Bill Jenkins, a lover and long-time supporter of Myattsfield wines, has recently produced his first book of poetry. Bill spent his early years in a small fishing village in northern Scotland – in fact his granddad, a carpenter, made Ramsay McDonald’s coffin and led the funeral cortège to the graveyard in Spynie where he is interred. McDonald was a founding figure in the British Labour Party, and the first Labour Prime Minister. Another Scot, Andrew Fisher, was, of course, the second ALP Prime Minister of Australia showing the influence Scots had on the labour movement here and in the UK.
Anyway, that is just an aside — Bill has lived in the Perth Hills for the past 40 years or so, working as an academic, psychotherapist and hospice chaplain and his poetry reflects his experience in helping people at their most vulnerable.
There is a bleakness in many of the poems, although often uplifted by a flash of hope – in Trivia he exclaims “The end will not be natural disaster, Or annihilation by total war, It will be complete trivialisation, Demolition of meaning…” perfectly capturing the current obsession with celebrity over reality.
In For God’s Sake he reflects on the claim that the horrors inflicted on many around the world – “..men degraded, tortured, murdered, And boys, girls, women, Young and old, raped, slaughtered” are all in the name of God – “I don’t think so” he says. This is an indictment of Islamic and other terrorists who proclaim a higher cause for the terrible wrongs they do, but can also apply to those pseudo Christians in our Parliament who turn a blind eye to the children in detention on Nauru.
In Election Again he nails the false hopes and promises of mealy mouthed politicians – “Can you feel the lead in the air? Every breath burdened by promises that will never be kept, Every ballooning and mockingly sincere lie….” For me that is the execrable Scott Morrison writ large.
But there is always hope that we can survive. “In the orchard, At the end of an apricot branch, A yellowed leaf is touched by the breeze, It trembles but doesn’t fall” (The Apricot Leaf).
And in Dawdling Down the Street Bill gives a glimpse of humour in a rather bleak world “…I’m told what to think, And it’s never nice. Apparently I’m supposed to hate, Muslims, refugees, black people, And bankers. I have no trouble with the latter, But what have the former ever done, To me or anyone else?”
This an endearing little collection which reminds us “Every life is the same life”. Would that Peter Dutton could understand that simple thought.
As I said, Bill is a great lover of Myattsfield wines and one of his favourites is their Touriga. The grapes are usually used for their fortified but every couple of years Rachael gets the chance to create a dry table wine. Touriga Nacional is regarded as one of the finest of the Portuguese grapes and although mainly used in the production of port it is increasingly being used to make table wine so it is apt Rachael gets to do the same.
The 2016 Left Field Club Touriga is the latest release and has bright red hue, with a fragrant bouquet of plums, blackberries and violets, with a hint of minty spice. Fine, gravelly tannins which will soften further with age lead a palate of blueberries, plums, cocoa and nutmeg. A lovely wine which will age nicely, and a great accompaniment to a poem or two.
Of course, on a warm sunny day like today, a glass of rosé will also be a fine companion to a poetry reading and in the 2018 Myattsfield Rosé they have just the one. Made from Mourvèdre and Shiraz it is pale salmon in colour; lovely crushed rose petals, red apples and cherries on the nose, with a crisp, dry palate of raspberries, dried strawberries and a little spice to finish. Mmmm….
Poetry and plonk? Robert Louis Stevenson, another Scot, once said “Wine is bottled poetry” so I guess they just go together!
Bill’s book of poems “We Carry the Cave” will be officially launched at Myattsfield on November 24th, between 3 and 5PM. No doubt a drop or two of Myattsfield will be available as well.