Included in the things that need to be sorted through and either stored, chucked or donated are copious amounts of booze.  Now, my parents are practically teetotal; Dad will have the occasional glass of whisky to keep a guest company and wine with a meal if he is out or it’s Christmas, and Mum never drinks beyond that first sip as a toast.  I am the same.  I drank for a brief spell at college, realised that it wasn’t for me and gave up  without ever looking back.  Unlike with smoking which I persevered with, I only needed to throw up once from overindulgence and I have never been tempted to repeat the experience.  (I can’t even be in the same room as the smell of Bailey’s never mind drink it).  So, so far 3 non-drinkers in the family.  My sister K, who enjoys the odd glass of wine but is in that phase of her life where she is either pregnant or breast-feeding, married a man who has never touched a drop of alcohol in his life.  The numbers are rising in the non-drinker category here.  My sister D drinks cocktails when she’s out and maybe a glass of wine occasionally but would hardly qualify as a drinker.  (Especially after the coach incident of 2009).  So this leaves my brother, J.  My brother would classify as a drinker.  Not a ‘vodka-in-his-cornflakes’ drinker, but a drinker nonetheless.  He and his wife entertain a lot and the wine and champagne is always flowing.  So when I asked him to come and help me sort through the booze here at the house, he didn’t hesitate.

He came over last night and we started sorting through dusty bottles which have been living under the sideboard in the dining room, untouched for the four years we have been living here.  There were bottles dating from 1964.  One 1971 vintage champagne, my father assures me, was bought to drink at my engagement party and would have been delicious if I hadn’t thrown a spanner in the works by – well by not getting engaged.  Now, however it is what would have been delicious champagne which has evaporated and so now we have some bottles which although unopened are only half full.  We have wines and spirits made by companies and distilleries that no longer exist, and the thing is that there is no way of knowing if they are worth keeping since you have to open them (and drink them) to find out.

We sifted through.  J took all the champagnes, and many of the wines and yet I am still left with about 100 bottles I have no idea what to do with.  My instinct is to throw it all out.  After all, we won’t drink it.  We have had this wine for several years (close to 50 as it happens) and we still went out and bought wine whenever we had guests or a party.  Was this because we were no longer confident in the wine’s drinkability?  Or perhaps it was that little thought that these were ‘special’ wines for ‘special’ occasions?  Clearly no occasion special enough has presented itself up to now – well apart from my engagement which will now be celebrated with half bottles of flat vinegary champagne (sorry Dad).  So what else could it be?  And  this leads me to the point of this little rant – it’s the inferred value of the wines.  Clearly, they were bought as investments.  And the thing about buying things as an investment is that you have to be prepared to sell it.  Otherwise it isn’t an investment – it’s clutter.  Yes, that painting, that antique chair, that limited edition Star Trek figurine, whatever it is, it has no value unless you sell it.  There is no point in having expensive items that may one day bring in some money lying around your home.  Because the truth is (and I speak only of my situation here) we are never going to sell these things.  We are going to live with them.  We are going to house them, and store them and dust them and just know they’re there.

And this is my issue with the wines and all the other stuff that we are keeping because you never know how much they’re worth.  We are spending a lot of money to keep these things so we don’t have to suffer the pain of separation from them.  Because there is the chance that one day, Dad will read somewhere about someone selling a bottle of Japanese whisky distilled in 1964 for an astronomical sum, and he’ll never get over it.  Sometimes, I guess, knowing you have stuff that you will never eat/drink/use is comforting on a level that I don’t understand, but am prepared to accept.

I still however cannot accept it when we keep clothes that no longer fit us because we may one day be invited to a theme party that requires them.  As I tell D every time, the chances of her being invited to a 60s themed black and white beach party at a roller disco are slim to say the least. Watch one of her friends prove me wrong…