The disappointingly dull explanation, when recounted to me in my childhood, of how a ship got into a bottle failed then, as now, to raise more than a bored ooh, or a stifled aah. Why one should choose to put, by necessity, a thoroughly pedestrian artifact into a purpose designed container which, though suitable for a ship in that it can contain water, is unquestionably at its apogee when filled with fine wine, is a good example of the devil being asleep when a pair of idle hands could have been doing something far more interesting than erecting a mast with a piece of cotton…although, on reflection, I can see that the devil’s suggestion might have been misunderstood. It would, however, be safe to say that the medical profession or, to be fair to that legion of doctors who do not shirk their turn at the bar, its government spokespeople, would be much happier if the majority of bottles were filled with shoes or ships or sealing wax rather than strong drink which is apparently proving to be the downfall, or the fall down, of our once great nation ( I use this phrase as it must be the most commonly used on radio talk shows – why I listen to them at all is yet more evidence of the devil not doing his work properly). These medical spokespeople have wished us a happy new year by letting us know that each glass of wine that we drink is equivalent, in calories, to eating a doughnut or, more colourfully, a bottle of wine would equate to three hamburgers. I am aware, from the evidence I glean from television and radio, that obesity is becoming more and more commonplace. My New Year good tidings to all of you, who read my ramblings, are that in this small corner of France, where wine is far cheaper and more available than either doughnuts or hamburgers, the sight of a fat arse is a rarity….so drink up and Happy New Year.