I had intended keeping this tale of embarrassment and stupidity to myself, but since everyone in my local seems to think that it’s absolutely hilarious I may as well entertain all of you lot at my expense as well.
I think it was on Tuesday last that the rain finally fell, washing away most of the snow and ice and meaning, for the first time in almost a month, that walking was an activity less dangerous than, say, bomb disposal. We had no wine left in our house (dunno, I think it evaporates at room temperature) so I decided to go to the pub. Mrs Tin, who had a lot of chick-films that she wanted to plough her way through, declined to join me, so off I set on my own.
I did notice that at some places on the road the ice had been so thick that it hadn’t quite melted yet, so little islands of it lay here and there, as if people had cut the icing off their Christmas cake and thrown into the street. These were easily avoided, however, so I went to the pub, met some friends and had a very pleasant time. At some stage I thought of Mrs Tin, sitting at home more sober than a football fan at the Qatar World Cup, so I asked the owner did he sell wines by the bottle that I could take home to her. Since take-away wine from a pub tends to be extremely expensive, and since the owner of my local is a decent bloke, he suggested not buying the wine but simply taking some home and replacing it with something similar the next time I was in. I asked for two bottles, he put them into a paper bag, and when I was leaving I took them home with me.
It was raining quite hard when I left, so hard in fact that I put up my umbrella for the first time in weeks, and with the umbrella in one hand and the bag in the other I walked home, head down. I had just reached to end of our road, which I have mentioned before is very steep, when I stood on a little patch of ice. I shot forward onto the ground – and one of the bottles of wine broke.
I lay there for about twenty seconds, face pressed against possibly the only piece of ice left in Northern Europe, yet with rain pouring onto the back of my head. My arms and legs were spread, a line of red liquid was trickling away from my body down the hill, and all I needed was a chalk outline to have auditioned for a role (a very brief one, obviously) in CSI.
I must be honest with you all, who know so much about me, that I did seriously consider just staying lying there, forever. Eventually, though I dragged myself up and limped (my left knee is still very swollen, even now) the last fifty yards to my house. I know you’re all miles ahead of me here, but I may as well set my shame out in print. I reached the front door, juggled umbrella, bag and house-key for a couple of seconds, and dropped the other bottle of wine.
From inside the house the noise must have been deafening, and Mrs Tin rushed to the door, afraid perhaps that someone had smashed our car window, or that I fallen in through our glass front door. I told her what had happened and she said it didn’t matter, she didn’t need wine, but by now self-anger at my own stupidity had taken over from rational thought. I had wanted to bring her home wine, and I was going to bring her home wine. I set off on the half-mile walk back to the pub again.
I didn’t bother with the umbrella, I was too bloody fed-up, and those lucky enough to be in the bar when I burst through the door still laugh every time they tell yet another person about the state I was in. My hair was matted to my head and rain poured off my coat like a fountain.
There was no-one behind the counter and one brave customer said “the bar’s closed, Tinman”.
“No, it isn’t,” I growled.
“Look, it’s ten past eleven, there’s no way he’ll serve any more drink,” my friend ventured.
“He’ll fuckin’ serve me,” I said.
The owner arrived out from the back room at this point, held up a hand as if to point towards the clock, then saw the expression on my face and put it down again. Picture Jack Nicholson’s expression in The Shining, then imagine what he’d have looked like if, just as he put his face to the hole in the door, he’d been bitten on the arse by a rabid Alsatian.
“Dropped the wine,” was all I said.
Wordlessly he put two more bottles in a bag and I slouched home, safely this time. By now Mrs Tin had gone to bed, so I drank the wine myself.
There are wine-writers all over the world who are more gifted at describing wine than I am. They write things like:
Lovingly picked from the south-facing vines of this richly-soiled region, the grapes are gently pressed by the beautiful feet of nubile young maidens before being allowed to mature in oak barrels in a cool, dim cavern. The wine is decanted into hand-crafted bottles, the cork is inserted by blow-pipe and the resultant wine tastes of both fire and ice, with a nose redolent of warm sunny summer days, wortleberry and Imperial Leather soap (look, I only said they write things like this, I didn’t say it was word for word).
Anyway, there’s not a writer on earth who would have described this wine in those terms. If I were a wine writer my review would be what I believe they call fruity, and would run thus:
This wine is called CYP, it’s from Chile, and now I know how the Chilean miners disposed of their pee during their ordeal.
And of course I’d to buy four bottles of wine to replace this gunk.
So there’s my tale of wine and woe. And the wishes?
Well, they’re for all of you. I wish all of you all the very best for 2011. Thank you all for reading, thank you all for commenting, thank you all for caring.
Happy New Year to all of you.