I am writing to you because I recognise you as being on the edge of my life for the whole of my life.
I always liked the bottles you came in – your Gordon’s version a comforting deep green, your Plymouth version with the ship in full sail on the label, (don’t I remember an anchor too? Maybe not). When I was born, you sat in the cabinet in the bungalow. When I first started to walk your bottles were about eye level, tantalisingly close but locked out of reach.
It’s your smell that I remember most. When I drink you now, it brings up memories of my parents. Partying or not partying, they drank you. Mum would have a gin and tonic, Dad would have a pink gin, a drink he had grown to like in the navy during the war. The Angostura bitters have a special place in my memory too. But they drank you in greater quantity than we would consider now – whether to forget or to remember or to enjoy, I never knew.
As a child, being kissed goodnight by someone who has had a couple or more of gins was always a hit or miss affair – not unpleasant, just hit or miss.
When I stopped being a child – (I never entirely stopped to be honest), you were still around. I remember one incident at university . . . no, perhaps I won’t go into that. You have never been my preferred drink, just a special one.
Now I read that you are becoming fashionable again. There are new gins, in fancy bottles, with distinct tastes. And new tonics to try with them – the same Angostura I hope. Be(a)ware of fashion. Fashion is good, but the undertow speaks of competition, economies and corporate survival. One day you are there and on top, the next you are sinking and having to try harder. You tinker with the details. From the outside comes admonition from the pinch-lipped. “So much is enough”, “this is excess” and regulation distract you. And you lose your original reason for being.
This is not about excess. This is about special moments. All I ask is to sit with with one or two friends and you in your fine glass, early in the evening, perhaps outdoors as the sun sets, and to taste one of the defining tastes of my lifetime.
Thank you for the pleasure you have given me over the years.