Sensual pleasures, guilty and otherwise

The drinking life – and in my case to a subsidiary degree the eating life – is, I increasingly find, a haphazard and, thanks something like God, a marvellous one. Earlier this evening, settling down with supper on my sofa, my two dogs having amicably and obscurely sorted out which of them was to lie under my feet, I had fended off an invitation from a friend to celebrate St Patrick’s Day by a visit to a local brewery. (Apparently, if one wore something green, apart from underwear, one got some special benefit – presumably a discount on the overpriced beer.)

St Patrick’s Day? Huh? Wesley told me that the said saint’s day was on March 17. When was that? I wondered, panicking. Turned out it was today. I wasn’t wearing anything green (no need to check my underwear, it’s inevitably doomy black). He’s a nice friend, and accepted with good grace yet another excuse; this time that I was having an unfashionably early dinner, though I had to explain what it was (and I won’t bore anyone else with the details). The other part of my excuse – cleverly, but of course totally honestly, explaining why I couldn’t join him a bit later – was that I intended to get drunk. It’s been, by my low standards, a busy week.

In fact I’ve had a lovely time alone with food and wine this evening, with the two dogs fairly amicably shifting station under my feet. Crucially, I was thoroughly enjoying reading (and when I enjoy reading it’s a vastly greater enjoyment, I’ve come to realise, than when I’m watching even a great bit of Nordic or American TV series stuff). I’m at present immersed in an obscure autobiographical work by the Brit writer VS Pritchett, called “Midnight Oil”. (I know it must be obscure, as I found it in the “Basement store” of the UCT library.)

The main wine – delightfully recherché and rare, but not exactly obscure – was a brilliant accompaniment to some highly-flavoured pasta: Adi Badenhorst’s sherry-style wine (“Non-vintage Natural Pale”), grandly and obscurely called John Strikes Back From Under a Veil of Good Fortune. Oh, how I enjoyed it, though, tragically, it was a pathetically mingy 375 ml bottle. It left me, as it were, thirsting. With cheese, a glass of Tobias Red 2011, which I’d opened last night, was OK – though I wasn’t quite up to judiciously resolving whether it was already a bit past its best, as had occurred to me when I opened it last night. It was Ok (though there’s plenty left in the bottle).

I was desperate for some more bite. Do you, fellow drinker, know what I mean? I’ve stopped keeping decent brandy in the house as I drink more of it, too easily, than I should. But that’s what I wanted. I dug around and, praise be to the aforementioned “something like God”, I found an opened bottle of Robertson Co-op’s William Robertson Finest Five Year Old Brandy. I’m sure it would be lovely with Coke, and in fact it did the trick to accompany some raisins swimming in cream (oh, I love cream almost as much as I love spirits, which no doubt explains my shameful devotion to such appalling concoctions as Amarula Cream – on this occasion not available, which is no doubt a good thing for my figure an my threatening diabetes).

But at least it drew a line, and now I’m finished. Slightly deflated. Slightly fascinated by the fact that I feel a rare impulsion to write, and also by the fact that (I think) I can do so coherently. Pritchett, a few pages back, wrote of an occasion when he wrote something while drunk and said that he learnt never to repeat the experiment. Well. VSP achieved a literary renown I never shall, and might even have done so not entirely sober if he too had had the kindly help of MS Word, which assures me by a severe red underline that that the only problematical phrase in the above (after an admitted lot of retyping) is “Adi Badenhorst”. (Surely that’s a name that Word should recognise!) “Non vintage” was underlined in blue, but I remedied that with a hypocritical hyphen.

Perhaps a wine critic in his cups needs a program that will underline references to unacceptable pleasures. It could ask things like: Do you really want to admit to your tiny readership that you found that terrible brandy satisfying to your itch, and that you secretly lust after Amarula? But my computer is sufficiently dominant. I’m grateful that it alerts me to spelling and grammatical mistakes. That’s enough. My wild excursions into incorrect sensual pleasures must remain my own errors, thanks.

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