Monday, 28 May 2012

Cig Lit.

I've been away for so long Blogger have gone and changed the format for writing posts. Anyway, grovelling apologies for such a prolonged absence. Much is happening in Unmitigated England, but amongst many good things is that today a friend appeared clutching The Cigarette Papers in his hand. "Sign this" he said. It wasn't supposed to be out until early June, but here it is. If there's anyone still out there reading this, you'll remember that this book has been in gestation for at least five years. It's my eulogy for the cigarette packet, when they were beautifully executed pieces of design and without hectoring government notices and lurid photographs plastered all over them. It's full of still life photographs and galleries of packs and cigarette cards, accompanied by my stories, anecdotes and extracts from literature- Gauloises being lit up by Len Deighton's nameless hero, that sort of thing.

I've had such fun putting it together: having ideas, choosing locations, discovering sentences in odd places like a Gold Flake packet appearing in John Cowper Powys' A Glastonbury Romance. An evening at a workbench in an isolated Northamptonshire shed, an afternoon amongst roadside dandelions, and a memorable morning on a Cumbrian beach waiting for the sun, whilst my glamorous assistant impatiently stood by waiting to ripple a rock pool with a stick. A really big thankyou to all of you who helped. I enjoyed it all immensely, I hope you will too. 

17 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

Marvellous. I am off to Amazon now. May your assistants always be glamorous.

Peter Ashley said...

Phil: All my assistants are glamorous (and always of the fairer sex). Out in the fields of Unmitigated England you don't want to be stuck with a pipe-smoking old git in tweeds when the thunder storm breaks and shelter has to sought in a hay barn.

Lemon Kelly said...

Good to hear from you Peter after such extended AWOL; I was getting worried. This new volume seems right up my street, I'm sparking up a Gitanes as I order!

Lemon Kelly said...

Good to hear from you Peter after such extended AWOL; I was getting worried. This new volume seems right up my street, I'm sparking up a Gitanes as I order!

Jon Dudley said...

"A man at sea will often hanker for the flavour of an Anchor - so much satisfaction"...thus went the old ad campaign for Anchor cigs...to the tune of "What shall we do with a drunken sailor?" - Packets, ads, ephemera, all soon to be lost...thank goodness you've come to the rescue.

Peter Ashley said...

Phil, Lemon, Jon, thankyou. Trouble is Jon, that tune is now going to be impossible not to whistle as I shortly return into the folds of Leicestershire.

Hels said...

Hope you become very rich and famous!

What was the initial impetus for the book?

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Hels. The impetus was very straight forward. I've had a reasonable collection of old packets for nearly forty years, and decided to make a book about them over five years ago. It is entirely accidental that its launch coincides with the government's current mass hysteria over cigarette packaging. My timing appears to be spot on for once.

Stephen Barker said...

Peter, welcome back, I will be down to Quinns to order my copy if it is not already in stock

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Stephen. It's a pity we don't have tobacconists anymore; I could get them stacked up in there.

Sue said...

Good to see you back, and hope The Cigarette Papers sells like a stack of Rizlas coated with sugar n' weedkiller - or something!

Peter Ashley said...

Thanks Sue. Here I must confess that the book's title was given to me by Ron Combo, after I'd thought that Cig Lit, was too obscure, resulting in a frantic 'phone call to his Piedmont fastness.

Wartime Housewife said...

About bloody time. Where's my copy?

Wartime Housewife said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ron Combo said...

Have ordered mine from those Amazonian ladies.

Stephen Barker said...

Peter, picked up my copy on Saturday, Beverly in Quinns sent the first copy back as there were marks on the cover. I enjoyed the book very much and reccomend it to anyone who has not yet purchased a copy, as you say it does,ntmatter whether you have or have not smoked some of the packets and beautiful objects in their own right.

jjking said...

Just bought it, superb. Great companion piece to Chris Mullen's book.
Must also say how much I enjoyed the Unmitigated England books, the range of topics would have made John Betjiman proud.
Going on to Amazon to get Cross Country now.
Can we have one on condiments? I seem to remember chop sauce bottles being fairly common on cafe tables.
PS Love the blog.