Musty & Musky

I have no idea why this hit me this morning. Sometimes things just pop into your mind completely randomly. But I wondered about pipes. I mean the kind that men used to smoke, packed choc-full with rich tobacco. I imagine it was Condor, for “that Condor moment”.

As a kid, my Dad, my Uncle and my cousin (plus numerous extended friends and family members) would go to the football on a Saturday afternoon. In those days, before Sky, it was always a Saturday afternoon and depending upon who was playing at home we would either make the very short walk to Firhill to see Partick Thistle or jump the subway to go to Ibrox. Eventually, I ended up supporting Hamilton Accies, but my love affair with them started a couple of years later when I was old enough to go to games with my pals.

The thing that really sticks in my mind when I reminisce about those days of standing on decrepit terracing is not the football or the scarves tied around the wrist. It is the smell of pipe smoke. Invariably, there would always be at least one bloke standing nearby smoking a pipe and that smell would uplift you straight to heaven. It was gorgeous and whilst I get the whole case against tobacco, I really miss that smell.

That memory led me to recall another smell I really miss from the early 1970’s. The Glasgow Subway gets a bit of stick. It only covers a small part of the city and is effectively one line that goes round in a circle. There are two tracks, but don’t worry if you get on the wrong one. Sooner or later you will hit your destination.

It’s a mode of transport that I rarely use these days and when I do I’m invariably struck by how expensive it is, especially when it serves the part of the city that is heavily student populated.

But in the early 70’s it was a big part of my life. And the thing I remember most of all was the smell. It was musty and musky at the same time. An unforgettable aroma that I have never experienced since. It was totally unique and was probably created, at least in part, by pipe smoke.

I’d give anything just to have that olfactory sensation just one more time, for it to transport me back to a time of innocence and extended family and wonder.


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