‘Tom Collins’ aka Joseph Furphy

I’ve just finished reading Such is Life by Tom Collins and will have much to say about it – I had no idea that the great Australian novel had been written over 100 years ago, with everything since a footnote . But for now I just had to share this description of a pipe on the perhaps flimsiest pretext ever – that it is just SO GOOD. Actually, here’s a pretext of greater durability – this is, I believe, not just the best description of a pipe ever, but possibly the best description of ANYTHING ever. Over to Tom Collins…

“The pipe has already been referred to in these annals. It was probably the most artistic, the most opulent-looking, the most scholarly, the most imposing and, from a Darwinian point of view, the most highly specialised, meerschaum ever seen on earth. It was a pipe such as no smoker parts with during life, but bequeaths to his best-beloved son – a pipe that would make any man wish to have a Benjamin, but for the fear that the heir-presumptive might be exposed to unfair temptation, and the old man himself to grave peril.

This non-pareil lies before me now, on an old, cracked dinner plate, with my knife and tobacco. Its head, ideally perfect as that goddess who rose from similar material, carries, in spite of its vast size, no suggestion of the colossal, but rather of the majestic. Its aspect would be overpowering but for the soothing and reassuring effect of colour – as where, at the point of contact, the opaque snow of the upper half, with cirrhus-like edge, overlies rather than meets the indescribable wealth of lucent and fathomless umber, which soul-satisfying colour intensifies toward the rounded heel, softening to a paler tint in its serene re-ascent, till the meerschaum terminates in a heavy, cylindrical collar, of almost audacious simplicity. Then a thick, flexible, silk-chequered stem takes up the wondrous tale, in its turn extending, with a most magnanimous restraint, barely four inches ere transferring its glories to the worthy keeping of such a piece of Baltic amber as you shall not match in any democratic community. The slight silver mounting hints at a princely concession to the great pipe family; and two little red crackers, depending from the junction of mouthpiece and stem, whilst giving no encouragement to presumptuous rivalry, soften the austere, unapproachable, super-Phidian perfection of the whole ongsomble.”

How good is that?! I’ll go now.