11 October 2018
The Curse Of Abstinence
Loss of a deal.
By Count Chin
Shh, Readers, it’s me again, slipping in an article under the noses of the editors without their spotting it. Good name too, don’t you think? Nobody would think of me being a count. At least that’s what I thought until yesterday when I knocked over that chap’s drink in the pub. He used my new title right away. Perhaps I knocked the drink over in the manner of a French or German aristocrat. My grandmother was a maid in a Bohemian Castle, so you never know. Blue blood always shows through. Still, here I am, “inconnu” as you might say, just like the Scarlet Pimpernel pretending to be Sir Percy Blakeney.
I return to you at a moment of public crisis as those who read this morning’s news will have seen. Apparently, 30% of the younger generation do not drink alcohol at all and many of them have not even tried it. Now that doesn’t matter of itself. I am sure that they have made up for its absence by snorting white powder and all the rest. What makes it important is that I was just about to invest in a little wine project down in Kent and I had rather relied on the produce being drunk.
Actually, the idea came from the Dog and Duck, where I met this very charming wine expert in the bar. He was French as it happens. You could tell that by the way he wore a beret and pronounced “this” and “the” as “zis” and “ze”. Anyway he must have been French because he told me that he had worked at all the top chateaux and you could hardly do that if you were English.
The thing is that his company owns several hectares of land in Kent, which as is widely known is becoming a big wine-producing area. That’s the good bit about global warming, the bit that compensates for us all being wiped out. He told me that all he needs for a successful vineyard is a bit more capital to clear the land, to get rid of some old rail tracks and the remains of a gasworks. You see, that’s the clever bit. Because the land is in an industrial zone, nobody thought of using it for wine – not until he with his Gallic “je ne sais quoi” jumped in and bought it at a low price. Pretty lucky eh? And the luck doesn’t stop there. Because any investor can see that it’s an obvious winner there is no need for a prospectus or expensive bankers or lawyers or anything of that sort. You just give him cash and he notes it down in his pocket book so every penny invested goes into the project. It doesn’t get more efficient than that.
He took me through the figures too; apparently we will need new topsoil spreads over the chemical pits and that seemed quite expensive. I couldn’t see the point of it myself but he was worried that otherwise the chemicals in the land would spoil the flavour of the grapes. Well, that’s not much of a worry. I’ve even heard the house wine at the Dog and Duck described as “pleasant little paraffin” so I don’t suppose a few chemicals would make much difference. Anyway, we could sell in the Chinese market where they drink their wine mixed with cola. That should disguise any metallic taste.
No, all in all, it sounded a pretty good proposition and I had agreed to meet him at the pub today with the readies. It was then I saw the newspaper. Suppose this cult of youth abstinence spreads across the world. What would we do with our wine then? We would have to turn it into industrial alcohol, of course. There is always a market for that but it is certainly a move against precedent. Our Lord turned water into wine, not wine into something else, and it would seem a bit silly to go against His judgement.
Perhaps I won’t invest after all.