Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Ken Gargett


Upmann Magnum 50 | Flor de Cana 18-Year-Old

Why does everything have to be so difficult?

I’ll confess that I may not be the easiest person to deal with, and I am making a genuine effort to get in less disputes than usual, but at times, I just despair.

At the moment, I have three matters that are, shall we say, in debate. Naturally, none are my fault. And I assure you that three is far less than usual.

The first. Couriers. Lord spare me from couriers. Some are good but some are so bone lazy I wonder how they get up in the morning. As I travel a bit, I try and make certain that deliveries are not simply left outside. Who knows what has been stolen over the years? The crowning glory was a dill who knew he was not supposed to leave anything if I was not in, but decided he could get around that by hiding the six-pack he had. So, he broke through a doorway into a courtyard, and when I say broke, I mean damaged the doorway, which really pissed me off, and hid the six-pack. Now, these were expensive wines. The six-pack was worth $500 to $600 (I hasten to add, a set of samples, not a purchase).

And where did Einstein hide the six-pack? In the compost bin. Seriously. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell anyone. So a month later, I found a rather smelly rotting carton in the muck. Special. The winery replaced them, but still?

This was a little less mindless but only just. I have a large sign outside which says, “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE ANY DELIVERIES IF NO ONE IS HOME”. I have been home for the last few days so any courier can simply knock or walk into the courtyard and see me – all of five yards. But no, he puts the carton next to the sign. Perhaps he thought that was funny. Not sure his bosses will think it quite so funny when their client, the winery, gets in touch.

The next one – the Council. They have decided, for reasons unknown, that my bit of footpath is to be left to become an overgrown crapheap. The rest of the street, and yes, we are in the semi-rural bush suburbs, is done superbly. Granted I have had a few past run-ins. Our former Councillor’s name included the word, ‘Witt’. Locals tended to include the word, ‘half’, when referring to her. Term of endearment? Possibly not, if you had to deal with her. Fortunately, she is gone but the problems remain.

My first run-in came a few weeks after I moved in, years ago. Saw a bloke out the front on the footpath (when you could walk on it) and went out to see what he wanted. Told me that a large gum tree was dead and needed to be removed. I pointed out that it was full of green leaves so hardly seemed dead and told him to leave it alone. Two weeks later, another bloke. Went out and told him that the tree was not dead. He looked at me like I was an imbecile and told me that of course it was not dead but it could easily fall onto my house.

Get it out now!!

Well, then started many many months of chasing the Council to try and find out when they were removing it. ‘Yes Minister’ could take lessons. Eventually, I rang my local Councillor – remember dear old half… – and got some assistant who promised me she would ring me later that day to confirm all was in order and tell me when it would be removed. I thought if I heard the next day, that would be good enough.

A week later, nothing. I ring again. The gumby I get assures me that there is no such person working there. It is a suburban council office – I doubt that there would be ten people (lord knows what they’d do if there was). And they have never heard of a member of staff? Eventually she works out who it was. We speak. Nothing has been done. She ends up by telling me that they really are very busy and I should not bother them in storm season. I’m serious. You could not make it up.

I continue to hassle people – I’m reasonably good at that. Finally, the Council explains that they cannot remove the tree as it is near powerlines and so Energex or whoever, the energy authority, has to remove the top half of the tree first. Again, seriously?

This goes on and on and finally I get dates from both of them.

I contact both of them to ask if they are aware that the Council has scheduled the removal of the bottom half of the tree the week before Energex is taking the top half. I ask how they intend to suspend the top half in mid-air for the week. They are not impressed. Join the club. Remember, this tree is over 100 foot high and will kill anyone near it when it comes down.

I have had a gutful. I write a joint letter to the Council/Councillor Half…/Energex/the Lord Mayor/ my lawyers (well, the mob I used to work for), detailing all this and pointing out the lack of intelligence with everyone involved. I’m sure that helped. Legal action is threatened, especially when it kills a child.

The result. Nothing. Nada! No one gives a toss.

Now I am really pissed.

Another letter to all of the same people but I had a brainwave. At the time, I was doing a wine column for the Courier Mail, the state’s main newspaper. I copy in my editor, at the Courier Mail. I may have forgotten to mention that she was the food and wine editor. Around this time, the Council was heading to an election.

I detailed all the promises which had been broken, what a farce this has become, the failure of the Councillor to do anything – “more useless than a dead jellyfish washed up on the beach”, told the Lord Mayor I did not want to hear from his lackies covering their arse or the Keystone Kops at Energex.

Well, I suspect that seeing the words, ‘Courier Mail’ electrocuted them into action. Last thing that they wanted was anything in the paper that might suggest that they were as incompetent as they really were. That day, I had three heads of departments from the Council on the phone and more. One of the heads of Energex assures me that everything will be done in seconds.  Next thing I know, a huge Council truck, with about 20 people all in emergency gear, arrives. They jump off with axes and hoses and who knows what. Where is the emergency, they ask.

The local Councillor? Well, a junior rang up denying everything – I had contemporaneous notes of our calls (being a lawyer does promote good habits) – and telling me they intended to sue me. I begged her to do it and explained counterclaims. I pleaded with her not to make idle threats but to file immediately. Needless to say, I heard nothing.

The tree was gone pronto.

But back to now, clearly they have decided to let me disappear into a jungle. Do we have an election coming up?

The third one. Rentokil – long story short, I’m on a monthly direct debit from the credit card. But it expired and neither of us noticed. Then I get a claim for four months. No problem, happy to pay. But I cannot follow what they are claiming so go back over my accounts, only to discover that a few months earlier, they had been taking double payments out of my account each month. They do not really want to discuss this. (IF YOU ARE WITH RENTOKIL, MAY I SUGGEST YOU CHECK BACK OVER YOUR ACCOUNTS TO MAKE CERTAIN YOU ARE NOT BEING RIPPED OFF). I have had three managers all promise to sort it out, but then they disappear, someone else gets involved and insists I pay the full whack and they will not even address the dodgy withdrawals they made. Needless to say, they are not getting diddly till it is sorted.

All of which means I need a cigar more than I usually do (and writing all this has made certain I need one after this).

I went with a regular in the rotation, the H. Upmann Magnum 50 EMA MAY 08. And with it, a stunning rum, the Flor de Cana 18-Year-Old.

What a lovely cigar this is. Complex, with good richness and spicy notes. A really lovely caramel note came through and this was perfect for the rum. The 18-Year-Old is a glorious rum with great complexity and near perfect balance. It is dense but it dances. Molasses and honey notes (for some reason, the molasses from the sugarcane in the FdC fields gives a much higher level of sweetness in the molasses). But what really stands out is the wonderful caramel notes. It worked superbly here. A great combo.

Enough to make dealing with idiots not quite the chore one might think.

Worth noting that this might be the sweet spot for the Talisman. The caramel notes that they both exhibit would work perfectly in tandem. If Rob wants to test that theory, I’m up for it. I have the rum…


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