Jeeves and the artisanal gin fad (with apologies to PG Wodehouse)

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 By David Bullard

I’d just popped into the old flat after lunch at the Drones in time to catch the news on the wireless that some political Johnny had threatened to kill five white people for every black person killed.

Now killing a couple of surplus-to-requirement aunts or even Sir Roderick Spode would have been fine in my book, and I may well have mailed the killer a fiver or two as a sort of inducement. But killing perfectly decent, law-abiding chaps whose only vice in life is to overstay their welcome at lunch, or put some money on the gee-gees, is a bit rich. I don’t mind saying I was a somewhat unsettled and in need of some refreshment.

As if by some sort of telepathic miracle, in shimmered Jeeves. Now, for those of you who haven’t kept up with my past adventures (shame on you) Jeeves is my valet. He prefers to call himself my gentleman’s personal gentleman, but valeting is what I call it. And he’s very good at it, particularly as he has the uncanny ability to anticipate the young master’s needs.

For example, I was late dressing for dinner at the Kelvin Grove one evening and had misplaced a cuff-link. Couldn’t find the bally thing anywhere when in floated Jeeves (he does sort of float rather than walk) with a perfectly serviceable pair of spares. I hadn’t even let out a wail of distress, and yet somehow he knew I was experiencing grief in the lost cufflink department.

Anyway, back to the story and the need for some refreshment to soothe the troubled brow, with the threat of genocide looming.

“Jeeves,” I said. “I think I’d like one of those local artisanal gins I’ve been reading so much about lately. You know the ones: they lob in some fynbos or black pepper and strawberries and charge double the price of normal gin for the bottle”.

Jeeves coughed discreetly.

“I shouldn’t advise it, sir.”

“And why jolly well not?” I demanded of him.

“Well sir, if you permit me saying so, they are what I believe is known as a ‘rip off’ among the gin cognoscenti. Gin is traditionally made with juniper berries and that formula seems to have worked well thus far.

“To add garden cuttings and bits of left-over vegetable matter to the solution adds, in my opinion, no great value. Particularly as gin is usually drunk with something sweet and sickly like tonic water”.

I felt I had to remonstrate with the man: “But Jeeves, my dear, deluded valet, they come in very fancy bottles, they’re locally-produced, and they cost twice as much as imported gin. They must be better”.

He hit back: “It’s a common misconception I fear, sir, that if something costs a lot of money it must be more valuable than something that doesn’t. Many owners of Breitling watches would no doubt agree with me. However, a closer examination of the labeling on a gin bottle reveals a uniform alcohol content of 43% by volume. Without wishing to labour the point, sir, five doubles of any of the artisanal gins in question will have much the same effect on your driving skills as five doubles of the cheaper variety. And with your morning-after headache, you’ll have the residual taste of whatever was added to the mixture to add to your misery.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will mix your usual London gin and tonic with a dash of Angostura bitters and a twist of lemon”.

“But Jeeves” I pleaded, “I’ve been collecting all sorts of fancy gins these past few weeks. Even one from my old chum David Bullard, the disgraced ex-scribbler. What am I to do with them?”

Jeeves sniffed in that sniffy sort of way he has.

“I have taken the liberty of donating them to a local organization where I am sure neither price or quality will be of any consequence. The ANC Women’s League are having their Christmas party next week and Mrs. Dlamini was a most grateful recipient. She asked me to wish you Joyeux Noel”.

David Bullard is an accomplished luncher, wit, and writer

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