Smoke Screens and Wild Women …
I was never all that much of a smoker during my adolescence. Like most teenagers though, I was heavily influenced by pop culture and advertising.
I saw an advert for Gauloises cigarettes in a French magazine called Paris Match.
It also frequently carried photographs of a beautiful French singer called Francoise Hardy.
Logic dictated that if I smoked French cigarettes, Francoise would get to hear about it and seek me out. It was certainly worth a try. Anyway, to cut a long story short, she lost her chance after a couple of packets.
I went through a phase of trying to roll my own cigarettes …
My friend Wilf could roll a cigarette with one hand. They were bloody works of art. He was a veritable magnet to wild women who liked to drink pints and beat you at arm-wrestling. On Wilfless days I had to resort to using a roll up machine. It wasn’t cool. I felt so ashamed.
What I needed was something a bit classy. This came in the form of Passing Clouds. These were elegant and sophisticated oval-shaped cigarettes which came in a glorious pink packet.
They cost 7/6 for 20. I was working weekends as a shelf stacker in Sainsburys at the time and only got paid £1 a day. So 7/6 was very expensive. But sophisticaltion came at a price and it came in the glorious form of Marilyn who worked on the cheese counter. She could do things with cheddar that would make your eyes water. She smoked Capstan full strength and had tattoos and a decidedly dodgy boyfriend called Malcolm who worked at a sheet metal factory. Marilyn and I were sitting at a table together in the staff canteen one day and I nonchalantly offered her a Passing Cloud. I remember her eyeing it suspiciously.
“Why’s it all squashed?”
I had to admit that I didn’t know. She stuck it behind her ear to smoke later and told me she was being promoted to the bacon counter. God, that girl had class.