PROJECT FRONT FOOT: OCTOBER NEWSLETTER.

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

More tales from the far and not so far pavilions with PFF’s October newsletter. I’m just a tad early this month on account of some serious desk-clearing before India.

The plan – on arrival in Mumbai the week after next – is to provide daily Facebook pictures and postings. To follow PFF’s progress simply click on the following link www.facebook.com/projectfrontfoot/.

Cheers

Vic”        

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Wine and Music: “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” by Bessie Smith – and Eric Clapton

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This Blues standard was written by Jimmy Cox in 1923 and popularised by the great Bessie Smith, whose release coincided with the Wall Street Crash in September 1929. The tale of a millionaire losing his wealth struck a chord.

Clapton’s version on “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” is the best-known. It later featured on his “Unplugged” album, too.

It’s a warning about the perils of excessive spending on fine wine: “Bought bootleg whisky, Champagne, and wine”.

Rudy Kurniawan should have listened to it…

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“A little light reading for the weekend in the shape of the Project Front Foot September Newsletter.

The focus, despite a return to Mumbai less than four weeks away, remains on events in the UK including news of an exciting tie in with the Lord’s Taverners.

Cheers

Vic”

 

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Wine and Music: “Drinkin’ wine, spo-dee o-dee” by Stick McGhee

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Here’s an absolute gem from Stick McGhee, who I’d never heard of but it turns out that he is the brother of Brownie McGhee, who I do know.

The original lyrics were extremely profane – “Drinkin’ wine motherfucker!” – but were changed to the more innocuous “bop ba!”

“Drinkin’ wine, spo-dee o-dee” was first recorded by Stick in the mid-1940s. Subsequent cover versions were by Jerry Lee Lewis and Mike Bloomfield’s Electric Flag.

We don’t condone drunken violence, nor do we condone drinking Port and Sherry together, as Stick does in this seminal Blues rocker.

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: AUGUST NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,       

A heady mix of monsoon mayhem and motorway miles; please find attached the Project Front Foot August Newsletter.

Cheers

Vic”

 

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Wine and literature: Chablis and oysters in “Anna Karenina”

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I was forced to endure Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as an English and European Literature undergraduate at Warwick University too many years ago. It’s probably one of the reasons, among other literary horrors, why I didn’t read any fiction for at last two years after graduating.

Anyway, I recently came across this delicious reference to Chablis and oysters in chapter ten of the first book of Anna Karenina. Levin, Oblonsky, and Stepan Arkadyevitch are dining together:

“What shall we drink?”     
“What you like, only not too much. Champagne,” said Levin.     
“What! To start with? You’re right though, I dare say. Do you like the white seal?”      
“Cachet blanc,” prompted the Tatar.      
“Very well, then, give us that brand with the oysters, and then we’ll see.”      
“Yes, sir. And what table wine?”      
“You can give us Nuits. Oh no, better the classic Chablis.”      
“Yes, sir. And your cheese, your Excellency?”      
“Oh, yes, Parmesan. Or would you like another?”      
“No, it’s all the same to me,” said Levin, unable to suppress a smile.

Interesting to note that oysters and Chablis was already “classic” by 1873, when the novel was first published in installments. Chablis, oysters, and Parmesan sounds like a decent meal to me.

There is white Nuits-St-Georges but it’s a tiny amount of the total percentage of Nuits wine – only about 40,000 bottles per year – and unlikely to have been found in nineteenth century Russian restaurants.

Gouges and Chevillon make prime examples of Nuits blanc but red burgundy with oysters…? Almost as vulgar as an oligarch!

 

 

 

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Wine and Music: “All I have to do is dream” by the Everly Brothers

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The Everly Brothers’ wine references keep coming.

All I have to do is dream” is one of their most famous songs, written by Boudleaux Bryant and released in 1958. Chet Atkins is the guitarist.

The verses include:

I can make you mine
Taste your lips of wine
Anytime night or day

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Wine and Music: “Down in the Willow Garden” by the Everly Brothers

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Here are our friends the Everly Brothers with more wine references in their wonderful music.

Down in the Willow Garden” is a traditional Appalachian ballad that mixes wine and violence:

My love fell off to sleep
I had a bottle of Burgundy wine
My love she did not know
So I poisoned that dear little girl
On the banks below

“Burgundy wine” might be a corruption of “burgaloo (pear) wine” or “burglar’s wine”. After all, it does seem fanciful that an Appalachian murderer would poison somebody with Burgundy.

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What the Shah drank: Wines at the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire in 1971

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BBC4’s excellent “Storville” series recently showed a film about “The 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire”, held by the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 12–16 October 1971 on the occasion of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Imperial State of Iran and First Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.

Guests included over sixty of the world’s kings, queens and presidents, including such paragons of integrity as Mobutu Sese Seko and Nicolae Ceauşescu. The Queen was invited but Prince Philip and Princess Anne attended on her behalf.

A tent city was built at Persepolis to accommodate the guests. A film of the event was made, with Orson Welles as narrator. Maxim’s restaurant of Paris was the caterer.

There was a bit of wine, too.

An unverified menu includes Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 for the official toast (great Champagne vintage); Château Haut-Brion Blanc 1964 (terrible vintage for sweet white Bordeaux but the hot summer was good for reds and dry whites); Château Lafite Rothschild 1945 (an all-time great); Moët et Chandon 1911 (another great Champagne vintage, the best between 1874 and 1921); and Musigny Comte Georges de Vogüé 1945 (great – but how did they get enough of it for over sixty guests?).

Apparently the event might have cost more than $200 million.

The Shah paid an even greater price for this extravagance. He was overthrown in February 1979.

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Wine and Music: The Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love”

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Released in 1965, “The Price of Love” was written and performed by Don Everly and Phil Everly.

With its sneering vocals and raucous harmonica, it was a smash in the UK but much less regarded in the USA.

“Wine is sweet, gin is bitter, drink ’em all but you won’t forget her” they sing. Ain’t that so. 

 

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