German), they would have just have been gifted a bottle of Eitelsbacher
Karthäuserhofberg spätlese trocken from Karthäuserhof
in the Mosel. Perhaps I should have asked for ‘chariot rétractable’
just to be linguistically correct?
This baby’s first words competition which for some reason I,
incorrectly, thought came from the movie “Withnail and I’
has not been won over the past ten years or so it has been running,
though there is an unrelated drinking game associated with the film.
The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic
substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film. According
to Wikipedia this is roughly nine and a half glasses of red wine,
half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof
rum are common substitutes), two and a half shots of gin, six glasses
of sherry, thirteen measures of Scotch whisky and half a pint of ale.
My advice is not to try, given that it could be fatal, and it is definitely
not suitable for young children.
The only quote that I can actually approximate from the movie is “We
want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and
we want them now” which I may have quoted once in a while myself.
Which brings one to thinking about one’s own grandparents of
which I had the standard four though my maternal grandfather faded
quickly as he died when I was about four. I know what Pop looked like
from the photographs but to me all that remains is grey flannel trousers
smelling of farm, a vaguely whisky-breathed presence, and the sound
of his favourite red leather armchair as he eased his not inconsiderable
bulk into it. The cushions exhaled like a walrus coming up from the
depths as his bulk compressed everything by more than two-thirds.
He died in a diagnostic confusion, some saying that he drank because
he had cancer of the stomach, others that the drinking alone was enough
to kill him. I believe that White Heather Scotch was the farming man’s
pleasure consumed immoderately along with roll-your-own cigarettes.
However as the whisky was often supplied by the Stock and Station
Agent it might have been Dalgety’s Red Hackle blend. Whether
the Rutherfords stooped so low, given that it sounds like sheep dip
I don’t know as at one stage they owned their own hotel in Christchurch
- Warners - which was at least six stories high. At some stage it
was converted in a backpackers hostel and collapsed meekly in the
earthquake and is now a blank space.
His wife, and obviously our grandmother, went under a number of aliases
given that her first name was Mildred. Generally she was called Billy
though my brother and I called her Daye for no reason that we know
of. She had the round shape of all country women of the time - jovially
Margaret Rutherford-like with a bosom that blossomed out and down
like large wobbly barrage balloons tethered inside her blouse. She
had something of the Fairy Godmother from Disney’s Snow White
Somehow always a grandmother even though she would have been less
than 50 when we appeared, given that our mother was an only child
had started early in the child-raising game. Mind you Daye had met
her husband because she also liked the horses – they had in
fact been introduced at the Wellington races. I remember going off
with her at some miniature age to the Riccarton Races in Christchurch,
she with her maroon leather, heart shaped member’s badge. I
remember that I picked the winner of one race (Cheyenne because I
liked cowboys and Indians) and we would have made a killing except
that Daye didn’t put any money on it. Since then my equine infallibility
has been marred by picking the last, or second to last horse, on the
infrequent times I have a flutter.
Daye was the ideal grandmother as she lived in a flat downstairs where
one could run away from home the fantastic distance of 20 metres in
times of family stress for a cup of tea and a short bread biscuit.
There were two other grandparents but they lived far away in Auckland
and whom we saw once a year which was the same frequency, which we
saw our father. They will stay in the background for another day.
I hope that I can be as loved and as well remembered as they all are.