The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Wine and music have much in common, and my tastes in both are very wide. I confess to being a failed classical musician - when I was at school I had dreams of being a trumpet player and composer. I was pretty good at trumpet, at least in the small home counties town where I grew up. I passed exams with merit and distinction. And then I hit London, and mixed with real musicians. I became frustrated at hearing everything I wanted in my head, but never in my playbacks.. I had the good sense to realise that in classical music there is no second division, packed my dreams away, and have never picked up my trumpet since.

If I had to name my all-time favorite film and TV score composer it would, without doubt, be Ennio Morricone, who died on 6th July 2020. Morricone was a composer and trumpet player, reaching heights I could only fantasise about. Some of my friends would opt for John Williams as their top movie composer, but I can find his scores heavy and ponderous, and not always in keeping with the on-screen imagery. A touch of the McLaren Vale Shiraz with Veal Milanese, if you get my drift. Morricone is agile, deft, haunting, demanding, futuristic and retrospective. As YouTube commentator ericynot notes, 'he literally invented a new genre of music, and no one since has been able to match its unique emotional resonance. Rock meets opera meets folk meets Wagnerian epic symphony.' You can feel all of this in Morricone - Of course some of Morricone's most famous scores are for Spaghetti Westerns, including 'One Upon A Time In The West' and 'The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly'. Which brings to the heart of this post.

It is well known that we men (I'm not sorry to stereotype) can have issues with multitasking. So I sometimes find that carrying out internet desk research while listening to Morricone or Puccini and sipping a wine that matches the music to be one task too many. Indeed, one of these has to give way. But which one? The wine develops in the glass and, as we all know, the last glass can be much more exhilarating than the first. The music can send a different shiver down the spine each time it is played: sometimes a light, female finger, other times the tremble as somebody walks across my grave, and sometimes the steel of a cold knife. As for the internet research - all too often I never quite finish the journey I set out on, or I reach a different destination to the one desired. In truth, I see the internet, worldwide web and social media as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good: Information. There is so much material available in an instant: some great wine websites, books, articles, research paper (including those published overseas), YouTube videos, PowerPoints. I still use the British Library, and other collections, but the amount I've saved on train and tube fares far exceeds the cost of my broadband and antivirus subscriptions, and computer upgrades. And, of course, there are the blogs, forums and other vehicles of peer information that can provide a rapid interchange of ideas and knowledge. Which leads me to....

The Bad: Misinformation. Of course, there have always been poor and badly researched books and articles, particularly in the so-called 'popular' press. All writers know that we are not immune to making mistakes, and fortunately most of these are corrected in the sub-editing and editing processes. However, the amount of erroneous and out-of-date information that passes for fact on the web is alarming. Anybody can have a webpage or a blog and instantly be an expert on any subject. We've all seen the erroneous info in some (repeat some) wine blogs. I've been to China several times during the last decade, mostly presenting masterclasses and tutoring tastings. Obviously this has involved researching the cities I go to, how to get there, dealing with authorities etc. Of the information obtained from web sources, I would say that 60% has been accurate and up to date, 30% inaccurate or out of date, and 10% positively dangerous. Which leads me to....

The Ugly: Abuse. Trolls. Keyboard warriors. Damning reviews from people who have clearly never visited the restaurant/hotel in question, or read the book they comment on. Does anybody remember the days of 'I beg to differ'? Now the instant reaction to a stated opinion is more likely to be 'you moron'. If I read an online article which contains inaccuracies or needs a counterview to maintain balance, I occasionally reply. Naturally, I do not expect any comments I make to be accepted as fact, or even considered valuable. However, should I really be told that 'I am a ....' and 'to stay off the internet'? As far as I can tell, nearly all keyboard warriors have achieved little in their lives other than repeating insults.

So, I'll stop writing for 30 minutes or so and return to music and to art in a glass. A duet of Ennio Morricone and Pieropan La Rocca Soave Classico.