Players Number 6


Recently I saw an elderly woman hobbling around the outdoor market wearing a two-tone blue coat and carrying a white bag. I followed her for a while wondering why the colours of the coat were massaging my memory. They remained in my mind until a few days later when I realised they reminded me of a cigarette packet. My first few years were spent living above a shop and in one corner there were shelves laden with many brands of cigarettes. Players Number 6 was one of them and I can still remember the blue shades on the packet. The woman's coat had pulled these once-popular cigarettes up from the bottom of my mind.

Players No 6 were introduced in 1965 and were Britain's best selling cigarette brand for most of the 1970s. Associated advertising claimed it was "part of the British scene" until the 1970's when smokers started to slowly wake up to the dangers of smoking. The brand was killed overnight by the EU: in 1978 the tax rules on tobacco were changed and cigarettes were taxed on their retail price rather than their weight. The brand quietly disappeared in 1993.


With an hour to kill and a canvas to fill I started mixing the two colours and spreading away with a knife. With little detail to worry about it was soon finished. I barely took any photographs. Too late now. Here it is. If you know a lifelong smoker you may want to buy this for them. In keeping with the title just call it 6,000.