From the Sussex County Magazine January 1931
Old Tom’s Cigar
By Frank Watts
At Christmas a very kind but singularly unobservant friend sent me a box of cigars. I tried one or two, but the only satisfaction I obtained was that my pipe tasted sweeter after the change. To impose the test of a good cigar – which lays down that a cigar is only good if you like it – I offered one to "Old Tom" when I visited him at his lonely "lookers" hut on the marshes.
"Thanks – I prefer my pipe," he said shortly.
This did not suit my purpose at all.
"One should never bite the end off a cigar," I remarked; "if cigar cutters are not available a sharp knife should be used."
"That’s news!" he grunted.
"Yes, and the ash should not be knocked off – let it fall of its own accord or the bouquet will be ruined. Another point, don’t put a light to it before drawing; the best cigars ever manufactured will taste stale if this is done."
"Seems a lot to know before smoking the things," he remarked drily.
"I agree with you, Tom, but, of course, anyone can smoke a cigar – or a whole box of them – and not get real pleasure from the tobacco if these important points are overlooked. Those hints are by no means all there is to know about a cigar.
A relighted cigar never regains its original flavour; a second light up means a poor smoke – those who can afford it always throw away a smoke that has been allowed to go out, rather than insult a cultivated palate just for the sake of half a cigar."
"If I had to smoke them myself," he remarked, "I should have to go to a night school to learn how."
"Well, try this one – just for the experience," I urged.
Taking it between his gnarled old fingers he turned it round thoughtfully.
"There is one more thing I had almost forgotten," I exclaimed, "never hold it tightly or the outer leaf may crack and give an uneven smoke."
"I think I can remember most of the advice," he said, cutting it up and filling his pipe.