Monday, 27 July 2009

Falling Towards England by Clive James

We devoured this, along with the earlier Unreliable Memoirs on a family holiday back in the 80s. James was a fixture on the telly by that point and was drafted in by the Beeb to do New Year’s Eve several years running as well as hosting his own show. He is a genuinely funny writer as well as a great mind, in my opinion, and although I laughed more reading the first book, volume two is still a hoot.

Its inclusion on the booze blog is for the following episode, where James attempts to get a job in the wine trade. Given that his idea of fine wine was “one that merely stained the teeth without stripping off the enamel” it was an interesting proposition but the interview is far from a success. He bluffs his way through at the beginning but it soon starts to go wrong.

My mumbled generalisations got me as far as the bar, but there he poured a glass of yellowish white wine and asked me to taste it. “This is a 1960 Trockenbocken hock from Schlockenglocken,” he rapped, or words to that effect. “Selling it through my club for a quid a bottle. What do you think?” I sniffed it, said it had a nice nose, sipped it, said it had a nice bottom, and sank the rest of it in one. “You know bugger all about wines,” announced T H Lawrence matter-of-factly.

After reading that, the phrase ‘bugger all’ got overused that summer...

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