13 JANUARY 1996, Page 30

My Pipes

Many, in the way of things, have been broken or lost — where and how I can't remember; yet they were all my darlings: each one in its time a rare companion and comforter.

For their service — forgotten. Every individual shape, balance, texture, solace, merged in a master-pattern: the Platonic Ideal of what I stick in my face.

The survivors — a poor lot lolling about in the rack without useful employment I can differentiate too well: blocked, sour, hot to smoke, light, loose-jointed, leaky, bent.

But the one I'm puffing now a peerless pipe, a fine friend is bound for oblivion.

Dropped, or snapped, or lost somehow from my fondest care, its end is a foregone conclusion.

Tony Connor