When I was a teenager I collected miniature alcohol bottles, mostly of spirits. The contents didn't interest me, but the different bottle shapes and labels were really pleasing. I thought that on my 21st birthday I would have a mad party and drink them all. I didn't. Then I thought that one day I might play an epic game of draughts, Graham Greene style, where the bottles are the pieces and you have to down each one that's captured. I haven't.
So my miniature bottle collection has followed me into adult, married life, and it's spent most of its existence wrapped in newspaper in a cardboard box.
The niches in the chunky stone walls of our farmhouse are crying out to be filled with curios. We have a plastic skull in one, fossils in another and, to the left of the aga, a perfect home for my miniature bottles.
Now we reach the confession. As my collection has matured, so have I. What could be better, on a cold dark night in a handsome yet chilly farmhouse, than to sit in front of the fire sampling an unusual spirit. I don't know much about peaty overtones and oak casks, but I know that this Vieil Armagnac, picked for its stubby green bottle whilst camping with my family in
in the '80s, tastes pretty special. France
Fortunately the curios look just as good empty or full. Hic.