⟨ I Know I'll Often Stop and Think About Them ⟩

12-Reason to Love

Ashtray Made In Hong Kong

Words & Photography / Holun Tang
Translation / Nicole Go

三十歲的時候才開始學人家抽煙,已經學不會了。

很難成為所謂的癮,只是偶然想起來的時候便抽一下,抽的話抽半根就好。那時候我是抱着犯禁的心情開始嘗試。而且我曾經到處問人,到底抽煙是什麼感覺呢?直接一點就是想知道抽煙的好處,但總是沒有人可以好好回答,通常是得到「可以放鬆一些」和「飯後抽一根舒服死了」這些模棱兩可的答案。

後來我才發現,抽煙這個行為,該是一種心情,所以不太好說。

相比起抽煙,我想我喜愛的其實是抽煙周邊的事物,譬如呼氣的方式、打火機的聲音、不同人抽的不同味道、煙絲的產地,這些東西比抽煙本身實在具體而有趣得多。要說其中的主角,必然是煙灰缸。每次到舊物店、選物店,我第一時間會留意煙灰缸的身影,一不小心便收藏了很多個。

At the age of 30, you can no longer learn how to smoke a cigarette.

It would be difficult to develop a so-called addiction. Rather, a whim; half a cigarette, tops. I started smoking just to break the taboo. I used to ask around: what is it like to smoke? In other words, I wanted to know what good there was to smoking, but I never seemed to find a satisfactory answer. “It winds you down,” some would tell me, “There’s nothing more comforting than a cigarette after dinner.”

Later, I realised smoking was not so much an act as it was a feeling, hence the ineffability of it all.

I think what I actually love is not smoking itself, but its context and props. The rhythm of breath, the clicking of the lighter, the aromatics, the origin of the tobacco, and so on, are far more interesting than the act itself – at the heart of which is the ashtray. Every trip to the vintage or select shop is an unspoken, though always lucrative, quest for ashtrays.

煙灰缸總是散發著難以言喻的魅力,也許是它只有收納煙灰、煙蒂,和放置香煙這兩個簡單目的,世間的煙灰缸都充分發揮着「Form follows function」的極致,很少會看到很醜的煙灰缸。假設我在一個小碟的邊沿上造幾道凹口,你便自然知道那是放置香煙的地方,是如此微小的美麗。

Ashtrays have a strange aura to them. Mere receptacles for ashes and cigarettes, they are the epitome of “form follows function”, which is why they are rarely hideous. One needs only create two notches on the rim of a small dish for it to be immediately recognisable as an ashtray – a beauty, so minuscule.

不過煙灰缸一般不是收藏的對象,一來不值甚麼錢,二來通常被當成消耗品看待,想要的話去買新便可,很多舊物店店主表示大多舊款已經失落。我好不容易才尋回了這款記掛多時的經典煙灰缸,而且是香港製造。過去我外公在家便是使用它,但不知道為什麼現在已難覓其影蹤。巧妙地運用彈簧的彈力,使用者只要按壓中心的開關,所有煙灰、煙蒂會像魔術表演般馬上消失不見,是我覺得應該承傳下去的聰明設計。

Ashtrays are unusual collectibles, because they are worthless and easily replaced – a lost cause according to many vintage shops. I went through a lot of trouble to find this nostalgic make, and it was made in Hong Kong. My grandfather used to have one, but it’s very hard to come by these days. One pushes down the spinning ashtray to dispense the ashes and butts into the covered basin beneath. It’s a lost art.

我想像我外公把煙灰按下去的模樣,他的家老是散發一股獨特的陳舊味道,到長大後才懂得那是煙味。煙灰消失了,味道卻留下來,也是我喜歡香煙的理由嗎?

I picture my grandfather pressing down his spinning ashtray. There used to be something rustic about the air in his house, which I now recognise as the smell of cigarettes. Gone are the ashes, but the aftertaste lingers – is that my reason to love cigarettes?