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Some people like to taste wine. The Tavistocks, however, drink wine by the bucketful, because we were once told by Uncle Cyril that greatness comes only by the bucketful. To this day, we are not sure what he was hinting at. It could have been that his weekly visit to Madame Mireille had again ended in acrimony, due to what he called a lack of fortitude of Johnny Paynass (we never met this fellow, or else we would have kicked him in the ballsack for causing Uncle so much continuous grief over the years). Madame Mireille occasionally came for a visit, but all we remember is that she had a stubbly palm when stroking our plucky hair. She was reputed to have a wonderful singing voice, but all we ever heard was (from upstairs) Uncle's tenor, and a bass hitting tones so low as to make a Russian monk envious. Madame Mireille was Nurse's best friend (their bosoms were equally ample, and weather-beaten - this description fails to do justice to the fear we had of their amicable embrace. We imagined that the occurrence of an unlucky placement of our head in the vicinity of the impact area would be fatal). Enough of these moral hazards as we continue our saga.

Over the years, Uncle's advice on greatness has led mainly to painful situations due to two main shortcomings at the logistical level. Firstly, the only 'bucket' at our disposal was an old piss-pot we found under Nurse's bed, which we vigorously redefined. However brilliant this plan was linguistically, said bucket retained a certain past sentiment/sediment.

Secondly, our wine cellar contained only empty bottles before we set to work filling them with a mixture of Ribena and vinegar (we had read a wine-making manual starting from the back towards the front, but failed (all we needed to know, we concluded, was that vinegar seemed to be the end stage of the oenological cycle (we had previously used the glossary of technical terms for a game, connecting the words with their true, hidden meaning. We decided tannins was a fancy term for vinegar))). We also added a yeast substitute, harvested from between Uncle's toes. The end result was a fierce bubbly, which aged beautifully.

From this description, as well as the age-old adage that the best defence is the forward retreat, we can only say that it would be unwise to taste rather than binge on wine. Binge-drinking has recently acquired a negative flair, but in our case it was simply a survival tactic. We were on the warpath with the Havisocks again, and every wet ounce of courage we could muster was a welcome one. Steeling ourselves with drink would hopefully lead to re-possessing the Havisocks' wine (theirs was as 'real' as ours, and everyone knows only quantity counts. Give it up ye snobs, you know we're right). We already had an operation in what we call 'safe-keeping' of public goods. This was a very successful enterprise, at least from our perspective: someone has to care about the race-horses after their owners have gone off to drink champagne. And our members like a good steak, albeit a darkly coloured one at that. Everyone wins, which is a positive message for all you kids out there.

When we go to actual wine tastings, we love to lecture the other tasters on things we have no clue of. Fun facts of Beethoven's life (the dog), violent non-sequiturs ('why use a pen if you can use this power-drill?'), a racial gaffe ('The Congo is a place in the mind, not only a failed state'), unsollicited psycho-analytical profiling of everyone at our table ('You seem to like to withdraw all the time; I say, be a man and penetrate'), a squeeze, a Wainwright aphorism to instill a sense of decency amongst these academics, a well-placed foot-on-lady's-leg, shamelessness (a ritual dropping of the trouser). It all contributes to greatness, but only if by the bucketful.