Bruce Anderson

Grateful for my grateful friend

Years ago, I tipped him off about a considerable cellar for sale. He bought it, and seems to feel indebted to me

The phone rang. ‘You are the last person in the world I should be talking to’, proclaimed an old friend from the States. ‘How have I offended you this time?’ was my surprised reply. ‘Not you personally. My beef is with your hero Donald Trump.’ ‘That is not true. In any jurisdiction, I always like to support the most right-wing legal party, so I keep on hoping that the President will calm down and stop twittering. Then one could relax and enjoy his capacity to infuriate whining leftist belly-achers. But he is devaluing his office and demeaning the great republic: no hero of mine.’

‘Oh well, I forgive you and anyway I need your help, on Rousseau.’ ‘I’m not sure I’ve much to offer. My reading of Rousseau is incomplete and out of date. I did conclude that the General Will was a dangerous concept, easily adaptable by totalitarians who wanted a justification for keeping mankind in chains. In private life, he was a profoundly selfish fellow: a blend of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Anyway…’

‘Not Jean-Jacques, for God’s sake. Armand.’ ‘Now you’re talking.’ The house of Armand Rousseau produces great Burgundy. I have not drunk enough of their bottles to feel able to pronounce. But some of those who enjoy that great fortune would insist that there is no finer grower of Pinot Noir. Armand himself, the founder, sounds to have been a character out of Balzac, but one with an instinctive understanding of Burgundy. He was forever buying little parcels of land, seeing potential previous owners had overlooked. Today, the family have 30 acres of vines, half of them producing grands crus. Armand was killed in a car crash coming back from hunting (sanglier rather than fox) but not before he had created a formidable inheritance.

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