My Uncle Tom was a wine snob. He was also a swine nob, “nob” of course being shorthand for “noble”. Uncle Tom’s cabin, where he spent the summer months, as also those of autumn, winter, and spring, was next to a pig sty, and he was a sort of Lord of the Pigs, similar in some ways to the Lord of the Flies, but with pigs rather than flies. Which is not to say there were no flies in his realm, for god knows they were legion. But whereas the pigs were devoted to Uncle Tom, and considered him their Lord and Saviour, the flies showed no such obeisance. Why would they?
Underneath Uncle Tom’s cabin was his wine cellar, bottle after bottle after bottle after bottle after bottle in serried horizontal ranks on his subterranean shelving racks. He was particularly fond of cabernet sauvignon, which had a couple of shelves all to itself. None of the pigs ever got to go down the iron spiral staircase into the cellar. Uncle Tom did not want any of his bottles accidentally smashed by a clumsy lumbering and perhaps terrified pig.
Uncle Tom was a great friend of the legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. They had formed a close bond one day in the 1950s. My uncle never betrayed any of Lev’s confidences, no matter how much I badgered him, and boy did I badger him! Whenever he felt my badgering became too much, he pushed me into the pig sty and locked the gate so I could not get out. You would think I would have learned my lesson, and ceased being such a pest about Lev Yashin, but that would be to impute a semblance of sense to me, as a child. But I had none, and there are those who say I still don’t.