For some reason, a lot of people are asking my advice about pipe smoking.
Am I becoming the iconic pipe smoker?
Anyway, I’m delighted, as I hate cigarettes. They are unhealthy, messy and they smell foul.
Really there is nothing to smoking a pipe. There are those who will try to build up a mystique around it as if it were some Masonic Rite. They will list out the amazing amount of equipment you will need like a pipe for each day of the week [and the materials they must be made of], and the reamers and the knives and the cleaning equipment. They will whisper the rituals of ‘letting pipes breathe between smokes’ and will clean their bowls [nearly put an extra 'e' in there!] with whiskey or honey.
All you need is a pipe, some tobacco and something to light it with.
The only tricky thing about smoking a pipe is the start. It is an art of experience.
So how do you go about it?
My advice would be to get a relatively cheap pipe to start with. There is no point in lashing out a fortune on something that’s going to end up at the back of a drawer. If you like it, you can move on to something more expensive.
Then there is the tobacco. Again there is a lot of crap about this. It is down to personal taste. There are ‘standard’ tobaccos, aromatic tobaccos and flavoured tobaccos, and all sorts of variations in between. I would recommend starting with something standard and mild.
For a long time, I smoked Benson & Hedges Mellow Virginia which is a fairly mild one. Nowadays, I tend to smoke Condor, for two reasons – I like it, and most shops sell it.
Lighting your first pipe is the trickiest bit. The chances are you will have packed the tobacco too tight or too loose [this is where experience comes in]. Too tight, and you can’t draw on it properly; too loose and it just goes out.
Try not to inhale. This is difficult if you are a cigarette smoker, but you’ll soon get out of the habit.
There are loads of advantages to pipe smoking. It is more relaxing, for some reason. You will be more socially acceptable. It is cheaper. It is cleaner [you're not dropping ash everywhere, and there are no butts to litter the ground].
There are some disadvantages. You have to carry a pipe, tobacco and a lighter or matches instead of just a pack of fags. It is also more difficult to bum a smoke! you have to clean the pipe regularly [but, in fact that is part of the pleasure and ritual].
I now smoke one of Elie’s pipes. It’s a great yoke. The smoke has to travel three times the length of the stem and then through a paper filter so it cools the smoke beautifully and takes the majority of the sh*t out.
So, go on.
Give it a try.