Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke
Where there’s smoke there’s
fire. With so many people giving up the dreaded
smoking habit I was intrigued by a gentleman who
visited our house last weekend.
He smokes a pipe. Well, I assume he smokes it.
He seems to spend more time unplugging his dottle.
I just queried “dottle” in my Macquarie
Dictionary – the dictionary my pupils were
advised to use in the 90s – and the word
was nowhere to be found. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary
of 1970 vintage was more forthcoming. A “dottle
– a plug of tobacco left unsmoked in a pipe:
1825”. The origin of the word is dated 1440.
Now the gentleman in question has caused some
havoc with his dottle. Once, while stopped at
lights in the city, he decided to empty his dottle
out of the car window. He gave his beloved pipe
a couple of sharp taps on the side of his car.
Horror of horrors the whole bowl of the pipe parted
from the stem and rolled into the gutter. The
lights changed to green.
Most unperturbed, our pipe-smoking friend, opened
his car door and retrieved his “bowl”
from the gutter. You can imagine how many car
horns let him know “they were not amused”.
On another occasion this tobacco-loving man tried
to remove his dottle by banging his pipe on the
inside of the car door. Unhappily the dottle was
still sporting live embers and the inside upholstery
of the car door received a regular old singe.
If you’ve ever had a pipe-smoking visitor
you will most likely find traces of dottle in
the most unexpected places. And your supply of
matches will very quickly disappear with the constant
relighting of the dottle.
Which reminds me of the time Mr Pollyanna was
an avid smoker of cigarettes. We’d packed
the five kids and baggage and were off on our
annual holiday to the beach.
Along the track I sniffed a suspicious burning
smell, which appeared to emanate from the back
seat area of the car. Himself stopped the car,
and opened the rear door to investigate.
“Nothing burning that I can see,”
But as he bent down to inspect more closely,
I spotted a cigarette butt (which Himself must
have thrown out of the window), quietly smouldering
its way through his hair.
The kids thought it a great joke, but their Dad
did not see the humour of the situation at all.
These days, Dad has dispensed with cigarettes
and wild, wild women, but is still partial to
his wee dram of whisky.
And I suspect Pollyanna is happy he’s chosen
the bottle and not the dottle.