Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

She was Ariadne to my Theseus

I became hooked on vaping (flavour: peach) thanks to a Cretan beauty

My contempt for vaping deepened as vaping contraptions became more ostentatious and people started hanging them from lanyards around their necks. When Trev starting vaping, I lost what little hope for the future of humankind that I had left. He puffs on his elaborate dummy non-stop when we go out. The first time I gave it a sceptical look, he took it out of his mouth and offered me the wet end. ‘Have a taste,’ he said. ‘Blueberry and cream flavour. Nice, isn’t it?’ ‘Ponce,’ I said.

During this summer’s Spectator cruise, smoking was banned except on the starboard side of two decks. It was a bit of a nuisance, especially on windy nights. One day we berthed at Heraklion, Crete, and took a taxi to visit the archaeological site of Knossos. The denseness of the crowds there, and the barging, and the gimcrack reconstructions, were depressing. After about three minutes I fled to the row of souvenir shops by the entrance and stayed there, browsing placidly among the tat until our party re-emerged from the rocky trenches sweatier and none the wiser.

In the first souvenir stall, rechargeable vaping sticks in a range of attractive colours were half price and the young woman in charge of the stall was a perfect ten. I expressed an interest in her special offer. She took one from the box, filled it with liquid, put it between her lovely lips and tested it. Then she handed it to me to try. Flavour of peach. It didn’t seem to be working properly. She took it again and got up a head of steam and passed it back. I had another go. She was kindness itself as we worked on my technique. When I think today of Sir Arthur Evans’s painstaking excavations at the Minoan palace at Knossos, I see only those lips, and the great rolling plume of vapour she expelled from her healthy lungs, and the two smaller plumes that came out of those wonderful nostrils.

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