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The Last Gasp

by guest writer, Andy Connew

The Last Gasp came about through an idea discussed over a Mojito in Cathedral Square, Havana in February this year. Jim Biddle and his family were on vacation with my wife and me and some other friends and we were talking about the ease of smoking in Cuba compared to the prospect of the ban coming into force in the UK.

We decided there and then that we would set up a “Last Gasp” evening at Jim’s restaurant for smokers only and this would be organised and set as a joint venture between Club Havana forum and The Shed and hopefully we could ask Mitch to attend. Happily for us Mitch agreed to make the journey and also sponsored the evening with many cigars and gifts for the raffle.

The weekend started nice and early on the Friday with many of our cigar aficionados turning up in Falmouth from lunchtime onwards. With the majority of them staying at the Falmouth Hotel, it seemed like the logical choice for a preliminary herf.

Therefore, at around 7pm on the 29th we began to descend on the hotel bar, turning up in ones, twos and small groups until we had a group of 22 of us in all, including Mitch and his lovely wife Karyn. We virtually took over the lounge area of the bar and once we had all fired up the atmosphere became decidedly “foggy.” We all smoked various cigars including some fine Romeo y Julietas from the 1960’s, which went down very well.

Due to some rain on the Saturday golf and fishing never went ahead but this gave some more time for more serious herfing. With another 10 or 12 serious smokers turning up for the Saturday we had to make more visits to Newquay airport and then arrange drop offs at hotels etc.

The Last Gasp herf started early in the evening with many smokers turning up at The Shed by 6pm, giving us all a chance to smoke more cigars indoors while we could.
The cigar party took over most of the restaurant area of The Shed and we all managed to smoke before, during and after the meal. Cigars for the evening were kindly donated by Mitch and we started with an Upmann Petit Corona, followed swiftly by a Partagas Corona, both cabinet selection I should add, and finished off with a great Ramon Allones Belicoso. Many other sundry cigars ably supported these and the evening saw many smokers getting through 5 or 6 good Havanas. The local press sent reporters along with a local TV crew, who interviewed several of our group for TV news events. These were broadcast on local television over the next 2 or 3 days and hopefully raised the profile of the smoker’s plight.

After the meal we held a raffle, with proceeds going to the running costs of Club Havana forum, where we had many wonderful prizes, most of which were once again donated by our sponsor for the evening Mitch. With all the noise of the evening, the only way we could make the winning numbers heard was to ask Martyn (Robusto) to announce the numbers…a job he took to heart with great relish and without him, we could not have managed. We then asked Mitch to host the auction for cigars donated by some of our other sponsors and once again Martyn helped out in getting the bids and lots across to our eager participants.

While all this was going on many of the smokers wives had found themselves at the Roulette table, kindly set up by the management of The Shed for the night. The restaurant and the outside area of The Shed were extremely busy until the early hours with smokers keen to make the most of their own “last gasp.”

 Many of the cigar aficionados inside made a point of smoking the best cigar they could lay their hands on as their last legal public indoor smoke, my own being a Cuban Davidoff kindly donated by Glynn.
During the whole event, we were lucky enough to have the company of Tillman and his wife, who were responsible for the wonderful photographs of the evening. The group started to slowly disperse around 1am with the last stragglers leaving The Shed at almost 2.30am. Some of us were even lucky enough to get lifts home from our closet mini cab driver for the evening, Medic Mike and his old Mercedes.

Sunday started bright and early with smokes over mugs of tea and coffee and then most of the serious smokers meeting once again at The Shed for a champagne breakfast and cigars, smoked outdoors of course.

This has to have been one of the best herfs I personally have been to and I have never seen so many happy and genial cigar smokers in one place at one time. Many thanks and mentions must go out for the evening to all concerned but special mentions to the following;-
Mitch for his kind sponsorship of our events once again
Club Havana for setting the whole thing up
My wife Georgie for her tea making skills over the weekend for our guests
Jim Biddle for letting us take over his restaurant, The Shed
Martyn (Robusto) for his bingo calling expertise with raffles etc
Ken Valentine (Maui) who travelled from Oregon just for the event
Glynn, UK Smoker, Maui, Martyn, Mr Nozzle, Medic Mike, Bnelly, Will, Fluffy, SteveGriff, Spacemonkey No.9, Turbo, Dragon, Lord Lucan and all the other cigar smokers who took the time and made the effort to make this a truly memorable evening.
We should not forget the patience and understanding of all the wives and girlfriends as well…without that, there are many of us who may not have been there

Andy (Cigar-Aficionado)

Thanks to professional photographer and member of our cigar group Tillman Pretscher who kindly did the photography

The Last Gasp Movie!

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