All in By Ken Gargett - 2017
For some unfathomable reason, I do love travelling. The divinities-that-be obviously love me travelling as well, because that means they can have endless fun at my expense.
A few months back, the Lions rugby tour to New Zealand was on. A great event.
A lovely day, looking out over a glorious cobalt ocean and writing about a 60-vintage tasting of the great Wynn’s Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet, has just been spoilt by that blow-up doll who runs North Korea. News is through that apparently, he wants to drop a nuke on Guam. Haven’t we been through this before? Way to be a downer! I really liked Guam for the short time I was there. Felt like I was on the set of Magnum PI. And one imagines that if he does, the ageing Mr Burns on the other side of the planet is going to ensure that NK becomes one large smouldering crater and turn what little tourism they have into a few scientists in white onesies with madly-crackling Geiger counters.
Did I mention I like travelling? Talk about that I should know better than to open my mouth too soon. Though in fairness, I don’t really consider the annual weekend away for Mum and the family, “travelling”. We normally find a farmhouse or something of that ilk (and apologies to those curious members of the forum for whom the word ‘ilk’ apparently has evil connations, though I have no idea why it should) and spend three or four days there. Always nice to get away with the family.
This week’s fun topic – funerals.
Yes, it is all Bordeaux and skittles here at Kenfessions. I will say that I was very fortunate when it came to my father’s, many years ago. I honestly could not see how I could get through it, but it turned out to be almost inspiring and uplifting. Well, as much as possible in the circumstances. Had eulogies from two of his oldest and closest friends. One did the professional and family stuff. The other took the piss. Dad would have loved it. I still have mates who say it was the best funeral they have ever attended, if there can be such a thing.
So, a B grade Hollywood actress, pretending to be a legal secretary in a dodgy drama, is to marry His Royal Highness, Prince Henry of Wales, 5th in line to the British throne, assuming Europe doesn’t get that in the Brexit divorce. The greatest act of social climbing this century and perhaps second only to that short fat bloke nabbing Grace Kelly. Good on you, Harry, blokes everywhere salute you. You are definitely coming up in the world.
November 11th. A momentous day in history.
In Australia, it has relevance for two reasons. More recently, in 1975, it was the day when the Gov-Gen, Sir John Kerr, sobered up long enough to sack the elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. I know people think we have divisive politics today (and I am not crossing the pond with this), but for those who do not remember (and I was only a kid back then, but it is eternally imprinted on my mind), today is kindergarten stuff compared to back then. Looking back, I deplore the manner of the dismissal, but like the vast majority of Australians, thought it was necessary for Gough to go before he damaged the country any further (not that I had a vote).
The clock has just ticked over to 8am. I sit here typing, currently a glass of Piper Heidsieck matched with Hamlet’s latest, his ‘25th Anniversary’ Robusto. There is a fresh breeze off the Pacific Ocean. I’m on the balcony at Waddy Lodge on Fraser Island on the annual mates’ fishing trip. Always one of the great weeks of the year, though in recent times, more and more of the guys have decided, that the actual fishing component is a bridge too far and little fishing is getting done. Still great fun.
A fair chance that very few of us could honestly say we have never done anything stupid. And there is also a good chance of alcohol being involved. But it is a little tough to blame the alcohol itself. Stupid is… (and to my horror, I think I might have just paraphrased a gun-nut argument, but it is different and we are not going down that track). But, after all, what sort of a boring world would this be without alcohol?
Last time, red wine and cigars.
In the interim, a lot of support for various rums and cognacs, but red wine still has its apostles. Last time, to be fair, it was a good red with an average cigar. This time, why not ratchet things up a notch. A great cigar and a brilliant wine. And as first reserve on the bench, a very fine beer (or rather a stout) I love.
Red wine and fish? Red wine and cigars?
If one works as a wine critic, a common question (or indeed, a common request from editors) is what works with this wine or that one? My feeling has always been that if you enjoy both, chances are you’ll be happy. Sometimes a match will be a clanger, diminishing both; far more often, you’ll be happy with both, even if they do not really work as a brilliant match; occasionally, either the food or wine will lift the other; and just now and then, the two will take each other to heights unimaginable by themselves. I suspect that cigars and drinks are not much different.
We all have them. Those singles that roll around the humidor waiting for some suitable time or reason to smoke them. Most likely, if you are like me, you’ve long forgotten where they came from or just why they are still here.
I’ve been doing the Aussie/Kiwi end of the Best Wine in the World competition for what seems ages now (you can vote on your faves – www.tastingbook.com) and decided to disappear down to a little place the family has on the northern NSW coast to catch up on other work done, sans distractions. Took me half a day to finish up with stuff in Brizzy, pack the car, water the plants and so forth. A bit under two hours’ drive.
National Bourbon day. Who would have thought it? I saw it mentioned on the forum so I thought, for this match, I would pull out the only bottle of Blanton’s I have – something I intend to rectify soon – and a lone cigar that just might need smoking.
Ever had a situation where, through the blind and near unforgivable stupidity of a mate, you’ve lost 150 bottles of Romanee-Conti? Or 150 Picasso sketches? And worse, you picked these treasures up for a mere fraction of their true value?
If you think that it is tough to arrive at a consensus on a cigar, it is many more times so to form any sort of agreement over matching a cigar with a drink, but that is half the fun. First, select your cigar. Then, depending on the circumstances, time of day, weather, company, music and a great many other variables, pick a drink (or not if you prefer).