Friday, 11 October 2013

The Big Sleep and The Big Smoke
by James Leavey

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, with the sun shining through the windows of Grafton Street's bars.

I was wearing my weathered dark blue suit, with a dark blue shirt, tie, black brogues, and a pair of light brown socks embroidered with 'Piss off! I'm smoking an Havana'.

If it wasn't for the socks and the aroma from my Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2, Dublin's anti-smoking twiddly-twats would have barely noticed.

But their wrinkled noses indicated they had registered my passing en route to The DCE. 

At ground level a light went on in the tiny brains of their anally-retentive cronies.  They were crawling through the gutters looking for discarded cigarette and cigar butts to be used as evidence of just how thoughtless their betters (i.e. considerate, unassuming, law-abiding cigar smokers like me) are.

Not that I gave a flying fuck.  I was everything the well-dressed professional cigar smoker ought to be.  I was calling on Mr Guy Hancock and almost a million Euros worth of prime Cuban tobacco, smokers' accessories and fine booze.

On the way downtown I had stopped for some light refreshment at several bars, i.e. just the pints of Guinness without my usual The Wild Geese Irish whiskey chasers. Thought I'd leave the best for the last.

Just before I entered The DCE's cigar aficionado's haven, an under-brained, over-opinionated, poncy, anti-smoking prick grabbed my arm and grunted, 'Those stinky things will kill you almost as quick as they murder passive smokers like me.'

I removed his grasping claw, grabbed his throat and growled, 'If you're a passive smoker why don't you shut up and be passive.  Even better, fuck off and leave me alone before I burn a hole into your thick puritanical skull and let a little air and sense into it.'

Then I let the spluttering bastard go and took a long puff of the excellent Havana I was enjoying, until Mr Twiddly-Twat rudely interrupted me, and exhaled, 'As for the passive smoking, dummy, there has never been any hard scientific evidence that exhaled tobacco smoke causes cancer.  But that hasn't stopped the born-again puritans and grasping insurance companies and politicians of the world giving smokers a hard time.

'Now open your big furry ears and listen carefully:

'We will all end up sleeping the Big Sleep, except in my case there'll be a huge smile on my face for having lived a long life to the full.  Sad feckers like you will be lying there wishing they'd done the same before it was too late.

'And if you ever lay your slimy hands on me again you will be sleeping permanently, sooner rather than later.'

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Electronic perfumed cigars?  Lighten up!
by James Leavey

There are strong signs that Ireland is at last witnessing the green shoots of recovery after the fall of the Celtic Tiger.

Or maybe it's just the shamrock growers getting ready for St Patrick's Day (March 17 – you heathens!).

Whatever.  To me, it's just another great excuse to celebrate life with a fine cigar.

Talking of which, a fellow nicotine lover recently asked me why you rarely see a priest in an Irish cigar shop.

'That's because nobody under the age of 18 is allowed in,' I told him.

Talking of feckin' chancers, some of those shady companies trading in electronic cigarettes are thinking about extending their range to include perfumed electronic ciggies, and, God Help Us and Save Us, electronic fucking cigars.

Now here's the turns out these electronic devices that appear to simulate a smoke are more dangerous than the real thing.  It's that liquid nicotine they use to suck in smokers.

Besides, any tobacco that needs the addition of another flavour is, in my opinion, not worth igniting.

That includes those cheap cigarillos flavoured with all kinds of noisome shite.

Think about it...if the tobacco in  a cigar is good it doesn't need enhancing or ruining with something else.

And as most of the flavours suggested for electronic puffs or any other electronic alternative tobacco products, is sweet...they may appeal to young idiot potential smokers who have already been conned into serious boozing via alco-fucking-pops.

The fact is that most of those companies who have leapt onto the anti-smoking bandwagon don't actually want their customers to stop smoking.  They just want them to try and quit, and with this in mind sell them a piece of crap at vastly inflated prices.

It's cheaper and far better to smoke less by smoking better – so maybe it's time to switch to the occasional premium Havana instead of chain-smoking cheap tobacco.

Meanwhile, the anti-smoking lobby want to take over the smoking market but don't seem to be too bothered – unlike the tobacco companies they are trying to take down – to produce alternative smoking products that are actually safe to use.

As for electronic cigars...maybe they should only produce very wide girth, long versions into which they can insert a couple of AA batteries, turn them into vibrators, and stick them up their arse.

Now, for those of you who are serious dedicated cigar lovers like myself, may I suggest you turn your attention to some of the new cigars on the market and currently available from The DCE in Dublin, especially the Don Antonio premium long filler Dominican brand which comes in three tubed sizes: the Churchill, the Lonsdale, and, my absolute favourite, the delightfully smooth and  more-ish Don Antonio Robusto.

And the great thing is, it doesn't need batteries.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Blooming Good Edmundos

Hi Folks,

Just in the middle my weekly rummage through the humidor (indulging in my tobacco sniffing fetish) and have come across some amazing looking Montecristo Edmundos.

There are a couple of boxes in dated 2011 factory code TAU NOV 11. Nice oily wrappers already showing signs of bloom/plume (see above). The aroma is slightly tannic. In my opinion although ready to smoke now these boxes are perfect for setting aside and ageing in your humidor.

And stashed in the back a box of from 2009. The Edmundo being a popular cigar in our store it is surprising enough to come across boxes with any age. Factory code MUA MAR 09. The aroma is wheaty and the wrappers are smooth with a silky sheen with a slight dusting of bloom/plume. 

Going for a smoke tonight, I've worked hard this week (seriously!) I think I deserve one of these.

Happy Smokin'

Paul "Your friendly neighbourhood cigar pusher" Murphy

Friday, 11 January 2013

Where angels fear to read
by James Leavey
The other day I made the mistake of going hunting for some rolling nicotine for The Creature Who Must Be Obeyed  a.k.a. the beloved wife, in a British supermarket instead of my usual specialist tobacco shop in Dublin.
 That'll teach me.
 Stepped up to the counter where an indifferent young female sales twit was yawning in front of an anonymous shuttered cupboard that resembled something out of an Ann Summers sex shop.
 'Do you sell tobacco?' I bellowed, in an attempt at waking the twit to do what presumably she was being paid for.
 She barely glanced at me. 'That's for me to know,' she muttered, 'and you to find out.'
 'Don't strain your tiny brain on my account,' I replied.  'I'm only one of those rare customers standing here with folding money and not the usual plastic you're used to.  I could easily spend it elsewhere.
 'Now, open your beady eyes, switch on what's left of your demented grey matter and read my fucking lips: what exactly do you have on sale?'
 Disgruntled, and desperate to get back to her slumbers, the twit looked at the ceiling and the long queue of patient smokers behind me, some of whom were losing the will to live, and said, languidly pointing to a wall 10 feet away, 'There's a list over there.'
 I crashed my empty shopping basket (I'd only picked it up out of habit) on the counter in front of her and said, 'Don't even think about the next customer. As if. I'll be right back.'
 Then I strolled to the wall, where, hanging with the aid of a bit of Blue tack was an A5 sheet of white paper listing various types of tobacco, in no particular order, printed in 2 point Times New Roman italics.
 I then strolled, at a snail's pace, back to the front of the queue, ignoring the stares and muttering.
 'I can't read that bloody list for I haven't got me reading glasses or a microscope.  Please read it for me, if you can.'
 The twit smiled and snarled, 'Not allowed to.  That's the law.'
 'Well, that's fine,' I responded, resting my arms on the counter and spotlighting her deliberate indifference with a full hard stare that would melt the bollocks off a donkey.
 'Then you can call the manager and get him – or God Help Us – another useless object  like you, you apathetic unhelpful mooning gobshite – to read it nice and slowly for me.  And when we're through, and only then, you can do the same for all the poor sods behind me who have had enough of your fucking rudeness.
 'And don't be in a hurry.  I've got all day.'

Friday, 7 December 2012

A Smokey Pokey Christmas
by James Leavey

There we were, Guy Hancock and I, hanging the Havanas on the Christmas tree in the speakeasie that nobody can tell you where without our killing them, somewhere in the heart of Dublin.

'Jaysus, James,' said our man from the DCE, 'watch where you're putting those Double Coronas...they're supposed to be hanging from the lower branches so we can stick the Petit Coronas at the top.'

'Guy, that lethal DCE Yuletide punch must be getting to you,' I barked back.  'Tell you what, let's smoke a couple of these fuckers and start again.'

'Fair play, Seamus, you mad bugger,' responded Dublin's unofficial Tobacco Ambassador to and from Cuba. 'Now what the fuck did we do with the cutters and lighters?'

'Bloody hell, we've wrapped them up and they're somewhere in that enormous pile of presents under the soddin' tree.'

'Ah, God help us and save us, we'll be here until the New Year before we can light up for Christmas!'

'How about we get some of that The Wild Geese Irish liquid gold down us, before we start again, Guy?'

'All four?'

'Is the Pope a Catholic...'

Pop went the corks, glug glug glug glug went the four whiskies - into the waiting virgin glasses.

'Slainte, Seamus.'

'Ditto, Guy, and may your cigars never need relighting...Hold on, what's this I've sat on?  A plastic anti-smoking fairy from ASH... It must be some non-smoking fuckers' idea of a joke!'

'Where do you want it, Seamus, my man,' said the Guy, who had already drained all four glasses and was looking happy and seasonal if a trifle unsteady.

'I think we should shove the Christmas tree right up its arse, Guy.'

'With, or without, the KY?'

'Oh, I think this cheap plastic representation of the ignorant blinkered pompous bullying over-exaggerating little shits who have given such a hard time to all of our cigar comrades – and us - should get the full seasonal experience.   What a shame the twat who designed it isn't here to join in the fun.

'Now, as the Aussie foreplay expert would say: “Bend over and brace yourself, Sheila”...'

'And a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all, especially all our fellow cigar lovers,' said Guy, somewhat muffled.

'Ditto, Guy.  Guy? Guy? Where are you?'

'Under the presents, under the tree.  I've found the hic! cutters...'

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The ins and outs of smoking

Lighten Up with James Leavey  Column/blog no.7

The ins and outs of smoking
by James Leavey

I was sharing an ashtray in one of Dublin’s many smoke easies with a Dubliner cigar comrade the other day and happened to mention a Dutch lesbian lorry driver I used to know, one Muffy van Dyke.  And what a one. And what a pair too.

And I said how we used to joke about a virgin boy skater named Hans Brinker who saved Holland by climbing onto a dike and slipping his finger in its hole.

“He'd have had to do a lot more to get me going,” said Muffy. “For a start he'd have needed a tongue like an ant-eater.”

“I'm sorry to shatter your erotic dreams,” I told her, “but Brinker is a fictional character.  Still, you could always ask Amsterdam zoo if they'll lend you their resident worm-tongue for a night of debauchery.”

“Bejaysus, Seamus, you awful man,” said the Dubliner, a fellow dedicated nicotine companion who, like me was at that wonderful moment in time enjoying an Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva Churchill, which would awaken the dead at the end of the world, but very nicely, “how did you ever get to know her?”

“We worked together in a London pub, years ago,” I replied, after taking a long puff on my excellent medium to full bodied Nicaraguan stick of premium tobacco, “and we both shared the view that we wouldn't throw a beautiful woman out of bed.  It didn't stop us sleeping together, of course.”

“Did she smoke, Seamus?”

“Only afterwards.”

After a few more similar pleasantries, the Dubliner and I moved on to the subject of the most unusual place either of us had ever lit up in.

The Dubliner admitted to enjoying a Hoyo on the roof of a hospital.  “And you?” he asked.

“Well, there's a bit of a list to choose from...maybe if I just narrow it down to Dublin...?”

“That's a good start,” said the Dubliner. “But then Dublin always is.”

“OK then.  A few years ago the BBC encouraged me to smoke cigars in all sorts of places in Ireland's fair city, including on the Abbey Theatre stage and in a cell in Dublin's main prison.”


“No, really.  The cameraman and myself first had tea and biscuits with the prison governor, in his office, after which he took us to an empty cell and unlocked it.

“I looked inside and noticed it was the secure, temporary - one hopes, home of a young male prisoner, judging by the photos of his wife and children on the wall.  But what kind of disturbed me was the lack of an ashtray, suggesting he was a non-smoker. Plus, he couldn't open the window to let the smoke escape, what with the bars and usual security. And I didn't want to cause the poor man any more grief, not even from my second-hand smoke, than he was already getting doing his porridge. So I told the governor I wasn't sure it was the best cell for me as there was a lack of an ashtray.”

“What happened next?”

“The governor sent off a guard to fetch a suitable receptacle for my ashes and handed it over.  As our visiting time was running short I agreed to go in, sit on the prisoner's bed, and ignite the Montecristo No.2 that I just happened to have with me.”

“Did you also happen to have a cutter, some matches and/or a lighter?”

“Is the Pope a Catholic?  So I lit the Havana and took a few puffs for the camera.  Said my bit. Took another puff.  And we were out of there and away, unlike the poor sod whose cell I had temporarily invaded while he was exercising in the yard with the other prisoners.”

“Did you really feel bad about smoking in that man's cell, Seamus?”

“Oddly enough, in the end I didn't.  For I left him a partly smoked revered Havana that would be worth a small fortune in any prison – where an ounce of bog-standard rolling tobacco a.k.a. snout greases many palms.”

“Thanks be to jaysus you weren't smoking a Hamlet,” cried the Dubliner, wiping his eyes at the very thought of such a sad act.

“There are some lines I will never cross,” I growled. “I would never stoop that low.”

Monday, 15 October 2012

When a good cigar is ready to smoke by James Leavey

If you're a cigar smoker and desperate for a communal public drink in Dublin, look for a bar, hotel, cafĂ©, or restaurant with a partly covered outdoor smoking area.  Or one with a deep doorway, in which you can crouch and gargle while you smoke in the rain.

God help us and save us,  doesn't that sound dreadful!  I wouldn't put my cats out in the wet and dismal weather Ireland's smokers are bullied to light up in.

Thankfully, even Ireland gets its share of sun.  But still...

Fortunately, there's a third and better way. 

Nip into the Decent Cigar Emporium, flash your credentials (cigar/s and/or empty cigar case, cutter, lighter/matches). 

And be prepared to step up for the ritual and password in which you prove you are a dedicated nicotine companion:

'Hands on humidor, hands on heart, I prefer the smell of a fine cigar to a twat non-smoker's fart.'

All being well and ship-shape the boys will welcome you with open ashtrays.  And pass on The Knowledge of where to smoke in Dublin without being rudely interrupted by ignorant eejits.

So there you are, happy as Larry (they named a brand of cigarettes after him – Olivier) and dropping ash with friends. When your cigar has reached the end of its warm and wonderful life you may be considering which one to try next.

Yes, I know you already have your favourites.

The thing is, which cigars have ripened for your immediate delectation, and which are better for investing and storing and ageing?

For fine, hand-rolled tubes of premium tobacco are rather like the finest wines, which improve with age and are best sipped at the height of their power.

Just don't ask me for detailed advice, for I don't live with all the cigars available. 

But the boys at The DCE do, especially Mr Guy Hancock.  They have been taking very good care of their nicotine babies and can give you all the know-how you need to lead you to a very pleasant smoke indeed.

There are also other places you can fall back on, when the DCE is closed for the night: Ireland's prisons (which are still smoker-friendly), lunatic asylums (whatever the politically-correct anal retentives call them, these days), monasteries (is that really incense they're waving in the censer?) and hotel rooms designated for smokers.

The first option requires getting arrested.  This is very easy, just try lighting up inside a health shop.

The second requires proof of madness, such as deciding after all those years to give up smoking.

The third is really down to an act of faith.

And the fourth is sometimes hard to come by but well worth pursuing.  For, like the other three options I suggested, the law allows you to smoke in your own home or its equivalent. 

And in the privacy of your hotel room or suite you can throw a part, orgy or hoolie for your cigar companions. Just as long as you open the window and don't set fire to the bed.