Sweet Virginia            Brian Hooper, February 2007
He was sitting on a bench outside the General
As I parked my bike and took my helmet off
And he called to me to say, he used to ride a BSA
But he had to pack it in, it made him cough.
He said his lovely wife had gone before him.
He said, I keep her ashes in a little chest
And when at last I've caught her, I've asked our eldest daughter
If she'll scatter us together down beside the River Test.
It was cigarettes that took her and they'll do the same for me
Though they always seemed a good thing for the town;
The smell of sweet Virginia drifting over Regents Park
And now the old tobacco factory's closing down.
He said I reckon if it wasn't for tobacco
Churchill would have never won the war
And Sherlock Holmes would never have been so bloomin' clever
And she might not have died so premature.
And Bizet would have never written Carmen
Ophelia might have picked another man
And I'd not sit here mourning 'cause we didn't heed the warning
But I'd still be all alone without a Strand.
It was cigarettes that took her and they'll do the same for me …
He said if Raleigh hadn't brought his duty-frees back
To please the Queen and earn her grateful thanks
Well, later in the day, they would have got here anyway
But at least we could have blamed the bloomin' Yanks.
She wasn't what you'd call a raving beauty
But we loved each other, faithful down the years
Now she's waiting by the gates, with a pack of Players Weights
And with any luck she's been to get the beers.
It was cigarettes that took her and they'll do the same for me …
The man in this song really existed, although he didn’t say all the things I’ve attributed to him here.  He did introduce me to the urn containing his wife’s ashes, though, and told how she loved her cigarettes.  His daughter rang me the day after I first sang this song, to tell me he’d died.  Given what I’d written in the first verse, that was a bit spooky!
British American Tobacco had a factory in Regents Park, Southampton, for many years.  It ceased production of cigarettes toward the end of 2006.