In a puff of smoke.

Cigar boxes are objects of delight. The aesthetic pleasure has been dented by the ugly health warnings that are applied to them— or, as I should say, the health warnings that are applied to them in an ugly manner. Difficult now to regard the labels with unadulterated joy, although I have a collection of old ones in a frame somewhere. But nothing can replace the promise of the smell, cedarwood spiced with the unmentionable weed (I hardly dare risk offending the thought police by writing the non-word tobacco). Empty boxes, when I had them, were given to the children; an example of appalling parenting, because the naked nail with which boxes are invariably closed— Cuba still being in a state of primitive innocence as regards fastenings—is an obvious hazard.

Oh, joy! William, 19, opened one of them recently to find a whole layer of previously unsmoked Montecristo No 2s. They were 10 years old. Fortunately, the cupboard in which they’d been kept was damp enough to be a humidor. They emerged in perfect condition, improved—like so many things, I find these days—with age. They’ve now disappeared, in appreciative puffs of smoke, but I still have the Por Larrañagas that I was given at Christmas left to savour. Now, where did I put the box?