This wine delivery business – it’s such a palaver…
Oh, they make it sound easy. Give your address, name the day, pick your time. But it’s so much more complicated than that.
At one time, when I worked in an office, I would have my wine delivered there. Its clanking announced its contents to all and sundry across the open-plan, and no doubt other employees thought this was evidence of a profligate lifestyle typical of senior management.
I’m luckier now, as I often work from home. But it’s only a marginal improvement to have a delivery van arrive outside one’s house, proclaiming its provenance in its paintwork. Every curtain-twitcher in the street can see you’re having a load of wine delivered, and can assemble their own little bundle of judgments as to your wealth, lifestyle and alcohol consumption.
(Later confirmed, of course, by examination of your recycling box…)
However, I can now theoretically name a day and pick a time when I will be home. And, significantly, when Mrs K will be out. So as not to trouble, unnecessarily, her concerns about infelicitous expenditure, and overindulgent consumption. The wine can then be spirited into the cellar, where its presence will not be detected amongst the bottles which are Not To Be Touched.
I have now had experience of completing several sets of merchants’ instructions for wine deliveries. Sometimes they make supposedly helpful suggestions, like “Is there a shed or garage where we could leave it if you are out?” No, there is not – because if the shed or garage had open access for deliveries, I would not be spending my money on wine, but on replacing all of my stolen tools.
Some also offer a two-and-a-half hour window during which the delivery should occur. This is all well and good, but at some point during that time I am going to have to visit the lavatory. Dare I? The last time I tried it, no sooner had business commenced than the doorbell rang. I had to yell loudly enough to be heard down on the pavement that “I’m in the toilet!”, an announcement both surprising and unnecessarily informative to several passers-by and next-door’s nanny.
This time, I was sent a very nice text, to tell me that my wine would arrive between 12 and 2.30pm.
At 11.15, the doorbell rang.
There outside the house is the emblazoned van, informing the neighbours that my consumption is now so great I must have wine delivered a dozen bottles at a time. And there inside the house is Mrs K, still working in her study.
Here’s a word of advice for couriers. Wine is like a baby – better delivered when due.
Fortunately, I was not in the toilet. Also fortunately, I was closer to the front door than Mrs K.
Speed was of the essence. “Anything to sign?” I ask brusquely, anticipating one of those ridiculous handheld electronic devices they ask you to “sign” with a stylus. (Few of us have experience of writing on glass, apart from the “yoot” who etch tags on to bus windows, and they are more likely to be recipients of a custodial sentence than a wine delivery.)
“Just this piece of paper. They asked me to have one of those electronic things, and I said, ‘How’d you expect me to hold that and a case of wine?’”
Well, let’s not get into that on my doorstep right now, thank you very much. Last month we had 15 metres of skirting board delivered, and that chap managed it, but frankly I just want to get this case inside and downstairs, before…
“Is that something for me?” Mrs K’s dulcet tones precede her steps downstairs. I am caught in the hallway, case in hands, like a dog with a string of sausages.
I think I would be pushing my luck were I to retort, “What box?”
“Ah. No. It’s just, er, a case of wine actually…”
“Oh! A case of wine. A case.”
This emphasis does not mean that she suffers any category confusion about the actual concept of a case of wine. No; it is to convey that to her, “case” suggests a suspect level of both consumption and expenditure.
Fortunately, my salvation is staring me in the face – almost literally, since I still have a case of wine clutched to my chest. On the top of the box is a sticker. In most cases, I would be embarrassed by it, since obviously I aspire to be the kind of person whose cases are labelled something like “12 x Latour”. However, this one reads “Under £6 Reds”.
I gesture towards it with my chin. Mrs K observes, then moves on, with a departing, descending “Hmmm…” which, roughly translated, means “Alright this time…”.
I take the case downstairs, and stash my embarrassingly cheap bottles away. But I wonder:
Why not save us all a load of trouble, and put those stickers on every case…?