Boring Personal Experiences  of Snuff
(see personal pictures)
        In 1943, as a 16-yr old Cardiff Library assistant, I wondered what snuff -- referred to by Dickens  etc. -- could possibly be.  I saw a little tin of S.P. snuff in a tobacconist's window, bought it and tried it.
    About a week later it had all gone, and I found myself most uncomfortable without it.  I had addicted myself.
      So I bought more, and a few weeks later a De La Salle brother from my old prep school came into the library, saw me taking snuff, and offered me a pinch of his.  A revelation!  It was Irish High Dry Toast.
      A little old lady in a corner shop near St. John's Church used to sell me High Dry Toast in quarter ounces, put into little triangular paper packets: all I could afford on my wages of 16 shillings (= 80p.) a week.
      I spent many happy hours taking Irish High Dry Toast from my (quite inadequate) snuff tin, while doing wartime fire-watching all night and dipping into the rich resources of the library's pornography.
     A bit later I took to cigarettes.  As a member of the Young Communist League (YCL), I was one of  a number sternly bidden (we presumed on the orders of the genial Uncle Joe) to infiltrate and take over the local branch of the British Federation of Young Co-operators (BFYC).  The proceedings at the latter were designed to provide a jolly time for youths, and that was so hideously boring that I had to accept cigarettes when I had run out of snuff in order to keep sane.  So I was stuck on smoking when our ruse was discovered and all we YCL comrades were expelled by the BFYC.
     After a year at University, I was called up and found myself in Palestine  -- Eretz Israel.  To my delight I found a tobacconist in Haifa who sold tins of snuff, the lid embossed with a representation of a Rabbi taking a pinch  (apparently it is the done thing to take snuff in the synagogue).                                                                                              
    So I was a snuffer again, demobbed in 1948 -- after 3 delightful years in the sun, being in military intelligence able to go wherever I liked, which was mainly among the haverim at Kvutzat Maayan and in the wine cellars of Zikron Yaakov --   able to afford only snuff as an impecunious undergraduate.  Going on to Oxford in 1951 I was delighted to find Fribourg and Treyer's  fine snuff shop at 130 High Street.
    I offered my supervisor a pinch of snuff, but he looked puzzled and said "Surely, only after dinner?"   Years later I discovered,  having moved up the academic ladder, that after dinner the snuff box is passed round like the port in Oxford's Colleges' Senior Common Rooms.
    As a young lecturer teaching a logic class at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, one of my students was astonished to see me take snuff -- astonished,  because he was a Nigerian who thought snuff taking was peculiar only to his tribe.  He told me that in his tribe only men (after a puberty ritual) were allowed to take snuff, women and children being allowed only cigarettes.  He brought in his snuff, in a large medicine bottle.  It was quite good (rather like Fribourg and Treyer's Etrenne).
    I opened an account with Fribourg and Treyer: the disappearance of that institution was a traumatic experience, leading to my intermittently falling back on cigarettes.
   But I am now firmly settled on snuff taking and hope and pray that Wilsons (Sharrow) will survive the rest of my dotage.

 
 
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