with one of my favourite passions. My pipes. Or, to put it correctly, the care of my pipes.

When one buys a new pipe it is highly polished, unless it is of the rustic finish variety, In which case it never needs polishing, merely wiping over with a waxed cloth to keep a slight shine on the finish and remove dust. Polished pipes however, lose their shine with use and handling. Every now and then one has to get them repolished to keep them looking nice.
Well, it won’t be long before all my pipes look like they did when they were brand new.

After years of searching, I have finally acquired a polishing machine. Actually, it is a grinding machine with an etended shaft to accomodate polishing wheels. The wheels are of cloth and need to be primed with waxes to achieve the desired result. All this paraphanalia doesn’t normally come cheap, but I have friends and I know how to bargain!

The long and the short is, that I was given an arc welding kit that I didn’t need and couldn’t use, and traded it for the grinder. My pal had the grinder and was about to buy a bigger, more professional one. He is a self employed entrepreneur. He needed the welding kit, I needed the grinder. He is also the guy who has the connections to get the polishing kit and the wax.
It took a while and a lot of tobacco and chit chat, but the deal is done now and I am going to have to spend a few hours polishing the sixty or so pipes I have in my collection. Actually, I am looking forward to it.

One has to be a bit careful at the start. The grinder runs at high speed, so one has to get a firm grip on the pipe or you can kiss it goodbye, as it flies either skyward or downward, if you allow the wheel to tear the thing from your hands. You have to use the right wax, you have to find the right pressure against the wheel and you have to be careful not to overwax the cloth. Too much wax and it becomes impossible to hold the pipe and to polish the pipe up is almost impossible. Too little and one merely wears the surface of the pipe.

finish_lille.jpgI have polished pipes before, under the watchful eye of a retired pipemaker. He gave me a quick course in the do’s and don’ts of the polishing wheel. Unfortunately, the old guy died a few years ago, but the wisdom he imparted so generously to me has stayed with me. I probably won’t polish one pipe without remembering dear old Kaj.

My only worry now is, that once the word gets out, all my pipe smoking pals will be knocking on my door and asking to use the machine. Not that that could be a problem. They can use it of course, it’s just that all the stout and tobacco that will follow these pleasant episodes will cost me a fortune.
After all, you can’t expect to put two pipe smokers together without they fill a pipe or two and get round to a good long yarn and then just passing the time of day with pleasant conversation over a pipe becomes thirsty work!

I’m looking forward to that too.

Who said smoking is bad for you?

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Smoke on the Waiter

Posted by Exile on July 29, 2007

We went off to the town last night. It was a farewell to Copenhagen’s night life.

A smoking ban comes into force this week, making it impossible to smoke in pubs, clubs, nightclubs and restaurants. This is to protect the many waiters and bar staff and such from the evils of “passive smoking”. So we decided to have a last fling.

One of our favourite restaurants is the famous Copenhagen Corner. Expensive but equally excellent. We hadn’t booked. There is usually room for two. On reaching the restaurant we asked for a table for two. “Smoking or non-smoking?”. “Smoking please”. The maitre d’ spied out across the less than half full restaurant . “Sorry”, he said “The smoking area is full. I can put you in the non-smoking area.”

Hmmm.. The smoking area was full, and the non-smoking area was as empty as a desert. “It would appear there are more smokers than non-smokers.” said my good lady. “Yes”, said the maitre d’. Which doesn’t bode well for the future.

We declined his offer and moved on to Tivoli gardens. Finding a restaurant catering for us smokers, with a view over the lawn, (which isn’t really a lawn. It’s covered in gravel) we were placed by the window. The food was good, the wine was excellent, the staff pleasant and extremely polite and we spent a very agreeable two and a half hours enjoying the ambience. I looked around the restaurant. Again, the smokers far outnumbered the non-smokers.

Leaving Tivoli, we adjourned to a little club not far away. Mojo. The best blues club in town. It isn’t big. Room for about 150 people if no one dances! Catching the second set and singing our heads off to the familiar numbers, we had a great time. Again, most of the public were smokers but the air conditioning seemed to cope extraordinarily well.

I have a theory about all of this. Obviously, when the smoking ban comes into force, these places are going to suffer. And badly. Why? because the people that go out into the night life are the smokers. The non-smokers don’t go out. They don’t smoke because they can’t afford a pack of cigarettes, and neither can they afford to take a night on the town. Which makes a bit of a mockery of this smoking ban. It’s going to remove the smoke from the waiter, yes. It will surely also remove the waiter from the restaurant. In fact, it will remove the restaurants too.

Farewell Copenhagen. It was nice knowing you. I’ll be eating at home from now on.

Prove me wrong if you can!

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Posted by Exile on June 9, 2007

I have a good selection of tobacco pipes. Not a large collection by any standards, but I have about sixty pipes and they are all in good condition. I keep them that way by constant care and maintenance. I polish them, ream out the bowls, draw a cognac soaked pipe cleaner through the mouthpieces once in a while and place them lovingly in their cupboard when I have finished smoking them to dry and recover. I believe in looking after my friends.

As any pipe smoker will tell you, one has pipes and then one has one’s pipe. You get to have a favourite. It is never bitter or sour, burns evenly and always to the bottom, is easy to hold in the hand or between the back teeth and just seems to fit you, almost like a part of your body. I have two such pipes. They are identical in design, made by the same manufacturer and are now about 20 years old. You wouldn’t think so to look at them. I have looked after them. This was confirmed for me the other day. I decided to get the old bakelite mouthpieces replaced with the newer acrylic material that mouthpieces are made of today. I drove to the original pipe makers with my two favourite pipes and presented him with them, explaining what I wanted done. He couldn’t believe the condition they were in and was highly impressed. “You haven’t smoked them much”, he commented. “Only once or twice every day since I’ve had them”, I replied. He was shocked, or pleasantly surprised. “Wow. Then you really have looked after them well”, he said. Much to my satisfaction.

I got the guided tour round the factory. He showed me all the processes involved in pipemaking, the briar blocks that get fashioned into pipes, the machining, the hand finishing and polishing, and the factory museum. Handsome old pipe models in their original showcases. Some of which I have, most of which I don’t. A collection representing fifty years of pipe manufacture. I spent almost an hour with the pipe maker discussing the art and beauty that comes from a thing so simple as a tobacco pipe.

My pipes came back to me by post today. The old mouthpieces were included in the package, with the new mouthpieces fitted to my pipes. They look wonderful. See the picture here. The pipes, newly polished with coal black mouthpieces, look wonderful. The new mouthpieces are slightly longer than the originals but that only improves the look of the pipes. It’s like having a new pipe all over again. Except they aren’t new. They are my old and trusted friends that have come back after a break at the pipe spa. Refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where we left off.

I’m looking forward to my evening pipe and glass of scotch. It’s good, seeing old friends again. I missed them.

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