Help, I need some advice. What do you give a wine magazine for its 25th birthday? How about 25 rolls of Galerie Art Gloss wood-free three-layer clay-coated paper, unfined and unfiltered. Or a Melchizedek of ink (okay, that’s 30 litres, but I’ll find an ullaged one). Or how about a gift-wrapped brand new 25-year-old reader?
I’m stumped. If it was a 25-year-old wine buff I was buying for, I’d be fine. “Come on,” I’ve said to quite a few of them. “You’re young. Don’t squander your precious youth in a gloomy cellar. Particularly mine. Get out there and discover the glorious world of wine. Go to Pamplona and run with the bulls. Go to Beaujoulais and run with the waiters.”
Generally, their eyes light up and not just because I’m shining my cellar torch in their face.
“Here’s a little something,” I say, “to at least get you over there.” And I press into their hands my birthday gift to them. A wine-resistant plastic cover for their passport. And off they go. If not to Spain, at least to Dan Murphy’s.
But how do you find something as unforgettable as that for a wine magazine? Specially one that has everything. Its own spittoons, for example. Not rented ones, fully capitalised assets. And its own wine experts who can use the spittoons expertly. Which I wish I had known before I gift-wrapped all those plastic funnels.
Trouble is, youngsters are hard to buy for, it’s a known fact. I’m sure I’m not the only person this year who’s bought a 25-year-old a VHS player. If only this damn magazine wasn’t so young. If only it had a few more years under its belt. If only ... hang on! Yes, of course. I’ve just remembered the time I went into the newsagent’s and they were having a bicentennial afternoon tea for the Women’s Weekly.
“Two hundred years?’ I said. “Frank Packer started the Women’s Weekly in 1933; 1932 if you count the first few editions he did at home on his Gestetner,” I pointed out.
“Ah,” said the newsagent. “But you’re forgetting that magazines are like dogs. And hypothetical superluminal particles. They completely disrespect the normal boundaries of time.”
I stared at him. And thought about the Women’s Weekly, which comes out monthly.
“Which is why,” said the newsagent, “there are dog years, and magazine years.”
Yippee. Our beloved GT Wine Mag is actually 139 years old. Problem solved. Nobody’s easier to buy for than an oldie. Mail-order crocheted spittoon cosies on the way. With a few elastic-sided corkscrews thrown in.
And, of course, loads and loads of loose-topped socks. Because now I understand what gives away the true age of a magazine. How often it goes on about its circulation.