Do they smoke in heaven?

Sir David Tang offers his idiosyncratic advice to readers

I once saw you in New York outside Harry Cipriani at the Sherry-Netherland smoking a good cigar. Has anyone ever criticised your smoking outside? I would like to know how you would handle annoying comments about cigar smoke, even if you are on the street, beach or in a park?

I am constantly reprimanded for smoking a cigar even in the street in America. It’s easier to commit murder there, particularly in California. A woman once collapsed her fat shadow on me at Malibu Beach, where I was minding my own business enjoying a small corona. Squinting at her substantial penumbra, I heard this piercing bark from her: “Do you mind putting out that ceegar?” I lost my cool and asked her, “Yes, madam; in which of your eyes?” I could have been ruder. It’s a sad world that we cigar smokers are now treated like pariahs. I remember when Concorde first flew, we were offered and allowed to smoke cigars in the second cabin. How the civilised world has regressed. I agree with Mark Twain who said, “If there are no cigars in Heaven, I shall not go.”

May I notice a minor inconsistency in a previous column. Palladian houses are in the northern part of Italy, mainly in Veneto, where cipresses around houses are far south, in the countryside of Florence and Sienna.

Pedantry, when cloaked in ignorance, is irritating. The Cupressus sempervirens, the proper name for the Italian cypress, which is spelt with a “y” in English, was actually first brought to the whole of northern Italy by the Etruscans. The famous Villa Cipressi, with its eponymous garden, is perched above Lake Como. So your implicit observation that cypresses are only found in Tuscany is simply wrong. Indeed, I have got cypresses in my own little garden in my house in London, a stone’s throw from Peter Jones in Sloane Square. Tuscany my foot!

As a consultant who travels frequently for business, my clients recommend hotels that are near their offices and which meet their budgets. The hotels provide the basics but they do not compensate for the rigours of the road and their airstrip isolation can preclude the benefits of networking in town. Is it poor form to bill clients for the rate from the hotel they recommended, and pay the difference for a better one out of my pocket to stay at the hotel of my choice?

If your clients regard their choice of accommodation good enough for you, then that is the measure of your “grade”. Therefore, if you think you deserve better, then either your clients underestimate your value or you yourself overestimate your own. Either of these suggests that you should not try to upgrade your assigned accommodation. Much better for you to work harder and become cleverer so that your clients would become unequivocally dependent on you and put you in a hotel of your choice. Your status is worth much more when it is recognised by people who pay you commensurate with what you do.

I was first drawn to your column on a lazy Saturday morning by the yellow hat. I am in the US, and let me tell you, there is nothing like it here! I find it utterly amusing! Please tell me you also take editorial licence with the questions!

I have of course heard of the insularity of the Americans, and I am glad that the House & Home section of the Financial Times is able to spread a modicum of amusement over that nation. My yellow hat and shades were specifically chosen as the Chinese imperial colour with which to arrest readers’ attention, and therefore you have proved the editors right. I don’t edit the questions that are sent in unless they are too long or syntactically or semantically incorrect. People are entitled to their opinions but only if they articulate them properly!

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