Lost in translation
Large haunches of venison are on the barbecue. We’ve learnt from last year that vegetables don’t go down well—the plates of stew came back with them left behind, the lamb having been picked out—so this year, it’s meat and coleslaw. And buns.
Between buying the rolls and arriving in the vineyard, I receive a call asking me to bring six bottles of wine, which I select from the local Co-op, rather apprehensively because I know nothing about wine and this will be drunk by people who do.
Within a few minutes of our arrival, Zam, who’s driving the telehandler, crashes into a sevenstorey tower of Chardonnay grapes in crates, a hitch in the production that appalls him and, as it coincides with our appearance, I believe his body language is telling me this is my fault.
We discuss the crunching noise we’ve just heard before his sister says ‘do you think we should help?’ and I feel exactly as I did when a friend of Will’s slipped elegantly to the floor in our kitchen and I stepped over her to reach the fridge. ‘Has she just fainted?’ someone asked, which prompted me take more helpful action. I often need to be told.
We gathered the grapes back into the crates, leaving a fair amount on the ground, where they became trampled while still looking jewel-like. It was a sticky business, but good to feel useful. I try to further redeem myself by producing the red wine.
‘Looks fine,’ I’m told. ‘Did you bring a corkscrew?’
Luckily, someone else has produced bottles with screw tops, which one of the pickers photographs on his ipad, having politely asked if I minded. I have no idea why. The wine, served in enamel mugs, goes down rapidly. So rapidly in fact that Zam has now put one of my bottles into Alfie’s gumboot, which he’s banging against a post in order to work the cork free. This is not a rapid manoeuvre.
Discussion breaks out between the pickers about the type of meat they’re enjoying. Zam breaks off from the bottle banging to explain that it’s venison (wide arms outstretched as antlers) and not boar (long teeth and snorting), but something is getting lost in translation because a couple of people replace their rolls on the pile untouched. The foreman’s wife is looking particularly horrified.
‘That was fun,’ I say, lying down on the grass when it’s over. ‘I didn’t get a brownie,’ someone grumbles. ‘There were not enough,’ another adds. ‘Let’s go and press these in the apple press’—there’s a bucket of grapes next to the car.
We pack up and leave, the car boot still full of buns and five bottles of red wine.
I thought I’d be arrested by the supermarket police