A few days ago, preparing for a social evening with friends I opened, well, “tapped” I suppose, a 5 litre box of wine. This action, compounded with a recent viewing of Simon Reeve’s travelogue about Australia, set my little brain into contemplation mode about how my, and, I presume other peoples, attitude to wine has changed over the recent decades.
“When I were a lad” in Rhodesia, bars and shops were stocked mainly with beers and spirits, but very few wines, despite neighbouring South Africa being a major wine producer. Wine “buffs” (or “snobs” in real speak) insisted that wine was only stored and sold in bottles with “quercus suber” (cork oak) stoppers, and, after opening, allowed to “breathe” for exactly 2 hours 37 minutes and 11 seconds before it was suitable to be sipped!
Now, while that technique may well have suited (say) a vintage 1947 Pol Roger de-Nuits- Saint- Georges or whatever, perfectly palatable wines are now being sold in bottles that are screw or plastic capped as well as, SHOCK, HORROR, in boxes! Good heavens Caruthers, we will definitely have to bring back hanging!
I don’t know who dreamt up the idea of “boxing”, rather than “bottling” wines, but what a marvellous concept for a vineyard capable of mass production! Firstly, transporting a number of symmetrical rectangular boxes in a symmetrical container, such as a lorry or container ship means that there is none of the “wasted” space that would exist if bottles with necks were being transported.
Secondly, customer convenience, a 5 litre box of wine weighs far less than 5 litre bottles of wine and is far less liable to break if dropped!
Incidentally, wine-making is an ancient art. Within the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Holy bible, Noah is recorded as the first vintner! After the “Great Flood” had receded, Noah became a farmer and (presumably as well as other crops) planted a vineyard. OK, the bible states that he became drunk on his product and therefore fell into sleep during the afternoon (thereby inventing the Spanish “siesta”?), but no doubt he enjoyed it!
Anyway, back to wine, or rather the production of it. The travelogue presenter, Simon Reeve, visited a wine-growing area in southern Australia. One (and only one) of the many major wine producers stated that he produced between 20-25 million bottles of wine each year. Great, super, fantastic! However, he admitted that during a twelve-month period he irrigated his vines with “millions” of gallons of water, the equivalent of 60-70 centimetres (that is 2 feet or more for readers who still use “old” measures) of rainfall! Some of this water may seep back to the water table, but how long will the irrigation systems in this rain-challenged (my wording to describe an arid, semi-desert region for the politically correct!) area of Australia be viable?
By this I mean that every bottle of wine that is exported away from an area such as the Murray-Darling rivers catchment area means that a bottle worth of “water/wine” isn’t returned to the local water table of that area by natural processes after passing through the digestive systems of human beings! However, despite being a bit of an eco-warrior, I don’t want the exportation of affordable and palatable wines into my favourite supermarket to be stopped!
While on the subject of affordable and palatable wine, some years ago, our daughter Sasha and son-in-law Jon carried out a rather lengthy and in-depth survey and analysis of affordable wines that were available in the Cardiff (Wales) area. They found out that, in the vast majority of cases, a £5 bottle of wine had twice the flavour and body of wines that sold for £2.50. However, only very few of the £10 bottles of wine had twice the taste and body of the £5 ones!
I recently read in the UK press that a 75 (yes, 75!) year old pensioner has not been taken to court to face the charge of “causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress”! Really, Caruthers we absolutely must bring back hanging!
The pensioner’s “heinous” offence apparently occurred when he was departing from Stansted airport to fly to Spain for a holiday. During the security procedures before boarding the aircraft he was asked to remove his shoes. While complying with this request he is reported to have asked “I am not a Muslim am I? I don’t know if his tone was jocular or irascible, but one of the security guards called him a racist and called the police because he, (the security guard), was “upset by the remark”!
Although the pensioner was allowed to go on his holiday, he was arrested and charged on his return to the UK. From that time onward, the pensioner lived under the cloud and stress of an impending court case. The time span between his arrest and his not being put on trial is reported to be “over 200” days. In other words his “cloud and stress” lasted for 7 months! In fact, according to the press report, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) only “dropped” the case the day before he was due to appear in court! The reason for not proceeding with the case was stated as “lack of evidence”!
There may well have been a valid reason why, in the 7 month period between arrest and theoretical court appearance, there was a “lack of evidence”. Perhaps the affronted security guard had joined the jihadists in Iraq/Syria and therefore wasn’t available for a court appearance? However, if there had been no change either in the circumstances or the participants in the “offence” why did it take so long for the CPS to decide not to prosecute?
Whether the newspaper report was accurate and unbiased or not, I am concerned (on behalf of the British tax-payer) that so much time and money has been spent on this “storm in a teacup”. Perhaps the security guard felt genuinely affronted, but possibly all he wanted was an apology, which was rudely rebuffed. After all a man in his mid-seventies is not necessarily a sweet, cuddly, adorable little old man! If neither party would “give ground”, then a situation would develop that simply “snowballed” out of control and proportion!
What also concerns me is that, even in a politically correct British legislation against “causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress” exists! To my mind, the existence of such a law is, in itself, racist! Any person who invokes this law against another person is, by definition, being racist by taking legal action! Just a thought!
While on the subject of Britain, my attention was caught by the good news contained in a report made by the environmental and conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report stated that, during the month of October, the “renewable” energy sources of wind and solar panel farms created enough electricity not only to satisfy that nations need, but also was able to export some! Scotland has a population of around 5,300,000, while Kibris has a population of only around 300,000. Scotland may have had an unusually sunny October, but I bet a pound to a penny (or a lira to a kuruş!) that, over a 12 month period we have enough sunny days to generate enough electricity by using solar panels to supply the needs of this small nation.
By the time this edition of “Kibkom Times” has been published, two “remembrance” ceremonies will have been held. One, on 11th November, probably “celebrated” worldwide, will commemorate Armistice Day in 1918, effectively ending World War One, which began in 1914 – one hundred years ago. Britain sent a portion of her small regular army, a few thousand troops, to meet a far larger and superior German army. Although initially suffering ignominious defeats, the German advance was finally halted by the British and French armies. In those days, the British had steely eyes, jutting jaws and stiff upper lips. Makes you proud to be British, eh Caruthers?
There was also a commemoration held locally in Girne on 8th November. This was the unveiling of a memorial honouring the memory of 62 policemen who were killed by the Greek and Greek Cypriot terrorist organisation – EOKA – between 1955 and 1960. As the entire island of Cyprus was, at that time under British rule all of them, 18 British, 25 Turkish Cypriot, 17 Greek Cypriot, 1 Maronite and 1 Maltese, were in the service of the “British Crown”.
However, in 2014, that same “crown” in the form of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has forbidden any formal attendance or representation of the British crown at the ceremony. Apparently this is because they don’t want to upset the Greek Cypriots who don’t recognise the “illegal occupied area in the north” nor the tender feelings of a handful of the delicate little descendents of the murderers of these policemen! Are you still proud of being British Caruthers?
Personally, I believe that the Greek Cypriots were more concerned about drawing attention to the activities of EOKA than anything else. After the island of Cyprus was granted independence from Britain, EOKA turned its tender mercies on the Turkish Cypriot population. Therefore this organisation, comprising of Greek and Greek Cypriot thugs and murderers was directly and solely responsible for the Turkish peace intervention and the division of the island! However, working on the principle that “the bigger the lie and the more often it is told, so it becomes believable” EOKA has been airbrushed out of history and the Turks have been branded as the aggressors!
While on the subject of “local” news, a few developments have taken place recently. Firstly, although Israel does not officially recognise the TRNC, our Foreign Minister, Özdil Nami was invited to attend and even speak at a two-day energy and business convention in Tel Aviv.
Secondly, after visiting Athens, Ankara and both North and South Cyprus, the United Nations Special Envoy is reported on the radio news to have said “Everyone knows that the Turkish Cypriots are prepared to sit at the negotiation table, but the Greek Cypriots aren’t”!
Have the United Nations finally employed someone who is not only prepared to see the intransigence of the Greek Cypriots, but also has the courage to say so?
More next week folks!