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2009-08-05 15.43.38 (2)

Ever get the feeling that what you say, write, do, or fundamentally believe, may not make an iota of difference? That the castle you have lovingly and meticulously constructed sits, rather infirmly, on some granular colloid hydrogel.

I sell wine for a living. Not just any old plonk mark you, but handcrafted wines, made by people who care deeply and passionately about their product, and spend my time telling others how great they are. That’s a damn sight harder than making the stuff, believe me.

The comedian Steven Wright once said that ‘If a man tells a joke in a forest, but nobody laughs, is it really a joke’.

Well that’s me. It’s my joke and my forest but most folk don’t know me, the location of my forest, if my forest actually exists, or if my joke was even funny in the first place.

So I am condemned to repeat myself, like History, Kevin Peterson, the diehard fans of Margaret Thatcher and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the elderly, or the revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the middle ages. Constantly, but rarely endearingly, reminding others what terrible mistakes they are making and the threateningly imminent proximity of the apocalypse.

Let’s reign my hobbyhorse closer to home. The VOR and I recently spent an evening with some old friends and I thought I would offer up the kind of wines they don’t normally drink as a bit of a treat. C was ecstatic, but her husband’s reaction surprised me. This erudite, creative, academic openly and frankly opined that he ‘didn’t care much about wine’ and that his only requirement was that it came in a large, and perpetually refilled, glass. The fact that he is not alone in his opinion only exacerbates my flying dutchman syndrome.

Like the late Curtis Mayfield, I just keep on keeping on about the cocacolarisation of wine. The homogenisation. The fauxthenticity. The dominance of the same five grape varieties (at the expense and detriment of others) branded and rebranded, packaged and repackaged, from giant polypropylene bag to dockside bottling plant. Don’t get me wrong, as an artist and illustrator, I’m a sucker for a groovy label but it’s important that what’s in the bottle isn’t s***e!

A mere five percent of the British public currently buys its wine from an independent merchant. The majority prefer the multiples. You know, the kind of stores that sell brands even Tiresias would struggle to tell apart. But as another old friend succinctly put it ‘At least they have free parking’.

‘And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually’ – Jimi Hendrix