Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We won't be Havana good time

Sadly, thanks to the fanatics in Parliament, the chances of a cigar club culture ever starting in the UK now looks to be zero. What a pity. We're a country that seems to have lost the art of having a good time.


We just ain’t Havana good enough time
Britain should turn to cigar clubs to restore a culture of pleasure, says Neil Clark

France has over 70, Switzerland has 20 and in Berlin there are two for women alone. Yet London, home to eight million people, has none.While anti-smoking campaigners will no doubt be rejoicing that Britain has missed out on the cigar club culture sweeping Europe and the US, there is, I believe, a good reason to hope that cigar clubs will eventually spring up here too.The point about these clubs is not so much the smoking, but their underlying philosophy. "Networking" and the exchange of business cards may sometimes play a part, but it is the spirit of epicureanism which predominates. Nowhere more so than at La Cape D'Epicure, a club for les amateurs de cigares, based in northern France. For La Cape D'Epicure, "the ideas of conviviality and of pleasure are paramount";Cigar clubs represent cultures that understand having a good time does not mean indulging in excessits members meet not only to smoke and compare notes on cigars, but to enjoy the pleasures of friendship, conversation and good food. Sadly, the spirit behind La Cape seems to be woefully lacking in modern Britain. Although Epicurus taught that "pleasure is the beginning and end of a happy life", he also emphasised moderation in all things, for the simple reason that excess leads to pain instead of pleasure. Anyone doubting how far Britain is away from the Greek philosopher's ideal only needs to spend a night out in any of our towns and cities. Binge drinking, and the manic shrieking and undercurrent of violence which usually accompanies it, are not the signs of a society that knows how to enjoy itself - quite the opposite. Cigar clubs, by contrast, represent cultures that still understand that having a good time does not mean indulging in excess but calmly savouring the things which really make us happy.

FIRST POSTED DECEMBER 19

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