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1 May 2023

A breakage means I might soon be drinking wine from a jam jar, like an effing hipster

My long, unfortunate history with wine glasses continues.

By Nicholas Lezard

And then there were none.

The final wine glass broke last night. OK, I broke it. But it was only a matter of time. Wine glasses see a lot of use where I live, for some reason, and the attrition rate in the Hove-l is higher than it has been in other abodes because of the minuscule size of the kitchen: a stray movement of an unrolled sleeve or unfastened fleece (I can’t fasten it because the zip has failed) in a cramped space can cause havoc. And so it has done again. I am now only one Duralex-style glass away from having to drink my wine out of a mug, or an empty jam jar like an effing hipster.

Man, I loved those glasses. They were the best I’ve had in a long, long time. Sturdy yet graceful, and clearly costing a bob or two, they were a present from a neighbour when I told her I was moving from my flat to the Hove-l. We became friends when I complimented her on her T-shirt: this was a good move because she was studying fashion design and had made it herself, and I hadn’t known that. I became friendly with her boyfriend too, but the sad thing is that I have forgotten her name and I have no contact details. If any of you know a bright young woman who studied fashion and lived on Dyke Road in 2020, say hi from me.

But as I said, wine glasses and I have a history, which is odd as I hardly touch the stuff. A long time ago I bought a set from Habitat and learned the hard way why that shop is nicknamed “shabby tat” by the posh. They were made not from glass but from breakonium, the most fragile substance on Earth; sometimes it seemed as though harsh language could make them fall apart. Luckily, as a reviewer, I kept being sent jiffy bags containing books and these became very helpful for disposing of the remains. Tout passetout cassetout lasse.

[See also: The brutality of ballet]

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In order to stave off the entropy I went on a wild tidying spree. I recommend doing this after having a few so that when you get up you think the place has been tidied up by supernatural forces and in a way it has. I found a couple of potatoes that had sprouted at the back of the cupboard so I planted them and they now sit next to Sunny, the autograph tree that my friend D– left behind when she visited from Leeds last year. (Yes, I name my plants. What are you going to do about it? D– gave me sunflower seeds for my birthday last year and I named the plants Hortense and Gervaise. Sunny is called that because the label stuck into the soil says “sunny room”, so it has a surname too. I am not going to name the potatoes, that would be crazy. I’d become attached to them and wouldn’t be able to bring myself to eat them when the time came, it’s pretty much the first rule of gardening.)

I have to say that if letting things get messy is a sign of depression then tidying up helps an awful lot. It hugely alleviated the melancholy caused by the death of the last wine glass. Taking the empties out to the recycling bin – two tote-bags’ full, their canvas groaning like sails in a heavy wind; some of the bottles I recognised from Christmas – increased the available space in the flat by about 30 per cent. What gloom remaining in the soul has been lifted by the excellent advice of Huw Pill, the Bank of England’s chief economist, who has told everyone to “accept that they are poorer”. Why didn’t I think of this before? As it happens, this month should be better than normal, finance-wise, assuming payment from a big job completed in February goes through.

I wonder what I’ll spend the extra money on. For a mad minute I thought I’d get my teeth fixed, but then I remembered that the last time I looked into it (a woman who was toying with the idea of having sex with me sent me to a private clinic) I was quoted a price of £500, and that was seven years ago. That was that as far as the sex was concerned.

I look at the Loake boots, bought three years ago when I was similarly flush, and the sole has started peeling away in the manner of Withnail’s. (“This is ridiculous. Look at me, I’m 30 in a month and I’ve got a sole flapping off my shoe.” Change that 30 to a 60 for the picture as it applies to me.) And then I check the post and see that instead of luxuries such as shoes and teeth, I’ll have to piss it all away on tax and heating. But I shall keep a bit aside to buy myself another wine glass. You never know when it will come in handy.

[See also: The Earth Transformed: Don’t believe the hype]

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This article appears in the 03 May 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Beneath the Crown