The Duke - May 20, 2015

Brogan Renshaw of Holmfirth Vineyard, near Holmebridge on the Pennine slopes of West Yorkshire, toasts the success of this year's crop with a glass of Seyval
Brogan Renshaw of Holmfirth Vineyard, near Holmebridge on the Pennine slopes of West Yorkshire, toasts the success of this year's crop with a glass of Seyval
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I came home earlier than anticipated the other day to discover The Manager doing something I haven’t seen her (or anyone) do for a long time.

Politely requesting an explanation she looked up sheepishly and explained: “I’m handwriting a letter to my cousin.”

Handwriting? A letter? What madness was this?

My first thought was that the laptop must have broken or she’d mislaid her mobile 
telephone again.

The only things I thought she wrote by hand were the lists of “little jobs” for me to do which are left out on an increasingly regular basis and the shopping lists which are still more a spontaneous chain of thought than anything which relates to the layout of whatever shop I’m despatched to – or even what we actually need.

“If it’s good enough for Prince Charles then it’s good enough for me,” she said, seemingly oblivious to the fact that most of the much publicised royal missives were mainly hand typed rather than handwritten – apart from the spidery bits at the end.

“I didn’t know your cousin gave the time of day to the plight of Patagonian toothfish, badger culls or architectural carbuncles,” I replied in a futile attempt to show I was keeping up to date with his Windsorship’s latest 15 minutes in the headline spotlight.

“I often write letters – it’s more personal,” she replied adding: “And it’s your turn to cook the dinner.”

It would have served her right if I hadn’t fried any chips to go with the Patagonian toothfish.

As for what wine you serve with unsustainable seafood I wasn’t sure.

We’ve had a bottle of Regent-Rondo-Seyval medium dry rosé tucked away for some time now – ready for a very rainy day.

Despite its exotic name it actually hails from the enterprising but less than glamorous Holmfirth Vineyard, just a few hilly miles from Huddersfield – so it’s fair to assume it has already seen its fair share of rainy days.

It was actually twice the price of The Manager’s usual favourite tipple – a rosé from the far more glamorous vineyards of Provence. So the uncorking moment (yes, they still use real corks in Yorkshire) will be chosen carefully. Little did we realise when we happened upon the Holmfirth Vineyard (nice café and toilets by the way) was that sales of British wine are surging, with vineyards delivering vintage crops to rival those of France.

Waitrose registered a 95 per cent increase from 2013 to 2014, other supermarkets have notched up increases of up to 177 per cent.

It could be because there are more to choose from, it could be that they have actually improved drastically or it might be that they don’t make you as fat. What?

Yes, the latest brainwave to come from the MEPs at the EU is to make it a legal requirement for alcoholic drinks to be labelled with their calorific content. This, they claim, will make us more aware of when we have reached the recommended daily calorie intake and therefore slow down on our drinking.

They don’t seem to realise that if anyone really does take any notice of such things they will more likely cut out a bit more food to allow for a drop more alcohol.

Either that or we will be queueing up for Slim Jim’s Skinny Blonde Ale at the bar rather than Beer Belly’s Best Belt Buster Bitter before heading home for a Calorie Counter’s Cabbage Kebab.

The Royal Society for Public Health reckons more than two thirds of people approve of calorie labelling alcoholic drinks.

Or maybe they just said that because they were on their way to pub and didn’t want slowing down?

Offence I took at Channel 4 drama

Being a big fan of “Nordic noir” (dark and intelligent television dramas from Scandinavia such as The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen) I’m quite looking forward to the imminent arrival of “Deutsch schwarz” (similar quality stuff from Germany including Deutschland 83 and Babylon Berlin).

That’s not to say I don’t also get hooked on British series which I don’t have to stay awake enough to follow the subtitles of.

Take No Offence on Channel 4 for example.

No subtitles (though one character needs them) but plenty of darkness along with excellently cynical Northern (English) humour.

But it let itself down badly last week.

The storyline involves serial murder and/or rape of vulnerable women, a string of drug related deaths and a black cat which terrifies one of the characters into delivering it a wallop.

Given that the thump on its nose was about as realistic as a politician’s promise I was surprised (well, in fact, disappointed) that the episode ended with a disclaimer that “no animals were injured during the filming of this programme.”

Why not follow that with “no actresses were raped or murdered, no cast members really took a drug overdose and, by the way, it wasn’t actually real alcohol they were all drinking”?

Please credit viewers with some intelligence.