Over the New Year I received a calling from God.
More accurately I received a phone call from Bacchus. You know, the God of Wine?
I expect when other God’s call it’s quite dramatic, burning bushes, bright shafts of light, possibly even a sacrifice to get the whole thing going. But with Bacchus it was more like being on the receiving end of a drunk-dial.
It went something like this
“For fucks sake, really? No no no shit shit shit…”
“…no bloody way did I order a white Russian. Have you recently been discharged from a mental institute? You haven’t? Well. I would seriously consider checking yourself in. Or, maybe you should just have a drink. Here. Take this white Russian. “
“Better service in Hades I swear. Hello. Harry?”
“Err, Yes, who this.
“Do you have nothing better to say?”
“Don’t you like White Russians?”
“Of course not. Unless that’s all there is. Listen, Harry.
“It’s Bacchus here. God of wine. I need to have a chat with you. Meet me on top of the Bottlery Hills on Saturday afternoon. Four o clock should be fine.”
“Who is this?”
“Don’t be clichéd. None of your friends are funny enough to pull a prank like this. For once I would like to call someone up at three in the morning and for them to be all “Hey, Bacchus my man. Which Hills? Sure, see you then.” But no, it’s always “Who is this? What are you playing at?” It’s tiring. I’ll see on you Saturday. Don’t ask, and don’t worry it’s all been ordained.”
And then he hung up.
It was three in the morning. I checked to see if I was drunk. I wasn’t. I racked my memory for any hallucinatory drugs that I might have taken in the hours before this phone call. There were none. I decided that I was dreaming within a dream or some sort of inception-like nonsense, and went back to sleep.
When Saturday arrived I duly headed out to the bottlery hills. Because even if it wasn’t the god of wine waiting for me, I had to find out who was posing as him.
I took along a bottle of wine, because it seemed like the thing to do. Choosing was tough. I went for one of those skin contact Chenins Craig Hawkins is making, because, shit, Bacchus would definitely be into that.
There is more than one Bottlery hill. I chose the biggest looking one, and made my way up. I got to the top and immediately felt like an idiot.
Then he appeared.
I don’t want you to think that he APPEARED. There was no light, smoke, or angelic choir, and there was definitely no averting of the eyes. He just sort of staggered into frame. As if, seconds before, he was leaning against a bar and had just pushed himself off.
He looked drunk. Not paralytic, just a bit wobbly. Wobbly, but well attired. Almost like Tim Burton had dreamed up an alcoholic and got Johnny Depp to play the role. Top hat, waistcoat, and what looked like ethnic jewelry.
I knew straight away that this was the God of wine. I can’t say how. But when you meet a god you just know. There was a quality about him that I cannot describe, except that its effect was to make someone who looked human, not quite human at all.
The rest of that afternoon, evening, and early morning are a blur. We drank heavily, that’s for certain. Drugs were involved. Even though, interestingly Bacchus told me that drugs have no effect on gods, some just like the ritual.
He is certainly – and obviously I guess – into wine and had brought a rather daunting selection in a large, vintage-looking ice chest which was in the back of a Ford Cortina. Bachhus is nothing if not eccentric.
We finished all the wine. Spoke of many things, 90% of which I am sure I have forgotten, some were commandments which will make there way into a column somewhere, and some I’ll write here. I am only sure this all occurred because I because I woke up in my car with a ¼ full bottle of 1999 Jean Louis Chave Hermitage.
I sipped on this wine, miraculously still at the right temperature, through the Sunday morning trying to piece together the night before.
As I mentioned he gave out a few commandments. Although, looking back, I think he gave them out because he was trying to fit into an idea of what a god is supposed to do. He mumbled and slurred his way through them like a kid in morning assembly mumbling through the Lord’s Prayer.
The one thing I do remember, and the reason I am writing this, is because he kept going on about how we’ve got wine all wrong. How we are “missing the point of the grape, the bottle and the ecstasy.” That’s what he said, word for word.
When I opened the bottle of Hawkin’s Cortez, he smiled and said he knew it and liked it a lot, but was more into that “Batshit crazy El Bandito.” Typical. I asked him how we had missed the plot, and told me a story.