It was Joan’s funeral yesterday, and an old friend came down from Scotland for the wake. The three of us were all wearing ties simultaneously and in the same room probably for the first time since 1970, when I left Marlborough. The other two were thrown out in the following two years. Ah, youth. We had for a while shared a cottage in the Scottish borders, attempting to make money from various cottage industries. Talk rambled.
“Do you remember?”, said someone, “When we were going to rescue our finances by selling a quarter pound of dope, but then the two of us decided to smoke it all instead, and we did it in ten days?”
“I have no memory of that.”
George, down from Scotland, has given up cigarettes, which means that he smokes a lot of small cigars. My son Felix, who is Julian’s godson, was more or less chain smoking rollups made from tobacco brought in from Germany by his girlfriend. I haven’t smoked properly for fifteen years and have been fighting off a rotten cold for the last fortnight, but this was a wake, so I bummed four roll-ups off Felix and smoked them with huge pleasure, and without inhaling much. This morning I woke to discover the tobacco had done its stuff. Every last bacterium or virus in my throat has been exterminated. Even my cough has gone. Felix, however, complained all the way into London of a pain in his stomach brought on by laughing excessively at these stories of his father’s (and godfather’s) youth. I’m sure there must be some culture where tobacco is treated properly as a medicine.