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A Shout From The Attic: Pete West

...When smoked in our pipes, briar rejects bought from Woolworth’s for half a crown, it made a dense smoke cloud with a smell like a garden bonfire..

Ronnie Bray recalls his early smoking experiences with his friend Pete West. For more of Ronnie's entertaining reminisences click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

Read also his wonderful Letter From America columns.

Peter West and I called each other “Our'', doubtless a diminutive for “Our kid”, a brotherly term of endearment. I have no idea where the habit came from or when we started it. I cannot even remember when I first met Peter. It seemed as if he was always there. We attended different schools although we did not live very far apart, just far enough for us not to meet in normal circumstances.

We got on very well and smoked our first pipes full of twist together. That was in the queue outside the Grand Cinema on Manchester Road. We stood in the queue, lit up, drew in, and were promptly sick together in the gutter.

After the twist episode we turned to milder but less socially acceptable fuel, Potter’s Smoking Mixture, bought from Dodd’s the herbalist in Macaulay Street This was an herbal mixture containing, as far as we could tell, grass and various other seeds. If the mixture was made into cigarettes, the seeds fell into the mouth if you tipped your head back when smoking.

When smoked in our pipes, briar rejects bought from Woolworth’s for half a crown, it made a dense smoke cloud with a smell like a garden bonfire, which it was really, when the bowl was blown to make the smoke issue from the stem. That was an exercise we conducted inside the Grand. On that day, for the other patrons, it was not so grand!

I don’t remember meeting Peter for the first time, but I do recall that of my later childhood he was my constant companion and playing-out mate. We went everywhere together.

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