Monday, 12 March 2012

A woman is only a woman, but...


...a good cigar is a smoke. (Rudyard Kipling, who ought to have known better.)

I once knew a rather humourless lady called Eithne who was hyper-sensitive about anything that might conceivably reflect disadvantageously on women's place in the world. One suggestion that exercised her particularly was the notion that the best hand-made Havana cigars were rolled on women's thighs. It seemed improbable to me, but her cigar-smoking husband Daz maintained that it was so. Just to tease, I daresay. You know what men are.

Then a few nights ago I was sitting next to Patricia, who sings soprano in my little choir, at a little post-rehearsal celebration. The conversation turned to cigars, don't ask me why. Nothing to do with smoking them: I haven't smoked for about 30 years. Anyway, she (and her husband) had been to Fidel Castro's Cuba some years before and had actually visited the Cohiba cigar factory. The cigar rollers, all men according to her account, sat at tables in long rows, like in a refectory or canteen, all occupied with rolling tobacco leaves into the required shape. They worked on the table, not a female thigh in sight.

There was complete silence, except for one man sitting at a desk on a kind of daïs or platform. He was reading aloud to the 60-odd employees. Patricia, a modern languages adviser specialising in Spanish and English, recognised the book being read as by Balzac. She was gratified that a 19th century French novelist should attract should such close attention from the workers, and was much impressed by a political and economic set-up that promoted work-place entertainment of such a high cultural level. I suppose it was as though the assembly line at - oh, I don't know, let's say a UK hand-made chocolate works - was kept entertained with readings of Dombey and Son.

I mentioned Eithne's problems with female thigh-rolled cigars. Patricia looked at me with eyebrows raised. Was that all I knew? she said. Didn't I know that before the final rolling the embryo cigar had to be rolled over the roller's armpits? H'm. I'm not convinced. You know what women are.

10 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

Drugs and drink yesterday, cigars and thighs today.
Is there no limit to the debauchery on this blog?

Christopher said...

I know, Vicus, and while I'm aware that you're a watchword for purity in thought, word and deed, I have to think of Rog too.

Not to mention some of my lady readers, many of whom, I understand, have thighs.

Martin said...

I haven't smoked for over 30 years, either. Maybe one contributory factor in my giving up, was a cigar that actually did taste as though it had been rolled over an armpit.

Mike and Ann said...

Used to smoke a pipe. Gave it up on Doctor's orders some ten years ago, and even now, especially if strolling outdoors of an evening, I find me fingers twitching for the tobacco pouch and pipe. Ah well - Pass me the old cigar box,
let me consider anew................

Z said...

But surely the time to roll a cigar on one's thigh is when offering it to a gentleman? That's what I've always done...I'm wondering now if I've made the most awful fool of myself.

Christopher said...

Martin: Hi. Or could it have been a\ Hamlet, i.e. rolled over a little thigh?

Mike (I assume it's you, Mike, and not Ann): Yes, I was a pipe-man once. Still miss it, occasionally. Sometimes kind friends let me sniff their pipe tobacco, Gold Block, Three Nuns (Empire Blend), Cope's Escudo, etc. Very nostalgic.

Z: Words fail me, for once. I can only refer you to Vicus for advice.

Rog said...

Yes all this armpits and thigh stuff is making this blog hot and smokey.

Apparently Beethoven's wife used to roll over Beethoven.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. If desperate for baccy, snuff not to be sniffed at.

dinahmow said...

And the cigar goes to....Z, for the best comment. (Hey! It's 5am here, not all neurons are firing yet.)

Christopher said...

Great joke, Rog. Where have you been Haydn it?

M 'n' A: Not that desperate. Sniffing snuff's naff.

MIT: Welcome back! You don't think Vicus deserves a prize for spelling 'debauchery' correctly?