‘Do you ever do any work?’
A question I get asked quite often. The answer: ‘Yes, but I try not to do too much.’ The truth is, I have a fun job, and the tendency I fight is that of working too much. I am working in a competitive field: one in which seriously talented colleagues are trying to establish an online presence (because newspaper columns, which previously paid good wages, are declining). The temptation is to try to compete by working ever harder, tasting more and more wines, writing more and more reports and articles.
But I don’t think it is the way forwards. I believe that we are in a creative industry. One where volume will never replace quality. There’s certainly a need for those who taste comprehensively, but the danger is that broad coverage comes at the expense of insight. Far better to have many voices, speaking with authenticity, freshness and a unique perspective, than just a few trying to cover all bases.
Because I (perhaps mistakenly) think that the future of wine journalism is one of creative, authentic voices, I’m trying to stay creative. Which means downtime. Reflection. I have thought of setting aside more time to read – even reading outside of my field – in order to get fresh insight – a day a week? I also block out time for play. Play helps creativity, and that’s why I love playing cricket with my wine trade colleagues.
Cricket takes a long time. Today the Wine Trade XI played Earls Colne CC in a day game. That meant no limited overs: a full day of cricket. We started at 1130 and finished at 1830. We won, by two wickets. It was good fun. I bowled 12 overs (a nice spell) and took 1-34, but it would have been far fewer but for the stingiest, tightest umpire ever calling lots of wides for balls just outside the off stump. And, at no 10, I got to hit the winning runs!
But perhaps the highlight of the day was a beer, drunk at lunch, and brewed by a member of our team, Colin Bocking. It’s a Citra from the Crouch Vale Brewery, and this was just beautiful. Weighing in at 3.9% alcohol, this is a fabulous beer with lovely hoppy aromatics, but a balanced, fresh palate. It’s like an American craft IPA with manners, possessing the aromatic interest, but hugely drinkable and refreshing. Colin’s frustration with some of these interesting hops, such as Citra, is the availability. This year he only got 2/3 of his allocation, and the beer sells out.