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Monday, 16 June 2014

42. A personal anecdote from George

This is not so much a memory of Lancing but rather one of my own growing up experiences. I' 'll leave it to you.

Just after the second world war there was a shortage of Virginian tobacco, I was only 12/13 years old and I have no idea why. Turkish and Egyptian blends were available and filter tips were becoming popular. The Turkish and Egyptian tobaccos were not to the taste of people brought up on "Weights,Woodbines, Park Drive and Rhodian No 3 with Players and Senior Service for high days and holidays . Some men tried to grow their own, my father included. As the start of a DIY process growing plants was easy. The process of curing etc proved too much for the average handyman in his shed, so the whole idea died a death.
As young lads we had no idea of blends flavours and the like, all we knew was that it was tobacco. adults smoked it, we wanted to be adult, so we wanted to smoke. There was the problem. The four of us pooled our resources. We realised a box of matches, a packet of cigarette papers and a machine to roll your own, BUT no tobacco.We discussed this and as an upshot we divided into pairs , a pair on each side of the road, and headed towards Lancing Manor Ground , "doing the gutters" looking for dog ends. Thinking about it now makes me shudder, we were not aware of the dangers to our health, no one was, so we carried on collecting the dog ends and putting them in our pockets. Arriving at the Manor we went up into the top left hand corner, it was quiet and we could see if any body was coming our way. A rather grubby handkerchief appeared and our spoils were placed on the said piece of rag. we began peeling the paper from the tobacco. One of us came across a stained filter, queried it, but we decide unanimously that it must be that new Turkish tobacco and it and any further filters were added to the growing pile of tobacco. More shudders from me. after a while with a little practice it was possible to produce passable cigarettes and we began smoking. We lay back on the grass feeling just like film stars did it in the films, coughing a bit, not surprising really when you consider that were smoking filter tips and all the other rubbish. Even bigger shudders from me.. A second and third cigarette was produced and smoked, we were getting good at coughing, we were certainly getting practice. By this time we were all feeling a little queasy, none of us wanted to give in so it was bit of relief when we saw someone coming our way and we managed to escape without losing face. I don't think any of us wanted to smoke for quite a while after that. More shudders.