I know nothing about whisky, other than I enjoy one dram as much as the next one, and I wouldn’t have known a Glenglassaugh from Glenn Miller. But since I inherited my father’s collection of miniature single malts I have started to take more than a passing interest in the amber nectar, while I catalogue hundreds of obscure bottles from distilleries with impossible names like A’Bainne or Pityvaich. As I pour (no pun intended) over names, dates and intriguing locations, I have started to identify a few that are missing and tried to pick up the mantle of completing the collection via the internet – a tool that father never had at his disposal. Just as well in some cases, when I do a Google search for ‘Ladyburn 15 year-old’ and it comes back with a list of illegal brothels in Thailand! Eventually I track down a Macallans 1961, the holy grail of rare bottles of which only 369 were ever made, missing from my collection and coming up for impending auction. Excitedly I register on their website. Sadly last Wednesday my courage , besides my soon to be wife, would not allow me to hit the button enough times to reach the three hundred quid it made, let alone £5000 that its full-bottle brother achieved. I am consoled with the fact that it was probably fake anyway, because who is ever going to check? The mischievous streak in me considers running up a 1961 label on photo-shop and gluing it on to a tiny bottle of petrol. Or better still, making up some names of distilleries that sound like someone trying to speak with a clothes peg on their tongue and selling them on ebay!
Strangely enough, it is unpronounceable Scottish names that are occupying most of my waking hours as it is, while I cement together the tome that will be the History of Aberdeen Angus cattle which, after 18 months work, is nearing a first draft. What in heaven’s name was it that drove breeders to call their animals things like ‘Proud Gairloch Ericina of Murdochcairnie?’ Didn’t they know that somewhere, some poor clerk would have to write them down in a book one day? Even now I have had to check the spelling 4 times in case Mrs McDreary from Lochnagoldfinch finds a spelling mistake and condemns my work with accusations of illiteracy.
They do that, though, those purists. That is something I have found out first hand with my travel-guides, when sad vindictive retired school-teachers are allowed to write reviews of my work on Amazon and hide behind cowardly nicknames such as Biblioprefect or LiteraryMother, condemning my book on Bordeaux to a one star rating because I had missed an accent off the name of her local restaurant. There are probably similar ones who scrutinise this column with literary tooth-combs. To you I say, stick to reading the Observer!
Apologies for having a go at you, dear reader, but I am a little grumpy today having sat up half of last night to watching the golf on TV. On that subject, I have one observation to make. ‘Dear Mrs Watson, no matter what you were smoking, drinking or injecting at the time, naming a child Bubba is seriously, seriously wrong!’
I will admit that since finding a bit more time to play in the winter in East Lothian, I have got right into golf again; so much so that Wendy has got me tickets to the Ryder Cup this year in Gleneagles. This in itself was a complete mission because, although it is held in tranquil Scotland, the event is run by paranoid Americans. To get anywhere near the place, we have to fill out ten page immigration forms, submit passport details and solemnly declare, so help me god, that we are not terrorists. And it gets even worse for the locals. Poor Mrs McDreary will be ring-fenced into her home in Auchterarder village for a whole week in September. She will only be allowed in and out of her front door via a retina-scan and strip-search to fetch a loaf of bread, in case she takes it upon herself to murder anyone in obscenely loud check trousers and an idiotic name!
I am quite looking forward to it though, since Wendy and I have extended our love of live sporting events from rugby to other disciplines. As well as Wimbledon, this year we are also hoping to go to the snooker world championship, possibly the last year it will be in the quaint Crucible theatre in Sheffield before that vile promoter, Barry Hearn, gets it moved to Las Vagas or somewhere equally squalid. Mark my words, it won’t be long before he reduces snooker into a vulgar circus like everything else he promotes in a bid to attract the lowlife who currently frequent darts championships. As we speak, John Parrot and Steve Davies are being measured up for over-sized baseball caps and the lovely Hazel Irvine fitted with Double D-cup silicone, while the lady referees will be clad in leopard-skin lycra hot-pants and stilettos. Commentary will be provided by Ant and Dec or Will.i.am and the scoreboard will be replaced by bimbos on roller-skates to an audience full of Bill Werbeniuk lookalikes! Incidentally, when that pillock John Virgo starts squealing ‘where’s the white ball going...!!!’ am I the only one who wishes it was ‘down his throat?!’
Finally, I cannot resist once again having a go at the BBC’s woeful Sunday night farcical look at the countryside who have descended to a new low in giving away ‘wild flower seeds!’ Any farmer, gardener and even city pedestrian will recognise that, in general, wild flowers are weeds. How can distributing 200,000 packets of weeds possibly be a benefit to anybody other that the makers of Round-Up? Thanks Ellie, I’ll look forward to planting my ragwort, sow-thistles, creeping buttercup and stinking mayweed – in your vegetable patch!
Meanwhile, our very own vegetable garden is now well populated with onions, potatoes, courgettes and beans, desperately awaiting some rain. Yes, after half a metre of rain in three months in France, we are once again as dry as our empty swimming pool. Never happy, are we?