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Quantum of Solace

QUANTUM of Solace was originally an intriguing short story penned by Ian Fleming in a Bond compendium.

Our hero – at his sour, misogynist, world-weary best manages – just – to maintain civility at a gathering of moneyed couples in a Mediterranean Ambassadorial residence.

Trying to find the right moment to leave (as soon as he can possibly get out, but not so early it causes awkward offence) the Scotsman finds himself drawn into a conversation with the, at first, taciturn Ambassador.

After a glib comment about wishing to marry an air stewardess (they look great, smile all the time and fuss over you with drinks and food) Bond listens, interest growing, to a tale of infidelity, living the high life on her Majesty’s pound and eventually man’s inhumanity to fellow man (or woman, as this case has it). The titular phrase comes as the Ambassador sums up the reason some relationships prosper and others catastrophically collapse. They must retain a Quantum of Solace – an unseen, unspoken agreement between the parties that each must offer something of a refuge and harbour from the outside world to the other. Once this balance is tipped and the quantum is no longer achieved, relationship rubble is the inevitable result.

That long-winded and fascinating intro is all apropos of bringing your attention to the Quantum of Solace you receive from your cigar. Does it give you what you need? Does it offer respite and relaxation from the trials and tribulations of your day? Or does it fail repeatedly to meet that quotidian which feeds the heart and mind and, instead, becomes toxic?

It’s an odd question, you may think, but bear with us. The best smokes you’ll ever have will be the carefree, peaceful, fully-enjoyed moments of downtime. You’ll appreciate every nuance of the cigar, every complex shift in flavour. You’ll appreciate your company and be thankful for it. You’ll be at one with yourself, the world and your fellow man.

Take the opposite situation – we’ve all been in them. When you grab a smoke, despite it not being the right time or place. You may err and choose the wrong cigar, not have enough time or space to enjoy it or simply waste the right one. Whichever, the fact is that this cigar is deeply dissatisfying. Its flavours are harsh, its blend a jangling mess of contrasts. You’ll wish you’d never lit it up.

Which is our point with Quantum of Solace. Your cigar – just like your loving relationships, if you subscribe to Fleming’s hypothesis – needs to give you an element of satisfaction and enjoyment. If it fails repeatedly to meet that critical median, you will fall out of love with it – and may even consider cigar divorce.

It’s essential, in our opinion, that you marry cigar, mood and moment to maximise your Quantum of Solace. We’ve mentioned before on these pages that it may not be wise to light up when you’re dog tired, grumpy, under the weather or downright cantankerous, for your cigar will undoubtedly taste foul. And of course, when you’re on top of the world, have just smashed the business deal of your life and are riding high, your lovingly indulged smoke will taste all the sweeter.

Pick your moments; pick your cigars. Don’t fire up any old stick just to feel something burning between your teeth. This is more akin to cigarette dependence than the art of enjoying a fine, handrolled cigar. We humbly submit that you’d be better served by utilising a little cigar intelligence, know-how and nous.

Keep the Quantum of Solace balanced on your side – and you’ll have a faithful and constant companion for life.

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