Chewing the fat at work today, the American War of Independence was the topic of interest. Don't know what brought that on, but there you go.
Peter Stuyvesants name was mentioned. Apparently, he was one of the early governors of New York, or was that New Amsterdam? I digress.
Hearing that name swiftly took me back to my youth when it was really cool to smoke. Do you remember Peter Stuyvesant fags back in the sixties/seventies? I think I had my first drag of a coffin nail when I was around fourteen. We had the ubiquitous corner shop just down the road from the school gates, where the greasy proprietor would often flog us youngsters ten Park Drive with a box of penny matches. We were all pretty convinced the shopkeeper was an old perve but with a Woodbine hanging from yer gob, you were considered 'ard. The brave ones would strut past the girls school, fag clinging precariously from the corner of their mouth, hoping to be spotted by one of the nubile young things. They usually got spotted by an eagle eyed teacher, which resulted in a sore arse. No, they did not bugger them, but the slipper was brought forth. Remember the times when teachers were allowed to whack you with the nearest available weapon? Didn't do me any harm.
As I grew out of my short trousers (what?), my preference for fags went onto Number six, or 'numbo's' as we used to call them. Looking at the size of cigarettes today amazes me how the tobacco companies got away with flogging fags that were about three inches, or a dozen drags, long.
On joining the Royal Navy I was introduced to the hacking cough and phlegm inducing 'Blue Liners'. These were manufactured specifically for members of the RN and were distinguishable by the blue line running down the cigarette. They were reputed to be made from the sweepings off the factory floor. Dragging on one of those bastards was enough to give anyone a hernia. Once out to sea, you could buy kingsize fags from the NAFFI shop. Needless to say, I was in much demand when coming home amongst all my civvy mates with their little numbo's.
My smoking days were numbered not long after leaving the mob. The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the time put the price of a packet of fags up to ten bob. "Sod that for a lark" I thought and promptly gave up never to smoke again.
And that was a bloody surprise.