Thursday, 24 October 2013

Rovering to Success - Grenache Vin De Pays D'Oc

So I'm feeling a trifle jaded and liverish, taking into account all the wine boxes and easy-drinking Waitrose mouthwash I've been consuming, and what do I do but turn to that trustiest of vade mecums, Lord Baden-Powell's deeply formative Rovering to Success, for a bit of manly counsel?

For anyone who's spent the best part of his life living under a rock, and I know you're there somewhere, Baden-Powell started the Scout Movement in the early 1900s, publishing his legendary Scouting for Boys in 1908. This handy little volume is apparently the fourth best-selling book of the entire twentieth century, with some 150 million copies shifted; while the Scout Movement - well, that's into its second century, and is as blithe and character-forming as ever, and if you don't care for it, that's your business. But bear with me: the thing I'm particularly keen on is this Rovering to Success (1922) - a guide written for young men rather than mere lads, in which Lord Baden-Powell explains how to cope with the pitfalls of adult life and emerge all the stronger from one's tribulations.

As such, it is divided up into five handy sections:

I. Horses
II. Wine
III. Women
IV. Cuckoos and Humbugs
V. Irreligion

To be perfectly frank, I've only paid any attention to sections II and III, but I'm sure the others are spot-on. The section on Women contains (inter alia) much useful description of the centre of a flower's pistil, the development of a chick in embryo, the care of one's teeth, the imperishable line 'Constipation and neglect to keep the racial organ cleaned daily are apt to cause slight irritation which leads to trouble' (my italics), and a jolly handy picture (see picture) which, as the proverb has it, is worth a thousand words. But I digress.

On the all-important subject of Wine, Lord Baden-Powell is typically to the point. He hardly mentions it at all. 'I like a glass of good wine,' he tells us, 'for its flavour, its colour and refreshment.' The rest of the chapter on wine is spent telling us not to drink, especially not that dreaded Third Glass, since 'The sugars and other chemicals contained in the liquor don't in the end do you great good.' After that, it's a succession of cautionary tales involving 'The Between-Meals Glass', 'Temptation To Good Fellowship', and 'The Solitary Soaker' (he 'sinks lower into a sodden existence as a waster and outcast, till death comes and puts him out', since you ask).

After that, our Chief Scout rather lets himself go, taking it upon himself to condemn 'Smoking', 'Over-Feeding', 'Over-Sleeping' and 'Over-Strength In Language', before striking a more optimistic posture with sections on 'Self-Control', 'Truthfulness' and, somewhat unnervingly, 'Auto-Suggestion', in which he announces that 'Self-mastery has now become a scientific study.' Well, it's not for me to say whether it has or hasn't. The very idea has a ring of Continental sharp practice about it, but if B-P says that it has its uses, then I must keep my counsel.

At any rate, after a good session of Self-Mastery, Self-Control and Self-Cure, plus a hearty tramp on clear, open, downland, I now feel an entirely new man. Liverish no more. One hundred per cent improved. And to celebrate my restored condition, I have been treating myself to a very self-controlled bottle of Grenache vin de pays d'Oc, suitably light and astringent, which is now onto its third day, still with a bit left in the bottle, a testimony to my capacity to know when enough's enough. In passing, I should mention that this wine tally does not take into account the enormous quantity of generic Sauvignon Blanc I have also been drinking in the last few days, as I do not consider white wine to be a drink at all; and is therefore not applicable.

I hope this clears the matter up. I remain

Yours Ever

CJ




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