....if the Drosselgasse is a dangerous place in which to dawdle, it is
but a kindergarten compared to a weinfest. A weinfest, or a wine
festival, sets out to be a pleasant festivity in praise and honour
of the grape, and wine festivals are held in the autumn in many of
the little towns along the grape-growing parts of the Rhine.
Now the grape is a very funny fruit. A very funny fruit indeed. A
beautiful symbol of abundance, I grant you, but a tricky little devil.
The growing of him is tricky. He needs the right amount of sun, the
right amount of rain; he has to be sprayed to keep him free of the
fungus. He's picked, and trodden, and bottled, and watched, and turned,
and tasted , and tested, to produce a drink so subtle, so refreshing,
so satisfying... a drink that so pleasantly draws you back a few paces
from the cliff edge of harsh reality. A wonderful fruit is the grape..
..if he's treated properly. For the grape must, above all things, be
appreciated . It's got to be appreciated.
The moment you cease to
appreciate the grape and treat him like any old glass of tipple,
he will let loose a vengeance on one and all that has to be seen to
be believed. And if you don't believe me, visit a wine festival on the Rhine
one wet September day, and get a load of the havoc the wine will work
on those who lose their appreciation.
To start with, a wine festival is a very pretty affair. They
decorate the village with dark green foliage, and flowers, and flags.
They put up marquees, and trestle tables with tablecloths. They
hang streamers from pillar to post. They drag out the sausages
and sauerkraut. They put on the Sunday best, and summon the German band,
and trundle out the barrels and the bottles. It's all good, clean
fun to start with, I imagine, but we didn't get there at the start.
We got there at about half-past three in the afternoon, just as it
was beginning to drizzle. We parked the car outside the village
and walked up towards the village square. And then this life-size rag doll
came hurtling down the road towards us, except that it wasn't a rag
doll; it was a very floppy man.
When he passed us, every bit of
control has left him. He was just like - a rag doll. He had started off
on his way, and had developed a nasty stagger in all directions, and now,
desperately trying to correct this terrible stagger he was gaining
momentum and practically cartwheeling downhill, legs and arms flying.
A rag doll being shaken by a terrier.
He came to a thundering stop when
he hit a brick wall, trying to avoid a group of men coming up the hill.
They picked him up, and dusted him down, and, hanging on to them, he
came back with them up the hill to join the wine festival once again.
He was still good for a couple more bottles, he thought. But I don't
think he made it, for we saw him, half an hour later, out for the count
near the bandstand.
It's quite astonishing the effect wine has on
body control. I've never seen it demonstrated as actively as at this wine
festival. People falling about all over the place.
Not everybody, of course, for it's
rather like the Drosselgasse ; there are those that over-indulge, and there are those that don't.
Those that don't over-indulge stand about, and chat in the rain,
underneath umbrellas. The sound of wine glasses smashing and trestle tables collapsing
moves them not...
That young man has collapsed onto a trestle table. The
road swills with wine and broken glass. And ... we'd talked to him just
half an hour ago. He spoke a little English; wanted a little practice. He
was all right then, but the wine poleaxed him, wallop...like that .....they
lay him to rest on the town hall steps, and the rain drips and drips, and
the railway trains pound up and down the railway lines, beside the Rhine... .
Still, I will say this, for a good weinfest; if you're troubled by noises in the
night, and can't sleep, and you have no sleeping pills, put in a short burst at
a weinfest, just before bedtime. But only a short burst.
transcribed from the 1983 recording by
Nigel Deacon (2006) / Diversity website
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