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Phil Oxera

Published:  18 January, 2007

After a hard day of fomenting hatred, picking on ethnic minorities and misspelling tattoos, many a fascist - from Goebbels, to Allan Clarke, to Jean-Marie LePen - has liked nothing more than to relax with a glass of wine. Alas, for your average British fascist, so much wine is made by forriners, innit? So where's a good honest Ingerlish patriot wine drinker to turn? Step forward the BNP, whose website offers - alongside such exquisite and ethnically pure knick-knacks as a letter-opener in the shape of Excalibur and a set of German folk songs - a choice of BNP-branded British' wines.

Hard-core supporters will certainly be tempted by the labels, which feature BNP leader and pin-up Nick Griffin posing with a defiant V for Victory sign. They might be somewhat dismayed, however, that the party has abandoned its whites only' policy to offer both a red and an uncharacteristically inclusive-sounding mixed' case. And heaven only knows what they'll make of winemaker Pete Mullins's confession that the wines are largely made from grapes grown not in Cornwall, as suggested, but in that wishy-washy, liberal home of the successful racial melting pot, Canada.

Still, if wine isn't up to the task of providing a satisfactorily British drinking experience, then surely cider - reliable fuel since time immemorial for stout yeomen up and down this great country of ours - cannot be accused of being anything less than 100% British except for them French ones, but we'll ignore them for now, and anyway Normandy's pretty much British anyway, or should be, and them Irish ones and and (enough of the rabid fascist impressions, thanks Phil - Ed). Anyway, last week Phil happened to find himself at an event held in London by leading British cider brand Gaymer's (probably not a brand with appeal for your average BNP foot soldier, all things considered). After discussing the current success of the cider category, one of the assembled had what can only be described as a Eureka moment. Wouldn't it be a good idea', she mused aloud, to make a cider made from pears?' As graciously as was possible in the circumstances, Gaymer Cider Company MD John Mills slowly pulled the rug from beneath her entrepreneurial feet. Erm, we do actually have a perry at the moment. It does about 50 million bottles a year. It's called Babycham'

Phil has often wondered about the origins of the name Domaine de la Romane-Conti, and during a meeting with DRC proprietor Aubert de Villaine, he was privy to the latest thinking on the subject. The name was taken, de Villaine said, not, as many people believe, from some connection with the Romans, but from roumanille, the Occitaine word for un hectare, which is roughly the size of the eponymous grand cru. Flushed with pride at this etymological scoop, Phil decided to share his wisdom with one of the world's leading Burgundy authorities, who, as luck would have it, was just in the process of preparing a sale of DRC wines at a leading auction house. The authority was gratifyingly grateful for the information, which arrived in the nick of time to appear in all the sale's publicity literature. It was at this point that Phil decided to run the explanation by M de Villaine one last time. Un 'ectare? That would be an interesting explanation, certainly,' de Villaine began in his impeccably polite French, although we tend to think that the more likely translation would be "un nectar"'

Aside from being perhaps the most pessimistic person ever to put pen to paper, the 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was renowned for arguing that the world was not a rational place. Were he around today and looking for proof of his worldview, then he could do worse than start in the crazy world of Italian wine, which provided the following dose of irrationality, printed on the back label of Sicilian producer Firriato's 2002 Nero d'Avola Harmonium. The philosopher Schopenhauer once wrote that "architecture is frozen music". We at Firriato, on the other hand, believe that "wine is liquid music". To prove it, we created Harmonium: variations on a Nero d'Avola theme as a musician would mark it. Just taste the symphony of flavours.' Reading this put Phil in the mood for another of Schopenhauer's observations: There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome - to be got over.'

One gets the impression that Hollywood actress and full-time health Nazi Gwyneth Paltrow probably has a similar view of life to that of laughing boy Schopenhauer. Paltry told The Guardian recently that she really doesn't like drunk women; I think it is such a bad look. I think it's very inappropriate, and I don't like it.' (Which begs the question: how does she manage to get through her husband's concerts?) Still, while the Government may be fretting about the rising incidence of female binge drinking, at least things are better for Gwynnie than they would have been in Inca Peru. According to new evidence uncovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Chicago recently, Inca women around 600ad loved a drink so much that they'd ignore the men and brew their own beer-like maize drink. This they would use to fuel wild rituals, which would take the form of crockery-smashing, dancing, feasting and, finally, the complete destruction of their brewery. Puts the girls of Falaraki to shame.

Perhaps only the Russians, of modern-day drinking nations, can really compete with the Incas. Per capita consumption in the former Soviet countries stands at around 24 pints of pure alcohol a year, and an estimated 27,000 Russians die every year of alcohol poisoning. But it's not just the humans who like a drink. According to a report about a travelling circus on Russian news website regnum, the country's elephants are also partial to a bevvy or three. According to a trainer quoted in the report, the elephants consume the vodka with pleasure', knocking back a mixture of one bottle of vodka per one bucket of water. As heart-warming as this story is, it is Phil's sad duty to inform you that, as with humans, not all elephants are responsible drinkers. Yesterday we gave a bucket of vodka to one of the elephants,' said the trainer, and after drinking it he tore off a central-heating radiator.' What's the Russian for rock 'n' roll?