Put that out and have a decent fag

Two-minute story

Put that out and have a decent fag

You could still smoke on the buses then, upstairs. On my way home from school I would sit towards the front and light up my pipe. With a bit of luck there would be a cry of complaint from behind, usually from an old pensioner. Sometimes I apologised, for I had discovered herbal smoking mixture. We could buy it at a health food shop for a fraction of the price of tobacco. Our scout leaders encouraged us then to smoke pipes rather than cigarettes; it was healthier they said, and more manly.

It did have a distinctive smell. It came in a container about the size of a small cereal box, and looked like the dried up contents of a garden re-cycling bin: grass, leaves, pieces of moss and chopped up plant stems. The man two seats behind didn’t like it.

“What’ve you got in there, horse shit?”

I said nothing, but turned to acknowledge the man then turned back and released another cloud. It rarely took long.

“Here, put that out and have a decent fag.”

“You sure?”

“Go on – anything’s better than sitting here with you smoking that rubbish.”
And the man would slide his hand into a pocket and from it would emerge a packet of Players or Senior Service, then top of the range brands. I would turn again to thank the man then sit back and light up.

They seemed so relieved, pleased that they had persuaded me to put out my pipe.

Did they ever realise that they were doing me a favour too, that a decent fag was what I had been after all along?

List the steps that this schoolboy takes to get an expensive cigarette.

Do you think that the old men who handed over these expensive cigarettes ever thought they were doing this schoolboy a favour? Why?

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