James Leavey's Sharing An Ashtray With... Trevor Baylis

Trevor Baylis

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James Leavey's Corner
  By James Leavey

The British inventorof the clockwork radio, lights up. If only he would invent something that would knock some sense, and a little tolerance, intothe thick skulls of vehement anti-smokers...

JL: Where did you startsmoking"

TB: Well, I guess Istarted by way of an affectation when I was about 17.  I worked in alaboratory, my first job, and it was the first time I had a chanceof getting a bit of an education by attending day release at thelocal tech.  I used to smoke a pipe because it made you look verycerebral -  I was going through that funny stage, which stayedthrough me for the rest of my life  Then I went in to the army anddid my national service as a physical training instructor.  I hadalready been swimming for Britain before that and that’s how Ibecame a PTI.   The beauty was I could smoke a smoke whilst on dutywhereas others couldn’t smoke their cigarettes.   Basically I foundthe pipe had a remarkable influence on my life. After I did mymilitary service I became a stunt man, mainly for TV.  But I alsodid an underwater escape act in a Berlin circus.  What I used to dowas light my pipe up and simultaneously psyche myself up, saying, “Come on, you can do it, don’t be big girl’s blouse.” And then I’d domy fire dive. Afterwards, I’d get my pipe out and light it up andcongratulate myself, “ Cor! What a clever bastard you are.”  So apipe gave me the confidence to get applause, which I’d deserved.

JL: What do you smokenow"

TB: I’ve always smoked‘Condor’ long cut, but when I was doing my military service therewas a martial tobacco called ‘War Horse’, also made by Gallahers. Icouldn’t get hold of some ‘Condor’, at one time so I bought some‘War Horse’ and went to the campkinema to watch the programme. I started smoking this stuff and thenwhen it came to the national anthem, they all stood up, and I fellover.  It was too strong for me.  So then I came back to ‘Condor’and I’ve been on at for the rest of my life (Trevor is in his 60s). Now just think on this: I get through a box of Swan Vestas everyday, and every time I light my pipe I get a little bit of pleasure.The average contents in a box of Swan Vestas is 85 matches.  If youmultiply those matches by 365 days a year, forget leap years, times47 years, I’ve had 1.6 million little bits of pleasure denied to theother guy or girl.  And seeing as I have just walked 100 milesthrough the Namib Desert in temperatures of 46 degrees, you’llnotice that I’m not in iron lung.

JL: What do you say whensomeone asks you to put your pipe out"

TB: Well, I usually showa certain amount of respect but then if they have a habit I mightpick them up on their habit too.  

JL: Give me an example.  


TB: Somebody might fart.

JL: Who would you mostlike to share a smoke with"

TB: I guess it would bewith fellow inventors, chewing the fat. There’s an extraordinarycamaraderie between true inventors, because we all seem to bereferred to as being mad.  And there’s some truth in that.  Thetrouble is if you have a good idea you can’t go down the pub andtell them all about it because you’ll lose your idea.  And if youcan’t talk to anybody, who do you talk to"   Yourself.  That’s thefirst stage of madness.

JL: Is smoking cool"

TB: Smoking a pipe when Iwas a youngster definitely was trendy.  My attitude about my pipe isif someone’s got a problem with it, then it’s their problem, notmine.  My bank manager said to me, “Mr Baylis, I’m a bit worriedabout your overdraft.   I said , “I’m glad you are,  ‘cos there’s nopoint in us both worrying about it.”

JL: Do you smoke aftersex"

TB: I’ve never looked -the old gag.

JL: Ever set fire to abed"

TB: Yes, I guess I have.

JL: How many"

TB: Can’t remember howhot she was...

 JL:What is your favourite smoking moment"

 TB: I mustconfess there are very moments of the day that I’m not smoking mypipe.  It is a great thing for it keeps my mouth shut for a bit, andI do talk a lot.   I do thoroughly enjoy it.  Mind you, I can’t tellthe difference between vindaloo and vanilla

JL: Whose doorway wouldyou like most to smoke in"

TB: I’m trying to thinkof a gorgeous girl who has a doorway…  Marlene Dietrich, if she wasstill with us.  

JL: She’d probably joinyou, at least for the smoke.

TB: Yes, with her fishnetstockings straight round my neck.

JL: Have you ever thoughtof giving up smoking"

TB: I thought about it.  And then I got up.

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