Elderly Woman Smoker – September 1924

It was in the stone-flagged hall of the old Tudor House at Wembley that I nearly collided with a young man hastening in the opposite direction to myself with a lighted match in his hand.

We both dodged to left and right three or four times in the attempt to get past each other, he evidently flurried lest his match should go out before it accomplished its task, whatever that might be. I turned to look as soon as he successfully got round my flank, and was surprised to see him hold the match, now nearly burned to his fingers, to a cigarette held between the lips of an elderly woman, who might have been his mother or his aunt, or merely a friend of the party, for there were several of them.

As soon as the smoke issued from the woman’s lips, she smiled, and nodded sideways at me, and the man, laughing, held out to me his cigarette case in one hand and a matchbox in the other. But I shook my head with a returning smile and passed on, marvelling to myself that this was the first woman smoker I had seen in London during my stay there.

Nor did I see another until the day I was standing on Euston platform waiting for my return train to back in after the departure of the boat trains, when I observed a grey-haired lady who might be in her sixties stalking up and down with a cigarette in her mouth. No doubt it was helping her to endure the tedium of the wait.

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