Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pipes and traction engines

click photo to enlarge
I couldn't have been more pleased when the legislation forbidding smoking in public buildings came into effect in the UK. My only regret was that it didn't extend to outdoor public spaces, so in common with other non-smokers, I have to endure second-hand smoke when I walk down the street, sit in a pub garden or run the gauntlet at the door of a building where smokers who work inside are gathered, getting their regular fix of nicotine.

At the time the laws came into force some argued that smoking was in decline and consequently we should let it take its natural course without any legal proscription. That always seemed a weak argument to me, with one exception: pipe smokers. A few eccentric youths excepted, pipe smoking is an old man's habit, and is the pleasure of visibly fewer with each passing year. When I was younger the pungent smell of a pipe was common, and smoking one seemed to involve rites and mysteries. People argued over the type of wood that was best, whether upstart plastic had a place, how to pack the bowl and ignite it and much else too. There even seemed to be penknives equipped with tools suitable for maintaining the wretched things. Today pipe smokers are a mercifully rare sight.

I came across the man in today's photograph sitting atop a steam engine that was powering an old fashioned threshing machine at a Lincolnshire country fair. The pipe didn't seem out of place in this context, nor did the deer-stalker hat and overalls. And as far as the pong from the pipe goes, it was inconsequential to the point of invisibility when measured against the smell from the funnel of his steam engine!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 135mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On