this is a pipe


As a boy I owned, and kept in a drawer containing my personal treasures, a pamphlet entitled Pipes and Pipemen. On the cover was a drawing of a bouffant-haired man (this was the mid-Seventies) puffing on a pipe with eyes half-closed in rapture. Inside was some purple stuff about ‘the pleasures of the briar’, followed by a list of all the men who’d won the Pipe Smoker of the Year award. I knew some of these men, and their pipes, from watching children’s television. There was the bucolic broadcaster Jack Hargreaves (Pipe Smoker of the Year 1969), who was apparently a very important player at Southern Television, but who was always dressed as though about to go fly-fishing. When, as a panellist on the programme How!, it was his turn to explain some scientific curiosity to his audience of eight- to fourteen-year-olds, there would be a good few seconds of preliminary pipe-puffing – very relaxing for Jack, but very tense-making for us children as we fretted: ‘Is he ever going to take that thing out of his mouth and begin?’

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