I smoked cigarettes for a week and a pipe for one evening.
The cigarettes were Peter Stuyvesant, filter, king size, “rich choice tobaccos”,
the brand name in goldish letters against a white background. I remember
a blue label seal on top of the packet. It was a stylish brand and smoking was
as cool as cool could be as me and Sean Allison, sauntered around Carnlough,
just a couple of young guys on holiday,
make that a couple of classy dudes on vacation.
After a week, we couldn’t be bothered. We gave up smoking.
The pipe? Ah, the auld man’s dummy, as someone said, tempting
to a kid of ten or eleven. There it was, where my brother had left it,
on the hearth. I was in on my own. I looked at it and a dare sounded.
I had seen a man called Maigret on TV. He needed a pipe to solve crimes.
I needed a pipe to be a bigger boy. I lifted it, I put the stem in my mouth,
I sucked and sucked and sucked. I attempted to light it.
Four matches later, smoke.
More sucking and sucking and sucking until my legs went weak,
my stomach churned, my eyes rolled and the room became rubber,
walls and ceiling bending as I staggered to the toilet.
Four steps later, boke.