Thursday 8 August 2013

Waitrose Australian Red, Smooth & Spicy - William Burroughs

While CJ is away, we take this opportunity to publish an appreciation of the Waitrose Australian Red ('Smooth and Spicy'), £4.99 a bottle, written by the late William Burroughs shortly before his death in 1997. 

Known principally for his numerous drug addictions, Burroughs was also an occasional user of budget supermarket wines. Devotees of The Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine will observe that, although this is one of Burroughs' last writings, it recalls those earlier works in both idiom and tonality.


Insect eyes watch painful in junk dawn - river smell rises in a mist, rotting vegetation, black mud like iron - Under the lights a Matron in blue denim screams, her face green with rage, 'I HAVE TO HAVE IT! IT'S ON ORDER!' - ghetto clerk scuttles away, pyrethrum addiction, his fingers rotting - wind in an alley - a truck reverses

My name is Dr Benway, surgical extremes, spectral dismemberments, you need to ask? Every time they come in, Dr Benway they say, it's the last words they ever hear. You want my advice? Shiraz grape, pendulous, that to-and-fro motion, junk sickness, it arrives by ship. Oven heat of the interior. Who says no? I will not stand for it! My professional reputation is on the line!

Junkie fingers on the neck of the bottle...'Oh, I'm saying smooth, I'm saying spicy, that party ended. Sonofabitch!'...shrill hooker voice in mescaline air...the river slows...'And he wants five bucks! Five!'...whiplash of neon, the bottle descends, red bulb blooming...a junkie dissolves - 'I wanted white, white, I got two quarters'...Yesterday he inspected my file. Took a cab across town, spoke to PK, Max, the Black Salamander, all the usuals. Four p.m. the clock jumps, he's sitting on the other side of the table.

'I make you a price,' he says. His eyes are dead. 'You want to connect?' He slides a single penny across the table. 'Remember Liz in Chi? She died. Zen weightlessness, it was not pretty. For you, I make it.' I remember bedbugs jumping from flowered wallpaper in a fifth floor hotel room. 'But don't make the glass dirty. I can't stand that. The Inspectorate calls, they find a red glass, I'm Pen Indef. Hanging from a door.'

...a young man with switchblade eyes, fingering the till...oil heat comes off at this time...ecstasy, withered hand on the bottleneck, the veins like a map...even the Scandanavians died...

WR (Gesturing ineffectually): 'You want it better? At these prices?'
JUNK BOY (Cynically): 'You have it, you don't sell it.'
WR: 'I have to listen to this? It makes me sad.'

He lights a cigarette, blows smoke coolly towards a ziggurat of black market painkillers.

WR: 'I sell it to you for what it costs. I live on the streets. It's not so bad. Give it air. Don't force it.'

...oven heat...Southern Cross image shattered on black oil settling in a glass...the red bloom swells...spectral mists rising, the smell of tarpaulins and leaves...acid in the back of the throat...puckered...the execution will be at four p.m...a Mercedes-Benz departs, its fender dragging...sanatorium Matron at the wheel, eyes of a cuttlefish...the paint is blistered and coarse...

The party has been cancelled.



  1. Gosh..... If WB had to review a Lidl Australian Red (£3.99, take your pick from Shiraz or Cabernet S) the result would be incomprehensible.

  2. Best one ever!

    Mind you, they're all pretty good. I laughed so much that my lunchtime Blossom Hill ran down my nose.


  3. Now I know what to drink with a naked lunch... sorry, get me coat and all that

  4. Normal tasting notes are dead to me now. Can you do Euripides next?

    1. "Wine is a terrible foe, hard to wrestle with." - The Cyclops

  5. Shame WB never got to Netto. He would then have been able to use that Q & A, what is yellow and black and full of shit? A Netto carrier bag!


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