Cubans

Published on December 8th, 2017 | by Ken Gargett

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Dasher & Fisher ‘Meadow’ Gin | H Upmann Magnum 46

This week’s fun topic – funerals.

Yes, it is all Bordeaux and skittles here at Kenfessions. I will say that I was very fortunate when it came to my father’s, many years ago. I honestly could not see how I could get through it, but it turned out to be almost inspiring and uplifting. Well, as much as possible in the circumstances. Had eulogies from two of his oldest and closest friends. One did the professional and family stuff. The other took the piss. Dad would have loved it. I still have mates who say it was the best funeral they have ever attended, if there can be such a thing.

Was reminded of all this when the wife of one of dad’s legal partners passed away recently and the funeral was this week. He and dad were long-time friends and they merged their firms many years ago – into what is today is one of those giant humongous international firms.

They had three kids, around the same age as myself, give or take, and I have been friends with the daughter for decades. She married a very close mate of mine, as well. Now, all families are dysfunctional, but these guys put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional (they certainly didn’t put the ‘fun’ in funeral). The eldest, my friend, is the world’s biggest drama queen (someone told me that was an insult, but I assure you it is not meant that way and she is fully aware of it, in any event). She is also wonderfully gullible. We were at the law firm one day when she asked about Frank, an old friend of hers who she had not seen for several years and who worked with me at the firm. Sometimes, it is not even sport.

“Very good”, I said, “coping very well”.

What do you mean ‘coping’?

Well, I said, you did hear he lost a leg in the accident. Has an artificial one, now. (I have no idea where this came from but it seemed the thing to say).

Utter horror all round. No, had not even heard of any accident.

At that moment, and surely some divinity somewhere must have a sense of humour, the lift doors opened and out walked Frank. My friend rushes across the foyer and gives him a monstrous hug. Frank finds nothing odd in this at all. She then gets down on her knees, in the foyer of a major legal firm, and starts banging on his leg with her fist. Turns to me, looking puzzled. ‘Other leg’, I say. She starts whacking on it. Looks very puzzled. By this stage, I have lost it and am in fits of laughter. Frank simply shrugs and walks on to his office, not at all phased by this. My friend is still trying to work out what has happened.

Middle son, a lovely bloke, similar to his father in that he is very intellectual (moved to Berlin many years ago to work as a composer), but unlike his father in that he is completely and utterly the vaguest person alive. Has, I’m assured, been known to travel back to Australia, only to receive a call from a flatmate in Berlin – you left the kitchen tap running, we think the gas is on, but you’ve taken both sets of house keys to Australia, so no one can get in. Seriously.

Youngest son. Well, let us just say that when he was not named Damien, they missed an opportunity. Black sheep does not do it justice. There was a time when he was the target, not unreasonably, of all the wrath of the family but it has, since the paternal influence passed and the wife suffered the vagaries of age (so tragic as she was such a wonderfully warm, generous and larger than life soul – very like her daughter, which makes this all so awful), the family seems to have fallen into warring camps all around. To the extent that certain spouses did not attend, and others including grandkids, as they were not convinced that they could refrain from turning the thing into one giant brawl. You couldn’t make it up. Damien’s spouse, however, did turn up wearing her best pastel beach dress. Apparently, funeral fashions have changed somewhat??

Sadly, all of this is likely to descend into lawyers at ten paces (my friend is a lawyer, so that does not hurt).

But I started this to muse on funerals. There were three eulogies here and perhaps, if there is one lesson to take from this, other than try and stop your family descending into this sort of morass, it is avoid eulogies like this. Seriously, if anyone comes up with anything like this at my send-off, light the match as soon as you can.

Eulogy 1. From her only cousin. Basically went like this. Well, I can’t remember what school she went to. And then we moved to the country, so I did not see much of her. We did visit once but I can’t remember where she lived. But we caught up once at Noosa. Otherwise, I hardly ever saw her.

That was it. I am not making it up.

Eulogy 2. And yes, they get worse. The bro-in-law, a lay preacher. Announced that, as everyone knew, the family had lost a daughter back in the late 50s (I certainly didn’t know and I doubt many did). Correspondence was by letter in those days and he’d kept the letters they’d written back then. Which, though I would have thought them a bit private, he read to us. Agonising. And so intrusive. And not really sure what they had to do with anything. The rest of his bit was trying to explain why every other member of his family was in town but had chosen not to attend. Possibly the most excruciating eulogy ever delivered. Until…

Eulogy 3. Middle son. While he did touch on her warmth and generosity, the vast majority of a very long eulogy was basically a dissertation on 18th and 19th century German philosophers, with a particular focus on Emmanuel Kant (I just kept expecting him to break into the Monty Python bit) and how their views related to the life of the deceased. Not at all, as far as I could see.

Music. One does not expect show tunes (although she was carried out to Doris Day), but I have been to concerts where they played less music. Sadly, it was all, aside from Doris, German religious dirges. Sung in German by the church choir who looked like they had only met that morning and it seemed, none of them spoke German.

The one moment I did love was when they started communion and someone near me suddenly said, ‘oh good, I haven’t had breakfast’ and raced up, grabbed a few bikkies and came back. Even I know that is poor form. And when I was finally able to take my leave, that very moment, the heavens opened and a fearsome Brizzy summer storm let loose oceans from above. I was soaked to the skin within about five yards and still had to go another hundred to get to the car (where my umbrella was, not that it would have helped). Just perfect!

So yes, I really, really did need a cigar after that and Rob arrived with one for the next vid, so no spoilers and I’ll slip in something else I tried this week.

But first, to show that not all funerals have to be so drainingly dire, I remember one from Uni days. The father-in-law of one of my very best mates had electrocuted himself when working in his shed. Granted, not that amusing at first glimpse but, to be fair, it turned out he was universally hated. I mean really despised. You really have never seen so many happy people, including the immediate family, at a funeral. To be honest, I’d never been fond of him since he threatened to put an axe through me and another close mate – we’d wait till our other mate would sneak into the then girlfriend’s bedroom and start serenading the two of them from the front lawn. Usually Dylan or Bruce. Our voices immeasurably improved by vast quantities of alcohol. Other mate was not happy as he reckoned if he was ever caught, the axe would be for him.

So, my mate and I are rushing for the funeral and we are horribly late. Grab a park and rush in. Standing room only, though we managed to push through and find two seats in the very back row of a very large congregation. The funeral had started. We were extremely unpopular pushing through. But we were students – yes, not a defence. Things were not helped when my mate wondered, very loudly, why on earth so many people were there. Who knew he had so many friends? Perhaps he owed them all money. That, not surprisingly, really annoyed some folk, though he had a point. But my mate was on a roll. He then told me the most absurd joke imaginable – one that must be told by shouting – and I burst into giggles, despite every effort not to. Yes, this was appallingly poor form and at that stage, it looked like we were next for the coffin.

Then, I looked around and suddenly realised I knew no one. At all.

Yep, oh s*** (pardon the French), we were at the wrong funeral. We had to push our way out through the crowd. Never have two people been so unpopular.

It was not our fault. Seems that street had two churches and they were both doing funerals. What were the chances? So we raced up the street as the much, much smaller crowd was emerging. Could have been a party. People smiling, laughing. Our friend, the son-in-law, was going around to everyone with a delighted grin, shaking hands, going (remembering the cause of death), “Shocking. Wasn’t it shocking. I’m shocked.” His wife (daughter) is desperately trying to shut him up but she gets the giggles.

People are very strange.

Anyway, a simple but delicious combo today. Apropos of bugger all, really. An aged Upmann Magnum 46 (cabinet – FIM Oct 05) which was nearing career-best form. Love an aged 46. For me, 18 months to 2 years is the absolute minimum – otherwise, you may as well use them for compost. I got to share a couple from this cabinet with Robbie McEwan, one of our great cyclists. Terrific bloke. Mate of a mate and enjoys a good cigar.

  

A good 46 has a touch of the mongrel but also rich warm earth, some woody, occasionally nutty notes and then morphs into a nice creamy character – at least for me. Gorgeous. I gave it 92, but perhaps thinking about funerals left me in an un-generous mood.

Matched it with a cracking gin – not Four Pillars for once. From Tassie, Dasher & Fisher ‘Meadow’ Gin. They have several, including an Ocean and a Mountain. I thought that I’d post the thoughts and details from our local distributor as they cover it better than I could.

“45% ABV. It’s not hard to see why this modern style is the most popular retail gin of the Dasher + Fisher range (at the distillery’s cellar door in Devonport). With primary notes driven by wild meadow florals, such as lavender, coriander and sage, and appealing overtones of citrus, it’s certainly the prettiest gin to nose. Then the palate, which is plump and sweet, with botanical oils and punchy herbal and citrus notes leaping from the glass before tightening and giving way to a lingering echo of juniper. It works beautifully in a G&T garnished with a slice of ruby grapefruit and also works brilliantly in a negroni.

STYLE: Tasmanian Modern Gin; BOTANICALS: 15 botanicals including lavender, juniper, fresh orange, herbs (including wild bay, rosemary and sage) picked from local gardens and fields, coriander, cardamom, wild fennel, wakame seaweed and Tasmanian Highland pepperberries. CHARACTERISTICS: Seasonally fresh and a sweet palate of wild meadow florals and sappy freshness. PRIMARY NOTES: Lavender, coriander, fresh oranges, rosemary, sage, and undertones of juniper.”

I had it with the Strangelove Bitter Lemon tonic. Truly inspired. And the entire thing worked as well as could be hoped.

Feel free to serve this when I descend into the fiery pits of hell.

KBG


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