My partner's new phone finally arrived - an event which, coinciding with the end of the year and the need to buy a new desk-calendar for our joint activities triggered the idea that we ought to harness the power of technology by diarising in The Cloud instead of on paper. The perceived advantage of this would be to give each of us access, at all times, to all three diaries: hers, mine and ours. A mere two days after starting the process I (and it was I) managed to jump all the hurdles - the passwords, domains and internet identities placed in the way of fulfilment - and to connect us at last to the wireless wizardry of simultaneously synchronised calendars. The word ‘phone’ hardly does justice to such a remarkable device.
Our new diary system should ensure we act in unison when it comes to events such as the extraordinary cluster of 'significant' birthdays presently overwhelming us. The ages 40, 50, 60 and 70 have been sneaking up on various of our friends and relatives, bringing in their wake dismay, consternation, distress – and a few parties. It's tough, as is well known, to pass through a decade barrier: with the possible exceptions of 10 and 20 they are unwanted milestones along life's highway and so we empathise with those whose turn it is to encounter them. Less well appreciated are the niceties of acknowledging these markers. Some choose to keep it quiet, while others brazen it out. But suppose, for example, a party is proposed: then what sort of arrangement would delight guests of differing ages and backgrounds? Should it be themed or freestyle? Fancy dress or casual? At home or at a venue? And how do you send invitations? By snail-mail, email or publicly via Facebook?
But with several parties attended so far - and more to come - I am enjoying the experience of all the different formats. There was just one disappointment: the party that ran out of my preferred tipple - red wine. So I was delighted, during a recent stay in London, to be invited to a tasting of wines from a particular Côte de Beaune producer. The preliminary lecture concerning the merits of chalk ridges, terroir and south-facing slopes and incorporating anecdotes about the Domaines and their owners heightened my anticipation so that the first taste of wine was guaranteed to please – even though it was white (well, yellow actually – but that is an etymological mystery, in the same way as the origin of the word ‘phone’ will be one day). The next three whites, however, convinced me that the wines were seriously good and I became excited at the prospect of the reds. But they didn’t live up to my expectations: I was disappointed by their lack of substance and their harsh tannins (Pinot Noir is so prone to variable weather conditions) and I was obliged to wait until supper time for a decent bottle of something plumper, juicier and redder.
I was staying with a relative, whose patience I must have stretched many times with my particularities, but who still seemed genuinely pleased to accommodate me and, although she prefers to drink white wine, had thoughtfully laid in a bottle or two of red. But on the last night of my stay, having retired early to my bedroom with what remained in my glass, I stumbled and spilt it onto the white bedclothes. Distraught I rushed downstairs hopeful of finding some sort of remedy and, perhaps, forgiveness. "Oh, never mind" she said "I'll just stick it in the washer". The perfect host! Nevertheless I have since been thinking of cultivating a white wine palate.