Julian George ~ This is a pipe

Maigret smiled around his pipe. — Simenon

A great many men
Many of them great
In word and deed, in flesh and fantasy
Were pipe smokers;
These men
Favoured the noble pipe to the shab­by gasper
A trusty Briarwood to the shifty cigar;
Many great men
Men of distinction
Of stand­ing, or stand­ing up (with­out falling down)
Of bear­ing and tailoring
Men with grey at the tem­ples, com­pos men­tis, concupiscent
Sound sleep­ers, day­dream­ers, pipe-dreamers
Sherlock Holmes
Jean-Paul Sartre
Joseph Stalin
Took pains to pre­pare a pipe instead of fid­dling around with cellophane

(Actually, now that I remem­ber it, Uncle Joe smoked cig­gies like so many dead souls between bowls of his favourite shag, but then genius makes its own rules)

My wife says to me
‘My father smoked a pipe’;
Women always say that with a demure sense of approval,
Così fan tutte,
Not least my wife,
Who hat­ed her father and could be a par­ri­cide for all I know, we’ve nev­er sat down and had a prop­er chat about her past, or I wasn’t lis­ten­ing, that and I nev­er met the din­gus (I’m going by what she doesn’t say, which says it all);
Maybe he joined the French Foreign Legion

Women nev­er say this stuff about a beau
A back­door man
A lover man,
A roustabout or a stud;
It’s always some tweedy old bore,
A bow-tied, but­ton­holed fraud;
Here, come sit on my knee

A pipe does lend a cer­tain grav­i­tas, even to the queer­est of coves
It can turn shit into Shinola, lead into gold
Just ask Sherlock
Or Uncle Joe


Julian George’s writ­ing has appeared in Postbox, New World Writing, Slag Glass City, McSweeney’s, Panoplyzine, Ambit, The Journal of Music, Film Comment, Cineaste, The London Magazine and Salon. He’s been in the wine trade, trans­lat­ed and inter­pret­ed at the UN, flogged upmar­ket junk at an auc­tion house and was, ever so briefly, the cer­e­mo­ni­al pres­i­dent of a postage stamp coun­try. He is work­ing on a novel.