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.
23 hours ago