James Leavey's Corner
All I Want For Christmas Is A Fine Cigar

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by James Leavey, editor, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in London
and The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland

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James Leavey
Oscar Wilde, the noted smoker and wit, once said, "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances." His less imaginative Victorian contemporaries would have insisted that the only two articles of a man's clothing permitted to shine are his left shoe and his right shoe.Nowadays, a smart accessory, produced in the right circumstances, can be a good conversation opener - and a potent status symbol for the successful macho male manager or executive who dares to be different.

If you're one of those sad business bastards trying to stand out from the rest of the squabbling herd, all scrambling for success, read on.

Most accessories like watches, briefcases, cuff-links and tie-pins will, if you don't lose them, last much longer than many clothes.They're worth choosing carefully and investing to help you make it through this imaginary day…

7am Wakeup call.Quick shower and splash on the Calvin Klein unisex eau de toilette. Some chief executives believe that the only acceptable jewellery for a man is a wedding band and a wristwatch. I slip on my wrist an Omega Speedmaster Professional, as the watch that saved the lives of the Astronauts on Apollo 13 is good enough for me.

Asprey have handpainted my Ferrari in enamel on a pair of 18ct gold cufflinks; they're great to flaunt on French cuffs when you're doing business with a serious lover of sports cars.

Some people, encouraged by Hollywood icons such as Demi Moore and Mel Gibson, try to raise their status through looking sexy.Anything that suggests wealth and makes you look taller will help. If I had a spare £3,500, I'd try standing on a Hermes Espace carbon-fibre attache case; it's stronger than steel and will survive being run over by the boss'sLand Rover after a bad day at the office, even if I don't.

7.30am Normally the metabolic rate is high in the morning so to get the day going it makes sense to adhere to the age old maxim: Eat a breakfast of Kings, a lunch of Princes and a dinner of paupers.Like most people, I never follow this sage advice so end up exercising like a maniac.In my hotel room, I test-jog Air Mocs, a pair of high tech slippers from Nike for those of us who can't stop running around the world.

After a power breakfast of porridge, fresh fruit and toast, I try not to spill the Illy expresso over my new cigar tie from Harrods. It's time to check the Dunhill de luxe travelling humidor and extract my first cigar of the day - a Diamond Crown Robusto No.3 from Cuesta-Rey.It's mild, elegant and perfect.

9amMy international pager tells me the first meeting of the morning has been postponed. Use this opportunity to relax and skim through the latest Cover magazine, which compiles the best features from the world's media.It's a thinking man's Reader's Digest and an excellent way to keep up with what's going on in the world. The latest offering from Sir Clive Sinclair is the Sinclair X1, an FM radio with autoscan that sits in your ear.I use it to check the local weather reports as I am supposed to be joining a client for a game of golf this afternoon.

10am First serious meeting of the day.Whip out my Card Scan Plus 300, a palm-sized device that can scan and decipher the information on a business card and then plug it into an organiser file on my PC, when I get back to my office.Hand out business cards from The Mini Case from Woodruffs of Winchester.Wrapped around its sturdy aluminium frame is hand-cut leather and 33 gold-plated parts.It's available in burgundy, hunter green, blue or black.My client is most impressed and would like one for Christmas.

. 1pmCheck the PC for Internet messages.Light lunch. Open my tan leather Diamond Crown cigar case and extract a Fox Churchill (7 inches x 49 ring gauge).This new range of hand-rolled cigars from the Dominican Republic was launched in London in October 1997 by James J Fox and Robert Lewis, the UK's oldest cigar merchants and suprisingly has more character and strength than the average Dominican cigar.Cut it with a stainless-steel scissors cigar cutter from Davidoff and ignite the end with a box of long cigar matches from Harrods.

2pmMeeting.They're very impressed with my Armani suit and shiny black English brogues.

3.30pmMid-afternoon corporate golf match with a client.I've got the edge with a Bushnell's Yardage Pro 400 laser range finder, a lightweight and water-resistant binocular-like device.You just point and push a button and the range finder tells you exactly how far you need to hit your next shot.Like business, golf's a mind game but you don't have you waste your braincells on calculating how far the bunkers or water hazards are from your ball.Later, I use it to calculate how far my next martini is when I'm in the hotel bar.

Still on the golf course, I produce a Tee-Gar, a cigar support which snaps on to any standard tee, and rest my Cuaba before attempting a hole-in-one.

Afterwards pick up an urgent call on my Philips Genie GSM mobile phone.It's ultra-light with a Voice-Dial facility so I can not only talk through it, but to it.We're getting on so well I think I'll ask Genie out for a date tonight.The say the best accessory is a woman (or a phone).

5pm Re-check the Feng-Shui.My desk is definitely in the wrong position - according to the experts it should be one of three and facing the window.

6pmSerious discussion.E-mail my clients.The Boss allows me to light up a Cohiba and celebrate.Out comes the Remy Martin Louis XIII in a crystal decanter.I think I'll ask for a raise.

7.30 pmToo many cigars and too many drinks.Decide to put on Levi jeans, t-shirt, trainers and workout in the hotel gym.

8.30pmDon an Ermenegildo Zegna three piece charcoal grey pinstripe suit, which I enliven with a Bombay Sapphire gin silk necktie, designed by Nicole Miller.It features gin bottles, Martini glasses and olives.

9pmOver dinner, I take photos ofmy colleagues with the latest Sharp VE-LC1H digital camera, one that comes complete with PixLab Windows software, enabling me to link the camera up to my PC and combine lots of different photographs in a single seamless image - very handy if I ever get to the Grand Canyon again.It also lets you shoot standard, wide-angle and panoramic photos and get perfect prints every time.

Earlier, during the golf match, I'd taken some surreptitious shots with a Canon IXUS L-1, an autofocus compact camera with 26mm lens that is smaller than a cigarette pack.

I can now download an entire roll of 25 exposure film to my PC in less than a minute with Fujifilm's AS-1 Filmscan-it, which comes with Adobe Photo Deluxe - a software program that allows me to retouch, correct colour or manipulate images prior to printing. I decide to crop out the attractive blonde I met earlier in that bar.

11.30pm Set the timer on my Psion 5 palm-top organiser.Dream about more accessories and a large truck to carry them in. As for the real me, I left the world of business behind years ago to live a fuller and happier life. At any time of the day or night I can light up the best accessory money can buy - a fine Havana cigar!

Copyright James Leavey, 1999.All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the Author.


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