Friday, October 14, 2005

With Really Sincere Apologies to Alexandre Dumas

Yes, I know I'm late again with my articles, but this time I've a really good excuse.

As the more literary of my readers will know, in 1831 a young French judge named Alexis De Tocqueville went on a journey through the United States. He wrote about his travels in the now famous Democracy in America. What many of you don't know, however, is that Alexis was in America based on a bet. You see, like many a young French aristocrat Alexis used to spend quite a few evenings engaged with ladies of ill repute around the salons and back alleys of Paris. He'd often do this with his good friend, André Baudelaire. "Bawdy by name, Bawdy by nature", Alexis' wife, Mary, an English lady not scared of a good time, used to comment.

One night over a young whore Alexis and André were contemplating the meaning of life. (Only the French can contemplate the meaning of life whilst fucking a whore.) They decided that to capture their moment in time they should write books based on their adventures. They were, however, in disagreement over what sort of book they should write. "I know", Alexis said with the wisdom of Solomon, "we'll toss a coin. The winner has to enjoy the company of 500 women, documenting the good and the bad about each one in a book. The loser has to travel to America and write a book about its political, legal and sociological institutions." They tossed, Alexis lost, and off to America he went.

André, meanwhile, stayed in Paris and 100 nights later completed his now totally forgotten A Guide to the Whores of Paris.

It was with this in mind that I decided, during a lull in fighting duties, to embark on my own travels and write a book about my journey. It would certainly be interesting, I thought, to write an update on Tocqueville's work in the current political climate - Cronyism in America perhaps? But then I thought, fuck it, doesn't sound like a holiday to me. So off I went to Paris to update André's classic.

Now my friends found this a hilarious plan, so much so that my old mate George offered to take me over the pond in his classic 100-foot sailing yacht. Not one to pass up the chance, I gladly stepped aboard. Inspecting the yacht with George, I came across a lovely lass cleaning my toilet, Monique. This little French filly put a fair bit of lead in the old pencil. "I'll have to come across her again," I thought, "as she's cleaning something else".

Sure enough, the old Garr charm worked wonders and within hours Monique had become a regular in my bed, bathroom, wardrobe, the galley, wheelhouse, deck, crow's nest, that netting at the stern...

Now Garr's not one to fall in love, but this Monique had something special about her. Petite little thing, underarm hair like the French girls do but even that I found sexy. Would bite your head off angry and bite your head off happy. Wild like a racehorse. I spent every waking and sleeping minute with her.

Unfortunately, this pissed off one of the other occupants of the boat. As those of you with $20 million sailing ships are well aware, piracy is rife so it's important to have security on board. George being cheap had invested in a team of Ghurkas, crazy little Nepalese bastards who are always walking around with bloody big knives. Fernand, one of these fellas, it turned out had been fucking Monique before my arrival and decided I must die...or at least be tortured pretty badly.

I didn't find this out, of course, until I was up on the deck one evening after another of my nightly workouts. Dick D. Devlin had provided me with the new Montecristo Edmundo, named after Edmundo of course from Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo. I was really looking forward to trying it. I cut it, lit it and went to put it to my lips when all of a sudden a knife came flying at me and narrowly avoided my head, splitting my cigar in half. I looked over and there was that crazy little Ghurka bastard coming at me. "I don't mind you attacking me", I roared, "but no one fucks with my cigars!" Out of nowhere another one popped out, the two of them closing in on me like gays around the last Kylie Minogue concert ticket. I grabbed an oar from a lifeboat to defend myself, but the little bastards were too quick. Before I knew it they had floored me and were on top of me, like Lilliputians on Gulliver.

"A Montecristo Edmundo, Colonel Garr", Fernand said. "You know, back in army training the Count of Monte Cristo was our favourite book. Perhaps we should offer you the same fate, only in this story there is no escape." Bugger that, I thought. I've got fucking to do, I don't have fourteen years to spend in some prison and all the rest of the shit that went down in that book. "Fuck 'em", I decided, "it's time for action".

My dear readers, those of you who are big action movie fans and watch James Bond or the others fighting will know what I should have done at this stage is thrown the two off me, then proceeded to enter into a clean fist-fight with each of them until they had fallen dead around me, suprisingly with no blood. Unfortunately, those of you who get in real fights will know this sort of strategy will only end one way: me being dead. No, the reality is the only way to beat two guys on one is to fight dirty and escalate immediately.

I grabbed my lighter, put it on Fernand's balls and lit them on fire. This freed my other hand to sink my fingers into the other one's eyeballs. It actually popped out and went rolling down the deck. By this stage Fernand had put the fire out and was advancing again, but slid on the eyeball and went flying off the deck into the water. His mate was so disoriented I easily wacked him with the oar and sent him to the sharks as well.

With that, I marched into their cabin, grabbed Fernand's copy of The Count, and used it to light my Montecristo. A very nice smoke.

Upon our landing in France, Monique had started to grate on me. As Alfie said, "Whenever you meet a beautiful woman, just remember somewhere there's a man who's sick of shagging her." I ditched her, said my thank-yous to George (and apologies for killing his Ghurkas) and went in search of whores. 100 nights later I was sore, happy and probably diseased but had finished my masterpierce. I wandered back down to the port where George was meeting me, my notes in hand to show him. As I walked to the boat, however, that little bastard Fernand came out of nowhere, this time wearing an Ermenegildo Zegna suit with Monique on his arm. He wasn't spoiling for a fight, but was acting like a gentleman. A little crazy Nepalese bastard gentlemen, but a gentlemen nonetheless. "It was me who survived, Colonel Garr", he boasted. "I am the Count of Monte Cristo after all." With that, he snatched my notes away and used them to light his cigar.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Spectacular Failure with the Cambridge Five

Dear Readers, please, please accept my apologies. I know it's been some time since I posted a new review, but I do have a good excuse. I've been in Washington at the special request of the President helping him select the new Director of National Intelligence. Now those of you who know me well know I am not one to over-state my importance, so I must clarify that I was not performing a major role in Mr. Negroponte's selection. In fact, my duty was little more than helping George read the applications. Which for George is not an easy task, what with having to sound out each word and all.

Of course, this isn't the first time the US has involved me in intelligence operations on their own turf. The first mission I can remember undertaking back in Washington was in late 1950, when J Edgar Hoover contacted me to assist him with a little undertaking. Now for those of you familiar with J Edgar's personal interests, this request was enough to make one shudder. Being a true patriot, however, I swallowed my pride and went to see him, hoping pride would be all I'd be made to swallow.

Fortunately, J Edgar was in the mood for business. He'd just finished meeting with Kim Philby, the recently appointed British Secret Service liason to the CIA. J Edgar told me Philby seemed a likeable enough character, but he just didn't trust the British. His view was that their role in Washington was nothing to do with liason; rather it was about spying on American interests. He had men watching Philby, but needed someone to get close to another British diplomatic corp officer he suspected of spying. My mission was to get close to the First Secretary at the British Embassy, one Guy Burgess. I had never heard of this Burgess, but nevertheless accepted the task.

My cover was a State Department liason to the British Embassy. I made a call to Burgess, introduced myself and my new role, and requested a meeting. Burgess suggested the best place to meet would be at a local bar. I didn't think anything of this, knowing the British fondness for a good ale. Regardless, I still arrived early and cased the place. It was a dingy, British style pub, but quite good so far as discrete conversation went because it was smoky and noisy. I grabbed a pint of Guiness and settled into a booth which afforded me some privacy at the same time as giving me a good view of the room.

Some time later a somewhat dishelved man entered, wearing an Eaton tie and a pin-striped suit. I knew my mark from the dossier J Edgar had given me, so walked over and introduced myself. "Thoroughly charmed", Burgess announced, grabbing a Scotch and returning with me to the booth. I offered him a Don Leo Perfecto Robusto - the short black of cigars - and we chatted and smoked. One of the things I'll always remember about Burgess' appearance is that his suits were always the finest Saville Row cloth, yet they were always stained. It seemed to be a combination of cigar ash, scotch, and what I could only make out as semen.

After five minutes with Burgess I found him a thoroughly entertaining drunk, and a roving great homosexual. He said of one of the fatter embassy staffers, also gay, "I could never have sex with him. All that white flesh; it would be like sleeping with Dame Nellie Melba". He told me how he never travels by train: "I'm scared I'd seduce the driver and we'd crash". Despite the fact we'd met at noon, Burgess had no plans on returning to his office and kept drinking with me until well after sunset. He never attempted any seduction of me, fortunately, no doubt guessing from my masculine appearance that I was into the feminine form. I walked him to his car around 10pm, a garish pink Lincoln parked on the footpath outside the bar. He pulled the parking ticket from the windscreen, threw it on the floor, and drunkenly drove off yelling "Diplomatic immunity".

I continued to meet with Burgess throughout the winter, and attempted all I could to find out how much of a spy he was. He didn't seem to hide much; quite often, I would meet him for a drink and he'd bring along some young man who had become attached to him. Sometimes, these sex toys of his even wore dresses. It just wasn't the behaviour you'd except of a spy, and no matter how drunk he got he never once let slip. He was like a reverse James Bond and we all know James Bond could never have really existed as a spy because he stands out like dogs balls. And the modus operandi for a spy is to blend in.

Then on February 28, 1951, I was woken at 6am by Burgess. "Garr, my good man. I'm off to South Carolina to espouse my wisdom to the young lads at the Citadel, and I'd love you to join me for the trip", he announced. I grumbled all the way down to the car, telling him he was an idiot driving there (it was a good 500 mile trip from Washington). "Garr, have you no faith. I'm adequately supplied", he replied as he opened the trunk of that damn pink Lincoln to reveal a boot full of scotch, cigars and other intoxicants. I was due for a meeting at the FBI that morning, but I decided "Fuck 'em", grabbed a Montecristo A and a bottle of Glenfiddich and jumped in the passenger seat.

I knew Burgess took certain liberties with the whole diplomatic immunity thing, but he was on fire this day. He's swigging from the scotch bottle as we drive down the freeway at 100 miles an hour. I decide the only way my nerves will hold up on this journey is to drink some more, so I start swigging away in earnest. All of a sudden, he slams on the brakes and my scotch spills all over me. "What the fuck?", I ask as Burgess rapidly backs the car up. There on the side of the road is a young hitchhiker wearing a US Air Force uniform. "Jump in", Burgess offers.

Soon, the young airman, Jimmy as I recall, is happily drinking and smoking too. Little does the poor bastard know Burgess is sizing him up for later, but I somehow suspect Jimmy might not care. We are still flying along, when not twenty miles out of Washington the wail of a police siren comes up behind us. A motorcycle cop has pulled us over for speeding. Burgess just shows his diplomatic pass and off he goes. I later found out from J Edgar that the cop informed his boss, who in turn informed the FBI, who tailed us pretty much from this point. We got pulled over again in Virginia, this time doing 90 miles an hour past a military convoy, and again Burgess used his diplomatic status to evade a fine. Not long after this Burgess started to swerve randomly across the road as he drank. Jimmy and I decided he was too pissed to keep driving, and since Jimmy had drank the least we let him take the wheel. We were almost at Charleston when Jimmy did 110 miles an hour past a police car. Sirens blazing the cops gave chase. Jimmy floored it and off we went for about three miles before we convinced him to pull over. Jimmy tried to show his drivers' license to the cop, but Burgess started yelling from the back: "I'm the British ambassador you fool, and this man is my chauffeur. If you make an issue out of this, you declare war on England itself". Not suprisingly, this seemed to only piss the cop of and he confiscated Burgess' diplomatic pass and took us all down the local station.

Luckily for all of us a now almost paralyetic Burgess passed out at the station, and in his slumber was fined fifty dollars on the spot. Jimmy helped me take him to a hotel and then decided we were nothing but trouble and left. I threw Burgess in the shower and got him into bed, then went to my room and got some sleep myself.

Next morning Burgess headed to the Citadel for his speech. Considering his behaviour the day before I was expecting some more fireworks so gladly accompanied him. To my disappoint, however, he gave his speech straight and then made me drive him home as he slept.

When we arrived back in Washington, however, the fireworks were going off. His Ambassador, who never really liked him, had heard about the drinking binge and promptly shipped Burgess back to England. He didn't seem to mind too much though; at a pub across the road from the passenger terminal he met a nice young American man who was on the same boat. "Two queens on The Queen Mary, what more could I ask for?" Burgess smiled as he left.

I dutifully informed J Edgar of all this, and he told me the FBI's view was that Burgess was nothing more than a drunk. The behaviour was just too strange, he agreed, for a spy.

Time, it transpires, shows how wrong we were. In the late 1940s some idiot at the Soviet Embassy couldn't figure out how to use a one time pad properly, and left a flaw in their secret codes. The Australians, British and Americans cracked their code and figured out their messages, and not long after Burgess' departure it came out that he was part of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five. The whole method of his departure had been planned as a cover as to why he was so quickly leaving the US - he defected to the Soviet Union shortly after his return to London.

I missed the whole thing, and because of that failure a spy who had sent many men to their deaths with the information he passed had escaped. I am, however, not one that likes to fail, so once I heard about the defection I got to thinking how I could hunt him down and kill him. But that's another story...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hunting Cubans in Angola

They were racist fuckers, that old South African regime. I've never been a fan of segregation - "the system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality" - but even racists were better than communists. So my old employer, the CIA, had me covertly go down there in the 80's to fight against the commies in Angola.

It's no huge secret that we were there against the Soviets - Angola was the hot zone of the Cold War. I didn't mind when I got the mission orders - even when they were based on the White House insisting on deniability - because I knew where there were Soviets there would be Cubans. I'd long run out of real Cuban cigars, and prefer a Punch over the best of the Dominicians (which by the way is a Don Leo) any day. So I was pretty keen to kill some Cubans and steal their cigars.

Sitting on the Hercules over there, I did get to thinking about those Soviets though. They're tough bastards, and I'd be lying if I said the prospect of going head-to-head with them didn't scare me. Particularly as I recalled a story Ariel Sharon told me once.

I was complimenting him on the Mossad's ability to fight Arab terrorism. He said, "You think we're good, we've nothing on the KGB." He then recounted a story that is probably old enough for me to give you some details on, dear readers. A few years back in a certain Middle Eastern country one of the Arab terrorist factions took a number of Soviet embassy staff - including the local KGB agent - hostage. "Now if they were Israeli," Sharon told me, "we would have found out where they had the hostages, sent our special forces in, killed the terrorists and freed our people. But the KGB are truly inspired. They found out where the hostages were being held, found out who the terrorists were, found out who their families were. Then they kidnapped all the male members of the terrorists' family - their brothers and fathers - killed them and dumped their bodies out the front of the terrorists' hide-out. Now in the minds of these terrorists bringing shame upon your family is the worst thing you can do; they all killed themselves and the hostages walked free. And from that day on, no Soviet citizen was ever touched in the Middle East."

For a soldier about to fight the Soviets, that wasn't a memory I liked having fresh in my mind. As a true patriot, however, I marched on into battle.

Now it was an unusual sort of war. The South African armed forces were not overly impressive. They had a few very good men, but the bulk of their outfit were conscripts and crazy mercenaries. Old New Zealanders, yanks and Aussies who couldn't get back into normal society after Vietnam.

I was pleased when I saw my first platoon - all conscripts, no mercenaries so at least I knew if they accidentally shot me it really would be an accident. Our mission was to go deep behind enemy lines, find the enemy, and then call in our gunships to blow the hell out of them. Of course, a scouting mission like this required us to get deep into Angola without anyone knowing we were there. So lots of moving at night and things like that.

We were holed up one day getting some sleep when I was woken by one of my outer sentries. He was a young conscript, but had real fear in his eyes when he woke me. "Sir, I don't know what it is but I can hear this... beat...out in the distance". This was something that worried me, because I had seen first hand the Zulu warrior chant - thousands of them in a zombie-like trance marching into battle. The last thing you wanted to face when all you had was 11 conscripts backing you up. I hurriedly went out to listen and sure enough, I could hear a definite booming, rythmic beat out in the distance. I quickly got the men into position. I wasn't exactly sure what it was, but it was coming at us too fast to scatter. All we could do was get into position and hope it passed us by.

The beat was getting louder, however, and closer. Then all of a sudden, my ears made out what it was. The Canned Heat song On The Road Again. "What the fuck?", I thought. It sure wasn't Zulus, but what was it? I told the boys to ready the RPG's and get set to fire. Then, through the jungle emerged a fucking South African Armoured Personnel Carrier with a huge Ghetto Blaster duct-taped to the front. We walked toward it stunned. Who could be this fucking stupid?

The hatch opened and up popped a head. "Sweet. We heard you were out here", a Kiwi mercenary yelled as he started throwing cans of Speights in our direction. "What the fuck are you doing?" I asked him. "We got bored so thought we'd come out and stir up some shit", he replied. Now I'm not a man to lose his temper easily, but this annoyed the crap out of me. "Are you all Kiwis in there", I asked. "Sure are, brother", he replied. "Fuck 'em" I thought and took control of one of the RPG's. Kiwis always wonder why so many of them get killed by friendly fire - shit like this was the reason why. I launched a missile and blew the fuckers away.

I considered the explosion of an APC being blown to smithereens wasn't really that much of an issue because these idiots had drawn so much attention to us the Soviets were sure to be bearing down on us anyway. And just like rugby league players to a gangbang, in they flocked. "Get on the radio and get those gunships in now!" I yelled as I dove to the ground and started firing at those commie bastards. Now the gunship pilots are usually all on speed, so they aren't too bad at getting to a battle fast. And sure enough it wasn't long before I heard them coming in. "Incoming!" I heard all around as we pressed ourselves into the dirt, flicking up the orange reflectors on our helmets. This little plastic reflector was my saviour; the only way they knew who was friendly and who wasn't. The roar of rockets came down around me.

Now the problem with pilots on speed is once they get into battle they get pretty bloody excited. So there were explosions everywhere - some damn close to me. Most people who haven't experienced a major explosion at close-range think the heat and the flames and the noise are the worst part. They're not. It's the absolutely gut-wrenching wave, like a sonic boom that passes through your body and totally disorientates you.

Luckily, once they got the shrapnel out of my bloody head we all survived that mission.

I was pretty pissed because the cuts in my head really hurt and I still couldn't get my hands on a decent cigar. Luckily, hookers in South Africa are sexy and cheap, so things weren't all bad. When a mission to find some downed Cuban pilots came up, however, I was first to volunteer.

My platoon this time consisted of the usual batch of conscripts and three Aussie mercenaries. Out into battle we went. Well, we were out there for four pretty uneventful days with no sign of them. The mercenaries were starting to get pretty edgy - they don't get paid unless they bring the thumbs of the pilots back for verification - and the last thing you went when you're in the middle of nowhere is three heavily armed mercenaries going postal. So I had a little chat with them. "Boys, we're getting a bit light on fuel so we've got to reduce the weight in these jeeps. How about firing off some of these rockets and explosives at those big trees?" They bought it and set about blowing the crap out of some big trees, which amused the hell out of them. My plan was to wait until all the major weaponry was depleted and then tell them we were going home.

All of a sudden, however, luck struck. As one of the trees was falling two dead pilots fell out of it. Their parachutes had tangled in the branches and hung them. The mercenaries went crazy as they hit the ground, running up and taking their thumbs. They then strapped their bodies to the front of the jeeps for the ride home. I was also pretty crazy as I searched them for cigars - and sure enough found six Punchs. I sat back in the jeep, opened a Speights and lit up my Punch as the boys drove us home.

Friday, December 10, 2004

On The Road Again With George W.

Dick D. Devlin is now offering me a "staff discount" for cigars, rather than supplying them free. Of course, the use of the term "staff" denotes some payment in the form of wages. I keep checking my Swiss bank account but cannot see any new deposits. I don't mind working for free, however, because to complain would mark me as some sort of communist union sympathiser and even though I'm poor and hungry I'm better than that. So long as I can afford to keep my subscription to Fox News and Soldier of Fortune magazine I'm happy.

I like Fox News, mainly because they keep saying such lovely things about my good friend George W. I met George W. in the early 80's through another friend of mine, the Australian tennis ace John Newcombe. Newc was the resident coach and party animal at the Ribs & Bourbon Tennis Club in Houston, where George W. was the reigning local champ. Knowing of my abilities with a racquet they invited me over to mount a challenge.

I knew I was going to win easily within 10 minutes of meeting George W., who picked me up with Newc from the airport the night before the match. Both of them were holding six-packs of beer as I walked into the arrivals hall, and both had finished them by the time we had loaded my luggage into the trunk of George W.'s BMW convertible. We roared out of the car park, the warm Texan air mixing with the Johnny Horton tape George W. was playing. "So y'all come all the way from Horseaustralia y'all say?" George W. yelled at me. "I ain't never ever even been outsiday the U.S. of A. y'all know. Do you'll have cars in Horseaustralia?" I started telling him he was an idiot when suddenly the car swerved across the road. George W. had decided to snort some lines of coke off the dashboard and forgot about steering.

I was a little amazed that two such drunken men with a car loaded with drugs were driving in such a cavaleer manner. I was more amazed when Newc got out his tennis racquet and started pelting balls at passers-by, wacking them randomly in the back of the head or on the ass.

We were just around the corner from the Bush family home when the flash of red and blue lights appeared behind us. "Oooh, boy!" George W. hollered, "Fuck em' I'm outta here, Yee-Hah!" He floored the BMW and the police gave chase. Beer bottles and women's underwear were flying out of the convertible every corner we took. It all ended when George W. went careering across his front lawn and rammed the car right into the poor lawn jockey guarding the letterbox. The police ran from the car and grabbed George W. just as he was falling out of the door. Newc sprinted off down the street and I was still sitting in the car watching the scene unfold.

George W. was laughing and hollering, coke across his face and a beer in his hand. The police were ready to throw the book at him. Just as they were about to arrest him the door to the residence flew open and out stormed Barbara Bush, followed closely by George H.W. and Former President Richard Nixon. Barb stormed up to the police officer, grabbed him by the throat and slammed him on to the bonnet of the car. "I can have you killed", she roared. The policeman knew by the steely look in her eye that he was in real danger, and also ran off down the road. She then grabbed George W. by the ear and led him inside. George H.W. followed close behind, begging her: "Now, Barb, don't be to hard on the boy." I got out of the vehicle, lighting a cigar and giving one to Nixon, who was looking through the police car for things to steal. "You know", Nixon told me, "I don't mind George H.W. but I adore Barbara. That woman really knows how to hate."

I learnt this first-hand the next day. George W. was lucky to return a serve he was so hungover, and I was a set to win the tournament. That was, until I was walking out of the change-room towards the court. Suddenly, Barb launched herself out from around the corner, a flying kick wacking me in the head and sending me falling to the ground. She grabbed my leg and planted the barrel of a small pistol behind my knee. "You beat my boy", she threatened, "and I knee-cap you."

With such an easy choice, I lit up a nice Montecristo and proceeded to smoke it as I stood on the court and let a drunken George W. thrash me.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Unimaginable Fear in Argentina

This month Dick D. Devlin has given me another bloody nice faux-Dunhill to review. This is a cigar I’m actually quite familiar with. I used to get them from a great little cigar store in St James when I was working briefly as a military adviser for the British PM.

Maggie had called me over because the Argentinians had been pissing her off. She knew that I, as a world champion polo player, knew a thing or two about nobbling Argentinians. And I was also bloody handy in combat.

I arrived at Number Ten and was lead into a room they called the Green Room. I sat there quietly smoking a cigar looking at portraits of those other old war horses Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, until my silence was interrupted by a huge commotion on the staircase. From what I could make out through all the wimpering and yelling, Dennis had done something wrong in regards to ironing Maggie’s dresses and she was out for blood. Finally the fight subsided and Maggie walked in, all charm as she sought out my honest advice on the Argentinian situation. After discussing all the different angles and complexities, she made her decision: “Fuck them”, she said. “Let’s invade the fuckers.”

Now not many people know this about the Falklands conflict, but Maggie was always one to lead from the front. So much so, that she insisted she serve with me in the first incursion team. I knew Maggie would be up to the task after seeing her some months before during a training session at Hereford. The regiment used to run these sessions for various VIP’s to understand what hostage rescues would be like if ever they were captured. Basically, they locked them in a dark room and then chucked a frag grenade in. This way they wouldn’t panic so much in a real rescue. Now whenever I’ve seen it done – regardless of how tough the hostage – we’ve found them cowering on the ground once the flash has cleared. And fair enough – frag grenades are made to stun making a huge flash and an almighty bang. When we leapt in that day with Maggie as the hostage, though, she was standing up straight holding her handbag, whilst her advisers wept on the floor around her. “Get up you wimps!” she ordered them.

Sure enough a few weeks after our Number 10 rendevous Maggie and I were aboard a Zodiac powering towards the Falklands. Not long after landing on the beach, we came across an Argentinian patrol out in the distance. We took cover, and before I knew it Maggie was stealthily sneaking up behind the poor soldier and garroting him with some metal wire. As I walked up to ensure he was dead I found Maggie chopping off one of his ears. “What are you doing?”, I asked. “Making a souvenir necklace for home, dear”, she replied with a crazed glint in her eye.

Well, within about 12 hours she had that necklace full and all the enemy soldiers in our section lay dead. Maggie was running around howling at the moon, covered in blood, and having one hell of a great time. I sat down for a quiet cigar. It was then that she sat next to me, put an arm around my waist, and told me how horny combat made her. Now I have to admit this did make me fairly interested; it’s not every day you meet a PM you can actually fuck. “Strip naked”, she instructed becoming an enticing dominatrix. I did as she said and noticed she was doing the same. Now I know the rumours about the Iron Lady, and I can confirm I was most relieved to see she does not – repeat does not – have testicles. This relief turned to horror, however, as she proceeded to pull the largest dildo I have ever seen out of her bag and strap it on. I’ve always batted for God’s Cricket Team, so I was almost wimpering that Maggie would make me turn to the dark side.

It was over twenty years ago, but I still have trouble talking about it. So, dear reader, no details. Let’s just say that to this day I still walk a little funny and have panic attacks whenever I see a female politician.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Flashman Fans Unite!

I must admit I do not always have a cigar in my mouth. When I'm looking at pornography, for example, I've always found it kind of uncomfortable to be smoking a cigar whilst exercising my tool. So if I must smoke whilst using the Internet, I update my letters - because I only use the web for porn and publishing...

Anyway. Today I was updating my profile when I thought I'd check out other fans of the Flashman series of books. Which is where I met Frank, a retired marine from the Appalachian Mountains who writes in his letters (and I quote, this is not my writing):

"Aside from collecting these old rifles, I use them. I live on a mountain top, deep in the forest. My wife works in a store in town, and she gets home around 7:30 in the evenings. I walk down the mountain to where our trail joins a county dirt road. We have a steel gate across the entrance to our trail. I wait for my wife there, and when she comes I open and close the gate. Especially in winter, when it's dark, I carry an M1891/30 Nagant rifle with me. Our woods have some animals in them that I wouldn't care to meet empty handed. Also, in the last few years, hordes of immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America have been flooding into our state, and not all of them are nice people. Isolated as I am, I have had a number of run ins with these people and it's better not to take chances."

Yes, Frank, I'm sure its you who has to be scared of the immigrants. And you people thought I was politically incorrect! But don't worry, Frank goes on to write about how he is home-schooling his kids, so at least future generations will know how to speak racistly and carry a big gun.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Very Brief Autobiography

Dick D. Devlin tells me a number of people have written or called trying to guess my identity. “What are they talking about!?”, I asked him. I’m not using a nom de plume! I assume cigar buyers have a reasonable level of sophistication, so I must say I’m shocked – shocked – that none of them have heard of me.

I’ve therefore devoted today’s column to giving you a quick autobiography of who I am and where I come from.

I’ll start by way of answering some other mail Dick D. Devlin has received – apparently many female readers have sent underwear and other unmentionables trying to ascertain as to whether or not the great Major Garr is single, and if so if they can have a taste of the legend. Well ladies, yes, I am single and I will get to each and every one of you in my own good time. This reminds me of a joke my old friend former deputy Secretary of State Rich Armitage was telling me last time he was down under. Two bulls are standing in the top paddock, looking down at all the cows in the bottom paddock. The younger bull says, “As soon as that gate opens I’m going down and fucking as many of those cows as I can.” The older bull replies, “Son, wander down slowly and fuck ‘em all”. Like the old bull I am, I do things in my own time and always end up doing the things I want. However, ladies, do please keep in mind: whilst I will spend an evening or two with you, you cannot possess me. No, marriage is not on my agenda. Women, I believe, are like hurricanes. They arrive all wet and wild and when they’re gone they’ve taken your house and your car.

I was born in 1851 (told you I’m bloody old) in London. My mother, Lola Montez, and father, the celebrated soldier Harry Flashman, never married or even lived together. In fact, at the time of my birth my father was married to another lady. So I’m genetically predisposed to my behaviour with the women.

Unfortunately Lola took me to the US and Australia when I was very young, and Harry lived outside London with his wife when he wasn’t travelling the globe fighting for King and country so I only met him when he was very old. As a youngster I would read about his exploits in the press, however. He had many successes, including rising to the rank of Brigardier-General, receiving the Victoria Cross and being knighted. When I finally met him at the age of 89, however, he told me he his greatest triumph was bedding over 10,000 women. “They could start an army with my off-spring”, he said as he slapped his nurse’s behind. As I became older I had heard some rumours that my mother had been intimate with Lord Palmerston and my lineage was therefore questioned; meeting old Harry and seeing his behaviour confirmed for me that he was truly my father.

So my upbringing was with my mother, and let me tell you she was a marvellous lady. Despite her exotic name, she had been born Marie Gilbert in Limerick, Ireland. She ran away from home in her late teens and established herself as a Spanish dancer (her mother was half-Spanish) on the continent. Before long her beauty had gathered her quite a reputation, and it was in Paris that she met King Ludwig of Bavaria. The two immediately fell in love and she became his mistress. Upon his death she seized control of Bavaria, and was its very liberal ruler until a revolution led by those bloody Catholic Jesuits forced her to flee back to England. And it was here that I came into the picture. My earliest memories of my childhood are living with my mother in New York, where she had her own Broadway play Lola Montez in Bavaria. They loved it so much there that she was asked to perform it in San Francisco, which she did. It was there that she married the proprietor of a prominent local newspaper. She would drive him crazy writing articles and editorials that she wanted published. I still remember her attacking him whenever he said they were unpublishable. She would often sneak into the printing presses and force the staff to publish them anyway, infuriating him when he read them in the morning. I suppose this is where I get my excellent style of prose from, as well as my penchant for writing unpublishable works. I remember the two fighting increasingly more as I got older, until late one night Lola ended the argument with him by grabbing his todger and sticking it in a printing press. The next morning she announced to the newspaper’s staff, “I shall say the same thing to you I said to the Bavarians: Fuck you all, I’m out of here.” Hours later, we set sail for Australia.

Arriving in the Ballarat goldfields, my mother returned to the stage and her quite erotic dancing filled the halls every night. She made her fortune from those drunken miners willing to pay the Earth to see a bit of thigh or a flash of knee. I remember one morning she read the local Ballarat Times and found an article describing her in most unflattering terms. She grabbed a horse whip and marched into their offices, whereupon she attacked the editor with the whip. He never again published a bad word about her.

With her new found fortune she took me back to New York where she retired, spending her idle time on charity activities and giving lectures about beauty and fashion to young ladies. Unfortunately, she died at just 41, leaving me an orphan at 10. A wealthy orphan, nonetheless, which made me very popular at my boarding school back in England. In my early days I would treat the boys to candy and comics, in my later years I would buy hookers and alcohol. I think every boy in my year lost their virginity on my dime.

After my school days I was a man of leisure, spending copious amounts of time and money drinking, gambling, fucking and smoking cigars at the clubs around St James and nearby alley-ways. Unfortunately, I had a little too good a time for at the age of 19 I was flat broke. Not even able to afford a roof over my head, my only option was to join the army. The best decision of my life, it transpired, for that career led me into the many adventures you are fortunate enough to hear about in these letters.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Holiday in Iraq

My apologies for those of you who have been awaiting my next letter, I sincerely regret the delay. My excuse: I was briefly called back to action. My old friend Dick Cheney telephoned from a bunker somewhere in Montana and asked me to help out his old company in securing some oil wells in northern Iraq. Not one to turn down a mate or $400,000 for a few month’s work, I dutifully went.

Before I left I visited Dick D. Devlin's Cigar Emporium & House o' Love (located at 4211 Claude de Bernales Boulevard, US Minor Outlying Islands) and used my status as a correspondent for his fledgling on-line media empire to try and get some free cigars from the starlet he had working behind the counter. This turned out to be harder to do than securing northern Iraq, so I simply stuffed a box of Dick D. Devlin's new faux-Dunhill’s down my pants when she wasn’t looking.

Arriving in Dubai some hours later I was walking past the airport bar when I heard a drunken hollering of my name. Wandering over I saw three of my old army buddies downing some Johnnie Walker Blue before their flight home. I told them of my mission and they all fell about the room laughing. According to them I had under-estimated the enormity of my task and would surely find myself dressed in a nice orange boiler suit being beheaded on the evening news. I chose to ignore most of their advice, although I did take on board their suggestion that Basra was the safest part of the country because the Brits had done a splendid job securing it. I cancelled my flight to Baghdad, took delivery of my Zodiac, and off to Basra I went.

Whilst my cruise into Basra was uneventful, I did come under a hail of verbal fire from my manager who had driven to Basra to meet me. Apparently he had suffered about fifteen ambushes and attempted kidnappings on the way down and was extremely pissed about leaving Baghdad. I gave him half the box of faux-Dunhill cigars I had stolen from Dick D. Devlin's, however, and he calmed down.

Smoking them together I asked about the mission. The first thing any good soldier knows is your success or failure in the field depends on the man fighting next to you. I had asked him to get me every available ex-regiment man, British marines, any special forces people except for Americans. Whilst I do like our American friends, my experience of them in battle is that they either shoot at friendlies – namely myself – or stir up so much shit with the local population that even other allies want to bomb us. Just as I was enjoying the creamy, smooth taste of this wonderful faux-Dunhill cigar, he dropped me with the bad news. The sales guys had calculated the profit margin wrongly, the contract was fixed-price, and therefore the salaries of my team had been cut to almost nothing. They say you pay peanuts and get monkeys, but let me tell you I would have been happy with monkeys – he’d bloody well gone and got me Americans.

If I was pissed off then you should have seen me when I was introduced to my team. We had flown north to our base where I was faced with twenty-three guys all dripping in ammunition – so much ammunition that I was sure each of them would explode if one stray match was dropped in their direction. One idiot was carrying a bazooka around, and quite a few had machetes strapped to their legs. Talking to them I reassuredly found out all twenty-three had combat experience – if you call guarding malls in places like Alabama and West Virginia combat. I figured the safest thing I could do was disarm them all and leave them here.

As I was logging on to the Internet to book my airline tickets home, a friggin’ huge rocket came flying through the wall. In one of those surreal moments you seem to experience a lot in warfare, it kept on going through the other side of the building and blew a Humvee to smithereens. I grabbed my weapons and made me way to an observation point to figure out what we were dealing with.

It turned out that our headquarters had been surrounded by the enemy. There were hundreds of them and twenty-four of us. To use a military term, we were fucked. The mall boys had immediately swung into action, firing at anything that moved in whatever direction the recoil from their weapons caused them to lurch. My chances were grim outside, but if I stayed around these idiots any longer I was sure to die. Luckily, I quickly thought of a killer plan.

Well, surely someone would be killed. I got the boys together and made them stop shooting long enough to issue some commands. They wanted to drive a convoy of Humvees, loaded up with weaponry, out into the enemy and make a run for it. Fuck them, I thought. Who was I to stop such fine military planning? I endorsed their idea and off they went. As they were heading out, I jumped into an old BMW one of the local workers had left behind and drove to just inside the gates. Looking out I could see the entire enemy force bearing down on the mall boys. I think the explosions were accented by all the ammunition they had filled the Humvees with, but whatever the reason they went up with an almighty bang. As this distraction was happening I drove my beat up beamer out the gates and headed off down the road to blend in with the other locals.

I must have done something right in a previous life – because God knows I’ve done very little right in this life – for not far down the road I came across a group of heavily armed and well trained British soldiers. They had done so well in Basra the Americans had begged them to come north and fix things up. They were cleaning up a bomb site from the very early bombings into Iraq so it wouldn’t sit in the middle of the village like a festering wound of resenment. I sat down for a well earned rest and watched them, and as I did I saw one of the bombs they were lifting out. I have no idea how this got there, but on the side were the words “Smoke this Saddam. Courtesy of Dick D. Devlin's Cigar Emporium & House o' Love.” I lit up my faux-Dunhill in tribute.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Let me introduce myself. My name is Major Curtis Garr. I am a simple man; just another old soldier, a killer of men and a lover of women. And the new, reluctant cigar reviewer for the latest internet venture from the Dick D. Devlin family of companies.

I say reluctant because I was sleeping recently on a Chesterfield at my club, when Dick D. Devlin woke me and asked if I – as the man who taught him all he knows about cigars - would share that wisdom with his customers. “No, bugger off and don’t ever wake me again”, I replied. But the big bald bastard wouldn’t let up, so in order to get him away from me I was forced to put pen to paper.

Let me begin by saying I’m a modest man, which is suprising considering I once advised Churchill on war-time strategy, am a close confidant of Maggie Thatcher, went chasing women with JFK, taught a young Bill Clinton all about cigars and other vices, and am a drinking pal of George W.

I only mention this, of course, because it leads into today’s review: the faux-Cohiba, available from Dick D. Devlin's Cigar Emporium & House o' Love (located at 4211 Claude de Bernales Boulevard, US Minor Outlying Islands). Now, as many of you know, Cohibas were Fidel Castro’s favourite cigar before he stopped smoking. He says he did so on the advice of doctors, but that’s not true. No, the real story of why Fidel quit cigars has something to do with a little task JFK commissioned me to perform.

We had just finished cunnilingus on Marilyn Monroe when JFK looked at me and said, “Curt, I’ve been meaning to ask you to do me a little favour.” Now anyone who has been a swinger knows they’re not the words you want another man to say when you’re wrist-deep in starlets, but I’m a patriot and I do what my President asks. Luckily, my fears were unfounded when he said, “I want you to kill Castro”. As I recall my exact reply was, “For my country no duty is too great a burden to bear. Now wipe your face.”

Next thing I knew I was astride a Zodiac, covertly pulling up on a Cuban beach. I could see some lights off in the distance, the tunes of Ernesto Lecuona (the Cuban Gershwin for you music lovers) drifting through the air and mixing with Cohiba smoke and the addictively aromatic smell of Cuban women. I was a man with a mission, and that mission had just become chasing skirt. I wandered down towards the bar, and like commies to Lenin’s tomb some Cuban whores saw me and approached. Good thing it was only whores and not soldiers, I thought, as in my obsessive pursuit I had left my weapons back in the boat. Armed only with an erection and some hard currency, I went on the attack.

Waking up the next day was hellish, the light almost blinding me. What had happened? What was that damn bright light burning into my retinas? Had they drugged me and now I was being interrogated? I sat bolt upright, removing a pair of ladies underwear from my face and realised I had simply come to on the beach where I must have passed out last night. Staggering over empty bottles of Bacardi, stopping only to put a hand on the old todger and check my equipment was still intact, I decided to check if my equipment was still intact – so back down the beach to the Zodiac I went.

When I got there, my special encrypted radio was flashing. I got straight on the line to Langley, where they told me my failure to complete the mission that night had allowed the Soviets to sneak some missiles into the country. Not wanting to return a failure, I grabbed my gear and headed towards Castro’s palace. Once there, I stealthily snuck into his office and found his humidor. It was filled with Cohiba’s. The plan was to lace each cigar with a special CIA manufactured poison. Unfortunately, I realised as I searched my pockets, I must have left it back in the boat. Things were not going well, I was majorly hangover, and I desperately needed to drop a special kind of bomb from the night before. That’s when I struck upon my great idea. I took his cigars into his bathroom, and after dropping some friends in his toilet wiped each Cohiba across my ass. As well as feeling surprisingly good, my rudimentary knowledge of biology told me it would add some very nasty bacteria to them. The smell was enough to kill me, so I figured the poisoning he would get would be so bloody strong he’d have to die.

As I entered his office I heard footsteps coming down the hall. I quickly replaced the Cohibas and hid in his cupboard. Moments later, Castro walked in with his advisers. After opening some windows and Castro issuing an execution order for his toilet cleaners, they got down to the business of discussing the Cuban missile crisis. Now I know from talking to JFK when I got home that he agonised over what to do. None of that for Castro: he genuinely was a crazy bastard. Every time Kruschev called Castro he said the same thing: “Fuck ‘em. Drop all the nukes on them. Every one.” This was usually followed by a pause after which he would yell down the phone, “I’m not a crazy bastard.” After Kruschev stopped calling, Castro became quite agitated and decided he needed one of his favourite Cohibas to calm down. He lit one up, put it in his mouth, then started spitting. “This thing tastes like shit”, he said. Then he spent the next 72 hours face down in a toilet bowl. When he emerged, he swore to never smoke another cigar again.

Now some of you may find this story of biological weapons use funny, but let me tell you we came damn close to the end of the world back in 1962. I learnt this some years later in a girly bar in Moscow. Looking across past an Anna Kornakova look-a-like, I saw a man who looked decidely like Kruschev drunkenly sticking banknotes to his head and leering at the girls. We struck up a conversation and I asked him about the crisis. “We never listened to Castro,” he told me. “That guy was frickin’ insane. The only time we ever would have dropped those bombs was if the US had invaded first.”

That line struck fear deep into my heart, for in 1960 JFK’s father, Joseph, had given me a considerable sum of money to take some dodgy mafia types and a few old Tammany Hall Irishmen up to Cook County and stuff ballots. Those votes got JFK over the line and stopped Nixon from winning the presidency. Nixon, I knew, was considerably more hawkish than Kennedy, and would have listened to another old friend of mine, General Curtis LeMay.

LeMay had told me in the days after the missile crisis that JFK had been a total wimp in not taking his advice. Smoking cigars in the Oval Office, LeMay had told the President he wanted to wipe Cuba from the face of the earth. And he meant it: this is the man who had fire-bombed half of Japan and nuked two cities during World War II.

Who would have thought that whilst the assassin in me would fail, my stuffing of a ballot would save the world?

So my verdict on the faux-Cohiba is:

1. Always smell the end before smoking one.
2. Do not buy any while that commie bastard is still in power: the last thing we want to do is fund him to buy his own bombs.
3. Vote early and vote often.