Who knew? (Sweet Afton is no more)

Well, with all this Scottish material invading the slumbering quietude that is Northern Irish politics, it’s as well to note that tonight is Rabbie Burns Night, which in turn put me in mind of one of his most famous poems. It opens:

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise
My Mary’s asleep by they murmuring stream
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

You can get the rest here..

Burns’ sister married and then moved Dundalk, where she was buried. Many years later, in 1919, Sweet Afton, (the southerner’s Woodbine, so far as I as a non smoker can work out) was launched on the Irish market by Carrolls.

It was one of my uncle’s few tangible vices (Victory Vs, and the odd bottle of Smithwicks were his others), although I had the impression as a child that he only ever bought them in tens…

That first verse was printed on the reverse of the distinctive yellow packet. It’s relevance to the experience of smoking would mean more to an aficionado of the blessed weed, but in later years it was sole preserve of a declining number of hold outs from the filter tips which have been dominant since the sixties.

According to Ian Jack even got a mention in Jean Luc Goddard’s 1959 short, Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s’appellent Patrick.

Production stopped at the end of last November. So this Burns Night is the first without someone somewhere turning over a packet and a remembering, if not raising a glass to the poet… So last word to the man himself:

Here’s tae us
Wha’s like us
Damn few,
And they’re a’ deid
Mair’s the pity!


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