Richard Siddle: life as we know it at Vinexpo
You know that feeling when you walk through passport control and in to the departures lounge of an airport and it is like stepping in to a parallel universe. A place where nothing seems normal and whatever you do or how much money you spend will have any bearing on life in the real world?
Well welcome to life as we know it at Vinexpo. The place is even laid out to look like the vast, long, endless corridors of a major international airport. Enormous stands stretch out into the distance like glamorous first class check in areas.
The huge numbers of people from every corner of the world only add to the notion that you have entered a seperate world. A five day voyage around the globe all for the price of an Easy Jet return flight to Bordeaux.\
The king of this Bordeaux universe - Monsieur Beynat - (who interestingly is always referred to as Monsieur even by his closest staff members) only adds to the unreal state of things by referring to Vinexpo as a living, breathing organism rather than just a trade exhibition. Vinexpo is more like a mini state passing democracy and wisdom around the world. You almost expect him to pass judgement on the International Monetary Fund or the merits of quantative easing. Thinking of which I should have asked him and passed his views on to the Chancellor and Bank of England.
So please excuse those of us currently living in the Vinexpo bubble. We have our registration numbers, our electronic passes, our matching blue Vinexpo bags and like Patrick McGowan in the Prisoner we are all immersed
in our own sub world.
Occasionally we might receive contact from the outside world, but nothing outside the lac de Bordeaux really seems to matter.
Apparently Wimbledon has started, some Irish fella has beaten all records in a golf tournament and England have crashed out of a major international football championship.
Meanwhile back in Vinexpo world you can travel from Argentina to Slovenia via Corsica and Brazil. You can sip Champagne and discuss the economic difficulties of international trade in what seems like the McLaren Formula One motor home.
You can taste your way through what Richard E Grant would probably call "the finest wines known to all humanity". And then queue up to eat food that forced Egon Ronay to single handedly take on catering facilities on British motorway service stations.
But where else can you see the world's biggest and most influential wine folk brush up alongside each other and no doubt get up to all kinds of power sharing deals behind the scenes.
Yes, everyone has and shares their most awful Vinexpo stories.A bit like returning holidaymakers bragging about how awful their flight, car hire or villa was. But you have to be here yourself to fully appreciate such tales of derring due. How your luggage was so delayed that you had been home for two weeks before it turned up. Or how it was so hot you had to put ice in your Petrus to stop it exploding.
So for all of you at Vinexpo you'll know what I mean and for those of you back at home, welcome to our world!