We had our yearly Beaujolais Nouveau bash on Saturday. The myth is that the French don’t actually drink the stuff, but the truth is they do – but only once though.
One of my brother-in-laws is a carpenter and every November he spends about 4 hours cleaning out a couple of square metres in his work shop, so that he can set up a few planks on tool boxes for a makeshift table and benches. He invites a few neighbours and the family – the only prerequisite is to bring at least one bottle of Beaujolais and a sausage per person.
The sausages are cooked in an industrial size frying pan on a wood burning stove and the bottles are opened and placed in the middle of the table. The adults sit on the planks, ignoring the sawdust that drifts down in a permanent haze from the strip lights, whilst the kids are given electric saws and other dangerous wood cutting machinery to play with to keep them quiet.
After the first 6 or 7 bottles, the conclusion was that the Beaujolais was as foul as usual. By the time we got to the tenth everyone was finding it quite palatable – fruity and light. We maybe should have stopped there, but someone had the bright idea of getting out a bottle of home-made cherry brandy. Mon chéri, who, until present had seemed immune to the noxious effects of wholesale quantities of Beaujolais, attacked the stuff with the air of someone who had just arrived late at a party, having been deprived of fluids all evening. He doesn’t tend to drink very often, but makes up for it when he does.
“He’s pissed” my mother said 15 minutes later, with the pious air of someone who never touches alcohol and who would certainly never spend an evening swilling wine. I looked over at him and recognised the symptoms: heavy lidded reptilian eyes, a certain sway even when in a sitting position and communicating in what could only be E.T.’s mother tongue.
“I’ve just changed the bedding” I said irrationally, “I hope he doesn’t throw up on it”. My suggestion however, that he sleep on the planks in the workshop was met with a lizard-like stare. Unblinking. To prove me wrong, he made it down to the house uneventfully and got into bed.
Five minutes later, he started to swallow conspicuously, several times. “Here we go”, I thought “au revoir white sheets”. But he just grumbled and went back to sleep again. Another Beaujolais mishap narrowly avoided.