Thursday 26 March 2020

An isolated problem

Well, this is a little bit annoying.

As the more perceptive (or less understandably preoccupied) amongst you might remember, I was away for my last post. Mrs K and I were in Amsterdam, and returned just as the world slammed shut behind us. So I see little point now in writing about the travel-sized bottles of wine I took, which you can no longer get out to buy to drink with a meal you can’t assemble to take on a train which isn’t running to a country which is closed. The very words “travel-sized” now seem as nostalgic as “cigarette holder”.

Instead, I am sitting inside, and blocking out larger worries by fretting about the order in which to drink my way through my cellar.

Full marks to those merchants who are continuing home deliveries of wine. But I would be embarrassed myself, when my neighbours are getting critical deliveries of food and medicines, by the appearance of a wine merchant’s van. Who wants to advertise that they’re still downing wine, when others are surviving hand to mouth? (Although hopefully they’re not actually touching their mouth with their hand…)

Perhaps wine merchants could avoid this by rebranding their delivery vans as something more currently acceptable? Berry and Citrus Fruits Bros, perhaps. Majestically Deep Home Cleansing. Laith Fitness Weights.

Despite the protestations of Mrs K, I have but a modest cellar. I realise, in fact, that I may have been aggrandising what now seems a meagre collection of wine by even calling it a cellar. And most of that is not meant for everyday drinking. It is reserved for grand occasions, like significant birthdays, which I now realise only happen every, oh, sixty, seventy years. For visits from members of the Privy Council, which for some reason never actually seem to occur. And are clearly even less likely than never to occur in the coming weeks.

One problem, however, is the lack of a timescale. How long does my cellar have to last? On the one hand, perhaps I should be rationing my consumption in order to stretch it out. But on the other, if this really is the end of days, then you can stuff your recommended daily units.

There’s one argument which says that if this could be my last ever spell of drinking – which, let’s face it, is more likely than it was last month – I should start on the good stuff, to make sure I drink it before I go. Never has the saying “Life’s too short to drink bad wine” seemed more potentially appropriate.

But would I enjoy it, imagining that each bottle could be my last? And what will it accompany? I was always a bit dismissive about “pairing” wines with my customary fish fingers, sausages et al, but at least I had fish fingers and sausages. Oh, to have the issue again of considering what to drink with baked beans!

And if I drink the good stuff, what would I then have to look forward to? Imagine coming out the other side of all this, with only a few bottles of grot? There must come a day when all of this clears – “unlock-down” perhaps they will call it – and what if I had nothing then with which to celebrate?

Worse, I may develop a habit of regularly drinking old clarets, top-notch Riojas and reasonable if not quite Super Tuscans. My finances could never sustain that full time. I could face a situation in which, after “the tide turns” (© Boris Johnson), I have existed on very basic food and very good wine, a pairing which it might be difficult to reverse.

But I am already beginning to run low on the supermarket stuff. And embarrassing as the arrival of a wine merchant’s van might be, worse still, surely, to emerge from a beleagured supermarket, passing a patient, socially distanced queue, pushing a trolley laden with budget booze.

So I have already drunk a suspect Italian red that someone must have left here as a gift. I am finding surprisingly appealing the sight of the acidic sauvignon blanc I had left in the fridge for cooking.

“And worse I may be yet: the worst is not/So long as we can say 'This is the worst.’”


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