Waughs on Wine and Brexit

The Bridgwater Mercury and Breitbart News have announced that Alexander Waugh will stand as the candidate of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party for the Parliamentary constituency of  Bridgwater and West Somerset. This would apparently be in the next general election, whenever that may be.

In the Somerset County Gazette, Alexander explained his decision:

“Irritated at the way in which both the EU and the British Parliament has chosen to play fast and loose with our democracy, I have taken the decision to stop whining about it to my friends and to stand up and be counted.

“If I am elected to Parliament I shall do everything in my power to help to restore honesty, integrity, trust and democracy to our now broken system of government and to ensure that Britain is put back in command of its own money, laws and borders.

“When these things are achieved, when we are once again a properly democratic nation, I shall return to the gorgeous green pastures of West Somerset to get on with the rest of my life.”

The story was also reported in the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the New Statesman.

Alexander’s grandfather, Evelyn, abstained from politics. His father Auberon once stood for election to Parliament for the Dog Lovers’ Party in the North Devon constituency of Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe. Thorpe lost his seat, but not to Auberon, who lost his deposit but made his point.

In a recent issue, The Times reviews the reprint of Auberon’s 1986 book Waugh on Wine. See previous post. The reviewer, Roger Lewis, clearly enjoyed the book and Auberon’s writing generally, subject to a few reservations. Here is an excerpt:

It is fascinating hearing about the nine bat-haunted, barrel-vaulted cellars at Combe Florey, the Waugh seat near Taunton in Somerset, with its brick bins. Waugh certainly made better use of the facility than his father. Evelyn refused to stock claret (having once been mocked for pronouncing it “clart”), experimented with “wines from unlikely places like Chile” and “came back from Rhodesia one day announcing a new discovery from Portugal called Mateus Rosé, and drank it through one whole summer”.

The apparent philistinism would have been a typical joke against wine snobbery by the author of Black Mischief, who also never opened a bottle until he was ready to drink it — no nonsense about letting wine breathe — and “he drank splendid burgundy at temperatures which many would judge too cold for sauternes”.

[…] Like his father’s, Auberon Waugh’s genius was for being abusive, not informative, and thankfully good manners do eventually abate and he hits a sort of stride, describing some of the wine he has come across as “blue ink and curry powder”, “a collapsed marquee fallen into a rotting silage pit”, “Ribena-flavoured beetroot soup”, and “the smell of French railway stations or ladies’ underwear”. That’s what we want — Waugh saying his drink is like “all mud and gross, peasant smells”. When, in The Spectator, he described a burgundy as “anal”, stocks ran out. Waugh could not take Australian wine seriously “after Barry Humphries”, and Californian wine resembled “sanitised lavatory seats”. […]

Lewis (and Auberon) may have been unaware that Evelyn, while traveling in the USA in the late 1940s, found he preferred California wine to French, at least as the latter was served in the United States. He thought the French wine was spoiled by the long ocean voyage and was improperly cellared after arrival. His favorite California tipple was Paul Masson burgundy. That was in the years when Masson was producing high quality, small production wines from its pinot noir grapes grown in the Santa Cruz mountains. This was several years before the company was bought by mass producers and promoted its products in TV commercials featuring Orson Welles (“We will sell no wine before its time”). The review concludes:

I worship Waugh without reservation, but this must be the most pointless reprint in the history of publishing. The practical information has not been updated. “Various addresses are no longer valid and a few of the companies mentioned are no longer in existence,” [publisher Naim] Attallah, says. Is he having a laugh?

UPDATE (6 August 2019): Additional information was added regarding Alexander Waugh’s Parliamentary candidacy.

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