Friday 25th June

Today, I am off to the United States for the first time since 2007 for a “Wine Advocate/eRP” staff meeting, which tend to be a little more “bacchannalian” than most corporate affairs. Before the meeting in Baltimore, I have various rendezvous in the Big Apple and Washington DC to meet Wine-Journal followers, put names to faces, check out the wine scene, attend lunches and dinners and imbibe some wine.

First things first.

I take Lily to school and bid her farewell. I explain that I won’t see her for a week and give her a kiss, but she is used to my peripatetic lifestyle and just starts mucking about with her friend Lucy, who appears to chanting “Mr. Poo” in my face. At 39 years of age I assumed that I was beyond school bullying. I consider complaining to their teacher to get them in trouble and maybe their first taste of detention, but they have sports day later and I don’t want to ruin their day.

Returning home, I pack my bags (better late than never), kiss the wife and Daisy and then drag my suitcase with two broken wheels down to Guildford Station. Nothing to report en route, though I must recommend the in-flight film: “A Prophet”, directed by the feted Jacque Audiard. To be honest, the story of an Arab inmate’s entanglement with the Corsican mafia is emotionally draining and I feel mentally exhausted as the credits roll. I spend the remainder of the flight piecing together the complex plot in my brain and make a mental note not to speak to any “Tony Sopranos” during my stay.

Arriving at JFK, it takes eternity to pass through immigration control: multi-various fingerprints and retina scans, the silent Spanish inquisition as if I have to prove that I am not a fully paid up member of Al Qaeda before being allowed to step foot in the country. Last time I looked, they did not have a splinter group operating out of Guilford (the rent is too expensive.) There is a schmaltzy film entitled “Welcome to America” on constant rotation on the plasma, to entertain those mired in snaking queue. Who are they kidding?

Then there is another eternal queue for a taxi followed by an eternal traffic jam into Manhattan, whose mesmeric skyline never ceases to send the heart pumping faster. I have Alicia Keys in my head…New York, New York, New York…a modern classic with or without the Jigga rap.

I check in at the Holiday Inn in SoHo where fellow wine scribe John “View From The Cellar” Gilman is waiting in the lobby. Like most of his compatriots, he bids me “hello” and then commences a soliloquy upon his most pressing ailments in such minutiae that within five minutes I am more intimate with his knee cartiledge than his physician. Maybe I should bring up my erectile disfunction up at the dinner table this evening? (That’s a joke by the way.) John has organized a superb dinner with Californian wines from the 1970s: Diamond Creek Red Rock 1978, Mayacamas Chardonnay 1975 from magnum, Caymus 1974, Charles Krug 1971 etc. Although I suffer jetlag, it is both a pleasurable and enlightening evening with stimulating company and fascinating wines, despite finding myself amidst the crossfire of an unintelligible conversation between three world class bridge champions. I demur interjecting with my strategy for Snap.

Anyway…a great start to the week.

Thanks John…and good luck with the knee.

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