Old junkies and young

John Boult and a young Francis Sedgemore, Exeter, 1966

The blogging Zionist cartoon character Snoopy the Goon has given us an affectionate obituary of Winnie Langley, a smoker of this parish who recently inhaled her last, just a week short of her 103rd birthday.

RIP Winnie Langley (1907–2010).

My maternal grandfather John Boult may not have made it as far as 103 years minus a week, but he had a good innings, all things considered, and smoked like a trooper through virtually all of it. I appear to possess not a single photograph of Granddad John without a lit tab in his hand.

The picture to the right is of Granddad and me out for the afternoon in the summer of 1966, poisoning pigeons in the park. See how lean my Granddaddy was? That’s nicotine for you. Now contrast that elegant thinness with the chubby-chops sitting on the bench, stuffing himself with cake.

On the day of his funeral I put a pack of Bensons into the breast pocket of Granddad John’s suit as he lay in his coffin, waiting for the undertakers to haul him out to the hearse for his final journey … to the crematorium. The other packs of ciggies Granddad left behind I kept for myself. That was three years before I quit smoking, and for me it’s been all downhill since then.

RIP John Boult (1917–1999).