More than 50 years of drinking around the globe. Some of it louche. Some of it formal tasting. Most of it dodgy memory bytes recalling encounters with wine and the wonderful souls involved in making it, selling it and consuming it.
Dazed by a modern world that dismisses honest thought as “fake news”, Clive James’ recent demise spurred me to record some unreliable history while I was still able to recall any of it. Clive was an inspiration to many of us who wished to find the spot where literacy intersected with (often but not always hilarious) japes. Few have attained the heights of Unreliable Memoirs*, which crept up on us in the early 80s, gaining momentum as its author’s fame grew as a TV presenter.
Of course, I am not a TV presenter. Just a retired 70s reporter who looked up to a legend. When the Beeb re-ran the late legend’s Postcard from Sydney a few months ago and visited an old mate I found myself being reinvigorated. His friend was Len Evans, a winemaker in the Hunter Valley. I had dreamed of recording a few wine exploits when I retired. Some of Clive’s capers, albeit exquisitely drawn, had some parallels with my own.
Could I call it Unreliable Memoirs of Wine? I wouldn’t dare; I hope my current effort at a title doesn’t sail too close to that wind.
Returning to the “fake news”, it is my opinion that it is a liberally applied fake epithet used mostly by arseholes trying to wriggle off hooks of their own making. Sadly, if repeated enough by the biggest arseholes these things become adopted into our lexicon. Don’t get me started about “IMHO”. The H in that epithet is fake news itself in the vast majority of cases.
My anecdotes are mostly unsupported by fact. The opinions are my own and I consequently refuse to be humble about them. If anyone reading these texts is offended by this approach, please accept that they stem from the heart.
I may say I do/don’t like/approve of something/someone. It reflects a completely subjective but honest impression of my own. My friends, mostly those who call me “Banj/Banjo/Spook” etc. don’t do it to cause offence; well maybe just a little bit. I reserve the right to retaliate. Furthermore, if I opine that, for example, a wine/vista/plate of food/book was of less than 5-star quality, it has only been rated that way to leave room for creations that are perfect in every way.
Cheers Clive, a superb raconteur with a “colonial” dash of scepticism
Coming next: Early days. Humble beginnings and how digging around in the rapidly diminishing mental archives may or may not lead to some serious research into a thread linking cheap plonk with some truly splendid Chenin Blanc in the Cape today.
* © Clive James 1980
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